When the sun re-emerges after the long dark days of winter and the temperatures start to soar, there’s one place on Indy’s west side that begs for a visit. Rick’s Cafe Boatyard features perhaps the best deck scene in the city with gorgeous views of Eagle Creek Reservoir. However, since Rick’s is on the polar opposite end of town from where I live, I don’t get there very often. Maybe a couple of times a season, usually alongside hubby as he wines and dines with fellow racing cohorts. Last night, I grabbed my girlfriend Laura and we descended for drinks and some dinner.
The weather in central Indiana has been unseasonably beautiful this month, so Rick’s has busted opened the deck for action earlier than usual this year. And the deck is where you want to be here. The old thermometer was hovering right around 80 degrees yesterday, and the place was jammed when we arrived around 6:45 p.m. The crowd here can best be described as Ike and Jonesy’s West. Everywhere I looked, there were cougars on the prowl, and lots of men hoping to become their prey.
We worried about a wait and contemplated indoor seating, but luck was on our side and Laura was able to quickly snag us an outdoor perch next to the railing. We settled into our spot and waited. And waited. And waited… As I mentioned, the place was slammed, and so was our server. She finally arrived to clear the beer bottles left by the former occupants, and seemed to take her time bringing us our drinks and food, although some kind gentlemen a few tables over seemed to think we were getting much speedier service than they were. This was ok; we weren’t in a hurry and were plenty content to just enjoy a leisurely hang in the warm evening air. Just be forewarned, if you’re really hungry or thirsty and don’t like to wait, an indoor table might be a better idea.
Rick’s claim to fame is its seafood. I recall eating some kind of insanely good dish there a few years ago that included deep-fried lobster, but didn’t see whatever it was on the menu this time around. Dang. We ordered an appetizer of crab-stuffed mushrooms and turned out attention to the mains. The mushrooms took awhile to make their appearance (shocker), and the waitress told us that their preparation takes longer than some of the other starters. Not sure why, but ok. Whatever. They finally showed up — a half dozen or so mushroom caps brimming with crab filling with mornay sauce and melted cheese on top. Didn’t blow me away with flavor, but they were fine.
Laura was in the mood for shrimp, and the server told her she could add on “huge” jumbo shrimp to any salad for $4. Per shrimp. Um, hello!? For $4 a pop, those shrimp had better be the size of my foot!
In the end, Laura changed gears and ordered the Islamorada Mahi-Mahi sandwich. I went with a blackened catfish sandwich, and wasn’t overly impressed with either choice. For supposedly having been coated with spices, my fish was really bland and nearly got lost amid two vast slabs of bread. This sandwich needed a more substantial piece of fish or a much smaller bun, and the whole thing could have used a hearty dose of Tabasco or sriracha (Laura’s Bloody Mary also needed a wake-up call, come to think of it).
The fries I seem to remember ordering were conspicuously absent from the plate; instead, I got a little ramekin of cole slaw and another of tartar sauce. Laura fared somewhat better. Her Mahi-Mahi was much meatier with more flavor thanks to the addition of some crunchy chili fried onions.
All in all, it was great hanging out on the deck and watching the lovely sunset while sipping a few beers, but I won’t be rushing back to Rick’s anytime soon for the food.
For more information, visit www.rickscafeboatyard.