Monday, May 20, 2024
BurgerbanismTransit infrastructure

Burgerbanism No. 3: Take Indy’s BRT to Delectable Southern Cuisine at Root & Bone

In town for a long weekend that involved a multi-part wedding extravaganza, I headed down south, as it were, to Indianapolis. I haven’t spent much time in the Circle City, and I always enjoy touring The Great Forgotten MIdwestern cities™. Indianapolis, in my head, at least, has a reputation as being extremely middle-of-the-road. It’s unexciting. Inoffensive. It’s… southern? Well, increasingly spending my time in the great north, it’s easy to get confused, I suppose. Indy’s food scene demonstrates a strong southern proclivity, both in terms of New Southern and soul food. In between wedding events, we hit up Root & Bone, an American-Australian joint venture of a dynamic husband-wife duo, on the city’s north side.

Traffic passes the intersection of College and 46th in Indianapolis, where several of us dined at Root & Bone, a stone’s throw from IndyGo’s Red Line BRT (B-kind-of-R-T).

Located at the corner of 46th and College, the restaurant is located in a charmingly renovated interior of a Gothic Revival, circa 1920’s, single-story corner storefront. The single-story corner storefront is a hallmark motif of a large number of great Midwestern cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Madison, Des Moines, etc.)– and even some southern ones (Memphis comes to mind). It’s a sort of model for a type of proto-sprawl that preceded the era of the strip mall, but, in the modern era, it provides some welcome commercial spaces to otherwise residential neighborhoods. There is an expansive patio on the western side of the space, which we enjoyed– with the welcome support of some gigantic, tiltable umbrellas. This is welcome to my vulnerable complexion under the formidable summer sun.

Root & Bone’s menu is expansive for those seeking either savory or sweet– or, in the case of the classic chicken and waffles, perhaps both. My partner and I are often able to divide and conquer in this regard, since she prefers savory breakfast and brunch items and I am more of a sweet breakfast kind of gal. (Doesn’t hurt to add several people to the party, since we’re then able to share). We covered quite a bit of ground, between avocado toast (good setup and well-paired with the side salad, included), chicken and waffles (an obscene amount of food and delicious– though the “sweet tea brine” seems a dubious measure, to be sure).

Chicken and biscuits (as an appetizer) paired nicely with the fried green tomato “BLT”, both a nice balance of crispy fried (chicken), smoky (bacon), and mildly inventive in the case of the “tomato jam,” which honestly felt a little bit more like ajvar than like ketchup (fine, but the appetizer slash “shareable” overall was quite tasty). In general, the storefront’s interior space is bathed in warm light and they did a stellar job with the design, if you’re doing that whole indoor dining thing, and the menu will not disappoint. 

The Red Line

Okay, so, transit snobs might say, “well, it’s not true BRT because it shares the right-of-way with cars, in the same way that a painted bike lane isn’t a protected bike lane. This is maybe a valid complaint. But the BRT does more or less have its own space, and it seems to have signal priority in most places. And they have a neat little feature where the buses actually run in the center of the road along a curb thingamajig– singletracking, in bus form, if you will. I think this is what’s known as a guideway. Given the center-running feature of this, this means that the buses have to be timed to not, you know, crash into each other, but it also means that the bus can move at full speed without disrupting the flow of automotive traffic.

I missed the shrimp and grits. Perhaps next time. Ride the Red Line BRT next time you’re in Indianapolis. And check out Root & Bone! (★★★★★)

Nat M. Zorach

Nat M. Zorach, AICP, MBA, is a city planner and energy professional based in Detroit, where he writes about infrastructure, sustainability, tech, and more. A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he attended Grinnell College in Iowa, the Kogod School of Business at American University, the POCACITO transatlantic program, the SISE program at the University of Illinois Chicago, and he is also a StartingBloc Social Innovation Fellow. He enjoys long walks through historic, disinvested Rust Belt neighborhoods at sunset. (Nat's views and opinions are his own and do not represent those of his employer).

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