By Jennifer Uhl
»The colors are changing, but greens aren’t just for spring and summer. Here, four southside salads omit the iceberg and put fall on a plate in the form of tangy cranberries, smoky bacon, sweet maple and more cool-weather flavors.
Taxman Brewing Co., 13 S. Baldwin St., Bargersville, taxmanbrewing.com, $8 lunch, $10 dinner
If it seems that downtown Bargersville resembles a parking lot most nights, it’s because half the population of Center Grove (and many a northsider) is lined up to get a pint or two at Taxman Brewing Co. The wildly popular brewery-meets-gastropub is almost always at capacity come evening, and as the locally focused menu has expanded, it’s clear that patrons are coming back for more than their favorite farmhouse ale.
Though Taxman’s menu changes with the seasons, co-owner Leah Huelsebusch says one salad that won’t be going anywhere is the Artisan Greens, a blend of peppery arugula, bok choy, spinach and leafy greens (courtesy of Greenwood’s own Indy Family Farms) topped with sun-dried cranberries, housemade spiced pecans and balsamic vinaigrette, and goat cheese from Capriole Farm, located in southern Indiana’s small-town Greenville. The dinner salad, a bit larger than the lunch version, is a substantial starter, but for an additional $8, you can make it a meal with steak or wild-caught salmon.
Revery, 299 W. Main St., Greenwood, reverygreenwood.com, $6
Every dish at this darling of the southside dining scene is done with panache and a bit of the unexpected — mussels in a PBR beer broth, pina colada cotton candy — and the roughage portion of Revery’s menu is no exception. While it’s hard to pass up the memorable grilled Caesar (that crispy egg!), the Apple Salad is the obvious fall go-to. Chef-owner Mark Henrichs and executive chef Danny Salgado regularly turn to Anna Belle’s Garden, a favorite vendor at Broad Ripple Farmers Market, for the salad’s spinach and arugula. “We try to use (Anna Belle’s) as much as possible,” says Henrichs, who also orders goat cheese from Capriole Farm. Cherrywood bacon, which Henrichs describes as sweeter and smokier than applewood bacon, almonds and Revery’s housemade raisin vinaigrette top it all off, but what really kicks the salad into swoon-worthy territory is the addition of cinnamon-sugar croutons. Salad and dessert in one? Yes, please.
Pear and Walnut Spinach Salad
Sassafras Tea Room, 229 N. Madison Ave., Greenwood, sassafrastearoom.com, $9.95
Even the Dowager Countess of Grantham (for you Downton Abbey fans) would approve of the tea service at this family-owned establishment, where the best of British traditions and Southern charm meet. The relaxing, thoughtfully decorated dining room is popular with ladies who lunch on chicken salad sandwiches and quiche, and additional rooms in the house-turned restaurant are filled with bridal and baby shower guests on weekends. A year-round favorite with all the flavors of fall, the pear and walnut spinach salad features a fan of red or Bartlett pear slices over fresh spinach, topped with cranberries, parmesan cheese, Sassafras owner Cheryl Domi’s housemade candied walnuts and the raspberry vinaigrette house dressing. The added touch of a mini scone served alongside is seasonal in flavor — yours might be pumpkin, blueberry, cinnamon, even citrus — but always sweet.
Nourish, 931 S. East St., Indianapolis, thenourishindy.com, $7
Seasonally driven menus are popping up at restaurants all over the southside, but few take seasonal fare as much to heart as newcomer Nourish. The Fletcher Place hotspot is just a stone’s throw behind Eli Lilly, and Lilly employees pack the tables at lunchtime to order dishes elevated by surprising twists and additions, like bahn mi lettuce wraps with coconut quinoa and a burger with a stout caramelized onion aioli. Executive chef Eli Laidlaw’s farm-to-table contemporary fare changes every other month or so; for fall, he’s concocted a bulgur wheat salad paired with kale, spinach and radicchio from local farm operation Growing Places Indy. The nutty bulgur is topped with purple cauliflower, roasted beets and a yuzu-maple vinaigrette. Like every other dish Laidlaw serves, it’s artfully plated and almost too pretty to eat, but that’s not stopping us.