Tuesday, August 9

Restaurant Review: Gas Light Inn

The review for Gas Light Inn, 2280 S. Meridian St., isn't going to be my normal review because, well, this isn't a normal restaurant and bar. In fact, it's paranormal.

The south side pub hasn't always served up cold drinks and hot food. In the past 125 years it has also been a brothel, grocery market, confectionery and a morgue. Customers included outlaws such as John Dillinger who used it as a hideout. Some former owners, employees and guests have stayed on. While getting liquor from the basement storeroom it isn't out of the norm to be touched by an unseen entity. The paranormal activity is verified by more than the staff, owners and clientele. The Biography Channel's, "My Ghost Story" aired Gas Light Inn's tale this past April.

If you don't mind spirits while drinking your...spirits, then Gas Light Inn may be your ticket to the other side. Tours are available for the daring, but not guaranteed. Ghosts apparently don't appear on command. However, I will state that I believe.

When not contending with the ghosts of the lady on the stairs, or the man in the basement, owner Joe De More can be found serving specialty drinks to ghost followers and locals alike. The Frozen Ghost, a concoction including Frozen Ghost vodka, pineapple and cranberry juices is served best as a frozen blended drink, although it is tasty on the rocks. The Crystal Skull, containing Dan Akroyd's Crystal Head vodka, grape pucker and pineapple juice, tastes somewhat like kiwis.

Taking the in-house spirits in stride, and with a great deal of respect, De More recognizes the difficulty in succeeding in this economy. Solution? Bring in Steve Miller as the chef to make the neighborhood bar's menu above the rest.

Miller's pub fare is traditional but at a higher level than the normal tavern. From the exterior, this establishment looks like a hole-in-the-wall; which is probably what appealed to Dillinger...and me. The rough exterior and nearby cemeteries add to the atmosphere, especially late at night.

My recommendations from the menu include the Reuben sandwich. Layered with 8 oz. of meat, sauerkraut and in-house dressing, it is served on marbled rye bread and simply one of the best I have ever eaten. The pizza. Although the crust is not made onsite, it’s outstanding in flavor, quantity of toppings and price. The steaks are hand cut, the hot sauce--a must try--is also Miller's in-house creation. His Philly Steak is piled high with tender meat, and served on a hoagy roll.

Breaded Tenderloin
The Tenderloin sandwich.

We Hoosiers demand quality and will drive hours to get a great one. It is here. This hand-pounded, hand-breaded and juicy version is officially No. 1 in my book (and I have eaten too many to admit). Perhaps someday I will come across one I like more, but at this point, Gas Light's ranks the highest.

Chips are included with sandwiches but I suggest you opt for the beer-battered onion rings. If you prefer fries; they have more than one type so be certain you request the "real potato" fries.

Apple Pie a la Mode
There isn't a dessert menu because it changes daily based on the whim of baker Melinda Grinder. These baked goods are the kind made from secret family recipes and worth a trip by themselves. And, no, I am not giving out the secret Grinder whispered to me about the over-the-top, made-from-scratch apple pie I was served...drizzled with caramel and served a la mode. Sorry, you will have to check out the oven creations personally.

The common thread throughout the numerous items I have tasted at the pub, during several visits, is that the menu contains great restaurant food that just happens to be...in a bar...a haunted bar.

Bottom Line: Gas Light Inn offers everything you could want in a neighborhood pub: great food, great prices and ghosts…
Website: www.thegaslightinnindy.com; telephone: 317-782-1250

Photos: Bob Burchfield, EJMusgrave

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC, and follow her on Twitter @GottaGo and Facebook. Gotta Go is published in M, a fine-living magazine, and the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

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