Well, friends, it’s that time again: Devour Indy. In case you don’t remember from previous years, Devour is the two-week food party when restaurants across the city offer three-course, value-priced menus to encourage everyone to go out and eat! And so, I do. But then I always try something I don’t like and end up disappointed and remember why I like my usual places. But it’s part of my annual Indianapolis experience, so I just keep going.
This year? I went to Txuleta, a new Spanish tapas and cider house restaurant on top of Brugge Brasserie, a popular mussels and frites destination in Broad Ripple. Txuleta is owned and operated by the same purveyors of the ill-fated The Owner’s Wife, which was a 3-month financial disaster on Mass Ave in 2017. I wanted to give Txuleta at least a couple months to stay open before giving it a visit, but then Devour happened and I went to visit during their second month of business.
How was it? Well, let me tell you.
The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but they do take “call aheads,” starting at 5pm. I called right at 5 and put my name down for 7pm and was told “no problem.” Showed up right at 7 and was told it would be a 30 minute wait (not really sure what the point of call ahead is, since people walking in without calling ahead were given the same wait time). But anyway, it was a Friday night and it was Devour, so I expected it to be busy. No problem and that’s not why I had a bad experience.
We were seated after a 40 minute wait and then had to wait another 20+ minutes before anyone came to take our order. Because it was busy, our server didn’t take the time to explain the menu or ciders to us, so we just took our best guess and ordered a selection of random items. I tried all 3 ciders, but was a little surprised there wasn’t a bigger selection since they are labeling the restaurant as a “cider house.”
Anyway, the restaurant was very understaffed with a limited number of servers running around like crazy, disappearing for smoke breaks, and then running around some more. I felt bad for them and didn’t understand why a couple more servers couldn’t be recruited to help with the popularity of the new restaurant. Our dinner took 2 1/2 hours from start to finish, just to eat 5 tapas. That’s a very long dinner, especially since they came out in 2 separate clusters, so we were delivered food 2 times in 2 1/2 hours.
For the Devour menu, we had a choice of 3 pintxos, 2 “for the table” plates, and 1 dessert for $30. $30 for 2 people isn’t bad. Ciders were sold individually ranging from $4-$6. Husband and I shared braised beef, shrimp a la plancha, txistorra chorizo, patatas bravas, fritters, and “burnt” cheesecake. All sounds good, right?
And here’s where it gets bad. While biting into my first piece of potato, I pulled out a VERY long hair. Like all wrapped in the cheese and around my potatoes. Very, very gross. It took me a little while to find our server to report this, but he eventually came over, apologized, and quickly brought me out a replacement dish, but I was a little nervous about eating more after that. All other dishes were not hot by the time they arrived at the table. I wasn’t sure the goal was to serve them at room temperature or if there was such a back-up in the kitchen that they cooled off before making it to our table. When we finally got all our food, there was a mix-up with our bill, so we were charged twice for everything. Again, our server apologized and fixed it promptly, but I was getting tired of errors by that time.
So, overall verdict? Fun concept, but Txuleta, please, please hire more staff for Friday nights, clarify the purpose of calling ahead, and inform guests if the food is supposed to be served lukewarm. And watch out for hair in the food. Thank you!
Txuleta Basque Cider House
1011 E Westfield Blvd
Indianapolis IN 46220
Tuesday – Thursday: 4-9:30pm