There are few rules for this monthly space, and even then, they’re mostly self-imposed. But there’s one simple one: no major chains/franchised activities. That’s less an effort to disparage the big guys than it is to distribute space to the local folks.
On its face, Pure Eatery might seem in violation — although I contend three locations in three Indiana cities (all within an hour’s drive of each other) is more like a long link than a chain.
After success at spots in Fishers and Indy’s Fountain Square neighborhood, Pure Eatery headed up I-65 and opened its doors in downtown Lafayette earlier this year. Their focus on natural, healthy, fresh-casual cuisine is legit —there’s nary a fryer to be found on the menu — and their style is to make soups and dressings from scratch every morning.
Although the days of dining outside are waning for 2017, Pure provides unparalleled outdoor dining space downtown — with copious space on either a patio or a second-floor deck. (On this overcast September evening, we stuck to the cozy interior with a view of the L-shaped bar.)
We started with a pair of appetizers — the spinach and asparagus dip and a quartet of gouda-stuffed jalapeño peppers. Hardly a complaint to say the former could almost be a queso, given its cheese-blend base — served piping hot with plenty of pita bread and both the texture of spinach and the taste of asparagus coming through just enough. The homemade herbed ranch dressing offered a fine complement to the liberally stuffed jalapeños as well.
I then tried the Fideo, a tomato-based Mexican noodle soup with vermicelli, beans, some chiles and tortilla garnish. Noodle soups can be a splattery gamble, but the vermicelli was perfectly sized for the cup. Overall, this was a lightly spiced Southwest delight I would definitely enjoy again.
Relative to the appetizers, the entrées and sides were less flavorful than anticipated. My marinated beef tips were cooked to tender perfection, but I missed the sharp taste expected from a combination of pickled banana peppers and garlic, and the mashed cauliflower also lacked zing.
Abby went with the ham and white cheddar panini — always a fine choice for the applewood-smoked sweetness of Indy’s stellar Smoking Goose Ham. But the side of dill potato salad seemed to have had its tang taken away.
Dessert rebounded, though — a just-right portion of raspberry-swirl cheesecake with chocolate crust. Skip the topping and just let the strawberry-and-blueberry garnish do its natural thing.
So, while this initial visit may not have dazzled from start to finish, Pure Eatery still offers plenty of other exciting options — like the black bean burger with egg and avocado, balsamic sockeye salmon or bourbon peanut shrimp wrap — that caught my eye to consider for a return trip.
Rob Ford is Tipmont and Wintek's communication director, a role he's held since 2015.
Rob has a bachelor's and a master's in Communication from Purdue University. He lives in West Lafayette with his wife and three children and has a life-sized Yoda statue in his office. Away from the office, you’ll find Rob working on his golf swing, jump shot, or hope for a Purdue basketball national title – all futile endeavors.