Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Historical Hollyhock Hill Restaurant

I spent a fine Tuesday evening with my work buddies at one of Indianapolis’s oldest restaurants, Hollyhock Hill, located on N. College. This establishment began in 1928 as a small country cottage feeding 30 diners at a time! As I pulled up to the restaurant I was surprised by the full parking lot on a weekday. I walked into the small white building decorated inside like it was still 1950 and the waitresses were dressed in outfits from a similar time. The restaurant, which now seats 150, has several rooms with tables adorned with crisp white tablecloths and large fresh flower arrangements. Colorful hollyhocks are painted on every wall.  Large family groups were seated celebrating birthdays or anniversaries. My friends and I quickly decided on the pan-fried chicken served family-style with small bowls of mashed potatoes, white gravy, buttered corn, and seasoned green beans. We had a bevy of lovely plates and silverware stacked before us promising quantities of food. Before the meal arrived, various bowls of relish, pickled beets, cottage cheese, iceberg lettuce with its famous sweet vinaigrette dressing, and apple butter were placed before us.  Our appetizer was a tomato rice and chicken soup.  Dessert was a make-your-own sundae with average quality ice cream and various toppings including an unnaturally green mint sauce.

I know people love to hate this restaurant because it is old-fashioned and not hip at all, but I have to say the fried chicken was very moist with a nice crunchy coating, the vegetables real and tasting like they came out of your own Hoosier kitchen, and there was a wonderfully savory gravy that I could eat by itself. The soup was also nice, smooth, and complemented the meal. It is hard to make a good tomato soup, one that is not too harsh. There was also a basket of homemade biscuits.  I especially enjoy family-style meals where it makes the eating much more communal. My husband would find it all too bland, the menu limited, and not worth the price of  $20 a meal, but for me it is good comfort food that my mother would feed me if she were still here.  It definitely fills a place in the sometimes pretentious Indianapolis restaurant scene. It does not pretend to cater to special dietary needs. This restaurant is true to the simple food traditions, including the strong influence of the Amish food traditions, in our state. “Keep it real- keep it simple!” you can hear past Hollyhock Hill owners saying across the years.

Atmopshere – 8 (or 0 depending on your age J)
Service – 9
Price – 6
Presentation – 7
Food quality – 7
Overall – 8
Listen Up: Don’t change too much! One slight improvement, however, would be the ice cream. Suggest upgrading to a better quality or providing home-made.

Hollyhock Hill on Urbanspoon

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