Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Off The Beaten Path

One of the pieces of advice about cons that I see a lot of is "find a restaurant that's a little farther from the convention, or not as popular." It's true that the restaurants nearest the convention center get crowded pretty fast during Gen Con, even though there are a whole lot of them. The good bars get that way at night too. With that in mind, I took a little hike and visited a place I don't get to go that often: Mass Avenue.

Massachusetts Avenue (locals just call it Mass Ave) is one of the four diagonal streets heading out of downtown. It's a 15 to 20 minute walk northeast of the convention center, but very easy to find. It's an arts and eclectic shopping area, and from what I've seen of it lately the economy has taken it's toll. There are a few places of note though, including Bazbeaux's Pizza, The Rathskellar (just off Mass Ave), and MacNiven's.

I'll mention the Rathskellar in passing, since I haven't been there in a few years.  It boasts an extensive German/Austrian themed menu and a biergarten out back. There will be live music every night of Gen Con. The beer menu was really broad last time I was there, but this is at least a 20 minute walk from the convention center.

MacNiven's Scottish American Restaurant & Bar    |    339 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46204
MacNiven's is a fantastic little Scottish pub serving a variety of menu items including some serious Scottish fare. Yes...they have haggis. I repeat this for all you kilt wearers out there...MacNiven's has haggis. They also have scotch eggs. Heck, they even have a vegetarian haggis, though I'm sure that would make true Scots cringe.

I stopped by recently, and had the most Scottish of the combinations, "Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties." While I can't vouch that the haggis was cooked correctly in a sheep stomach, it certainly was organ meat, and very tasty at that. Neeps, for those unfamiliar with them, are a seasoned, mashed yellow turnip and tatties...well, you know what tatties are. These were mashed as well. The whole meal was very good, and the service was excellent. The staff is very friendly and really made my lunch a very pleasant experience. Since there was an empty seat there, they put me by one of the windows. You can see in the picture that these are open in the summer, and very comfortable with a slight breeze on a warm summer's day.

If you're looking for a liquid libations, they have a fantastic beer menu and a fairly extensive single malt scotch menu. You could absolutely spend several nights drinking here without having the same beverage twice.

Let's face it folks, for a short walk and a few extra dollars MacNiven's is the kind of establishment that screams "Gen Con crowd". Authentic food and drink from the British Isles and a variety of other items for those with no interested in escaping to the moors. For that extra labor, you also get a place the probably will not be overcrowded. If you have the time and inclination, I highly recommend the journey.

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