Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Beer: Shallos Antique Restaurant

My wife and I attended a birthday dinner at Cheeseburger in Suburban Hell Paradise in Southport on Friday, so afterwards I decided to drive a little further south for our first experience at Shallos Antique Restaurant. Amazingly, I'd never even heard of this restaurant (or nearby beer mecca, Parti Pak) before the Hoosier Beer Geeks posted about Indianapolis being added to the Beer Mapping Project. Shame on me, and shame on you if you've never been to them either!

Shallos indeed has an antique feel to it -- dark woods decorate every surface, dominating the decor from the moment you walk in the door. Those surfaces are in turn decorated by a plethora of beer-related trinkets, tap handles, bottles and what-not. We sat down at the bar in front of one of their five eight-tap stands (that's 40 taps for the math-phobic). Behind the bar is a large cooler that houses dozens of beers also available in bottles. A seasonally-appropriate line-up of Oktoberfest bottles were set on the bar in front of the tap stand.

The beer list is a bit overwhelming at first. The first thing I noticed was a large number of Bell's beers available, both on tap and in bottle. I've already documented my high opinion of Batch 8000, so when I noticed it on the menu, I had to order it. Unfortunately, the bartender informed me that their supply of Batch 8000 went quickly and they no longer have it. No worry (especially since I still have a 6-er in the closet!), I also noticed that they have Bell's Double Cream Stout on tap, which I've never had. More bad news: Bell's has been a little flaky with their delivery of kegs to Shallos recently and they no longer have that either. The good news? They have Java Stout instead! I've had it in bottle before (and LOVED it) but never on tap, so I quickly ordered that. It's quite possibly better on tap, or maybe this season's batch is just better than last year's. My wife decided to go with a pint of creamy Young's Double Chocolate Stout.

Next up, we decided to split a bomber. Two beers popped out at me: "Three Floyds Anniversary Ale" (I assume Fantabulous Resplendence) and Stone Imperial Stout. I asked for the first and they warned me that it was $25. Wow, a little rich for my blood. The Stone? $23. WOW, these guys drive a hard bargain on the bombers! We decided to settle down to something we'd had before and figured wasn't too expensive: Two Brothers Hop Juice. No price warning on that one, so I felt that we were safe. Man, I love Hop Juice: pure hop-gasm! You certainly wouldn't call it a well-balanced double IPA, such as Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA, but I still love it.

Of course, all was not well when the bill arrived. Wow, they're expensive! I can take $4, $5, or even $6 for a pint of beer, especially if it's something really special. But the high price of the bombers I was warned about apparently extends to all bombers, where we were charged $15 for Hop Juice. That only costs $5.99 at Parti Pak! Compare this to the price of Dreadnaught at a place like MacNiven's, where they charge around $13, only a dollar or two above the store price.

Shallos seems to think of bomber pricing more in the way restaurants think about wine pricing (i.e. 100-200% above in-store prices). This is especially a turn-off since most of these bottles are available around town for far cheaper and will taste exactly the same at home. That's in contrast to the taps, where you really are getting something special that you can't get elsewhere.

So, what's my final call on Shallos? Their selection is amazing and I'll definitely be back, but next time I'm sticking strictly to the taps.


Matt said...

I think you hit the nail right on the head. I like Shallow's for the great selection, but the staff almost always doesn't know a damn thing about beer and they hide the prices from you. If you are going to charge that kind of money for a drink you need to be upfront about it.

I also felt the sting here on a bottle of Stone Imperial Russian Stout once. 7 bucks at Party Park and 21 on their menu. A small bottle of Piraat will also set you a back 12 bucks. That is also crazy.

thefens said...

So far today, I've learned at least 6 new things from your blog. The two most recent are that there's a place called Shallos with a great beer selection, and that they charge a arm and damn leg. I'm intigued by those stout selections, though.

CorrND said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. And glad my blog is actually useful, thefens! It would be sad if my blog existed in a vacuum, so I'm glad people are reading and getting something out of it.

matt -- We ate dinner at Cheeseburger in Parking Lot Hell -- seriously, people in the suburbs complain about parking downtown?! -- so we didn't actually try any of the food at Shallos. I'll definitely be back for the beer but I'm curious if the food is also a draw.

Unknown said...

That name... Shallos "Antique" Restaurant... Makes me think of some sort of country restaurant attached to an Antique mall. I would never have considered such a restaurant if you hadn't explained what type it really was. Still, at those prices I'll pass. Plus I am a stuck-up northsider who doesn't believe there is anything at all south of downtown.

So what's the best place in town for bombers, both for price and selection? I usually just go to Kahn's and Trader Joe's for my alcohol, so I haven't shopped around.

CorrND said...

Actually, Shallos IS attached to some old-timey, now-mostly-empty mall. County Line Mall? Something like that. I read it somewhere last week and can't find it now.

For bombers, I couldn't really tell you about price comparison. I mostly buy 6-packs.

For northside selection, Kahn's is probably best. The Hop Shop is a close second.


I've heard Crown Liquor all around the city is decent, though I've never been to one. The Payless Liquors on 96th has a respectable selection if you happen to be in the area (I go Fry's regularly and stop into this Payless location).

Anonymous said...

Let me set the record straight regarding Shallos...considering I have a great deal of experience eating and drinking at this establishment. First, take this for what it's worth, but I am a lawyer used to go to Shallos quite often from my early 20's to early 30's. Believe it or not, there are educated people on the southside of Indy and they do regularly frequent Shallos. Let me explain a couple of interesting facts about Shallos.

First, at any given time, Shallos stocks anywhere from 300 to 500 beers, ranging from domestics to imports, macrobrews to microbrews. You will be hard-pressed to find such a beer selection such as this within the Midwest.

Second, Mike and Paul (the guys that run Shallos) could do a better job of informing the staff about beer categories; however, just speak with Doug or Shelly (who have regularly worked behind the bar for years) and they will set you straight concerning any question whatsoever about the beers and price. Also, management could do a little better job of informing servers about the prices of beers, but the selection changes so often and price often depend on supply and demand of what's in stock. Do yourself a favor, realize that if you are going to drink imports and microbrews then you're going to pay for it. Also, don't be shy...if you have any question concerning costs, just ask your server.

Speaking of prices, considering Shallos' selection, this restaurant is MUCH less expensive than any watering hole located on the smug Northside of Indy. Seriously, compare a pint on one of Shallos' exotic beers with any other local brewhaus selection and you will see what I am talking about.

Next, the food is VERY good. Shallos' fair ranges from NY Strip and Porterhouse to outrageously huge tenderloins, burgers, nachos, grilled chicken and a wide variety of restaurant-made soups. Honestly, if you're looking to watch calories and fat intake, Shallos is not your place. But, if you're looking for a hearty, rich-tasting meal with a brew from anywhere around the world, then visit Shallos.

The interior of Shallos is decorated with various historical pictures and artifacts, especially of local Indy significance. Paul has decorated Shallos with various Indianapolis artifacts and pictures that his late father collected throughout his lifetime. Specifically, you will find pictures of Indianapolis from the early part of 20th century. In addition, the menu is loaded with interesting pictures and lesser known facts of Indianapolis. A challenge...see if you can find the military helmet from the German Wermacht.

In so far as the atmosphere is concerned, outside of the immediate bar area, it is very family friendly. Various TV's adorn the facility, which makes it a good place to watch the Colts, Pacers, etc. Shallos does attract an immensely diverse crowd within the bar. In addition, the bartenders are the friendliest you will find within the metro Indy area. They will engage conversation with you on any topic and actually take the conversation serious. In addition, the regulars are extremely friendly are ALWAYS welcome newcomers to experience what they have known for years...that Shallos is one of the best bar/grill establishments in Indy.