Brogan's Bites: Rook, Fletcher Place
Where to eat in Fletcher Place: Rook
501 Virginia Ave. Suite 101 | 317.737.2293 | Price: $$
It’s no secret that there isn’t a great selection of Filipino restaurants in Indy. So when I heard of an Asian fusion restaurant in Fletcher Place serving a Filipino-influenced menu, I jumped on it.
Rook serves Asian street food-inspired eats in a casual yet modern space. 90s hip-hop typically plays, and a picture of Tupac hangs in the women’s restroom. The kitchen is open and if you sit at the bar, you can watch your food being prepared.
The menu’s Filipino influence comes from Chef Carlos Salazar. He and his family moved to the US from the Philippines when he was 10 years old. While the menu draws inspiration from Japanese, Chinese and Korean street food, each dish has at least a little bit of Pinoy flair.
Go to Rook when you’re feeling adventurous and open-minded. Rook is the perfect spot to grab cocktails and share a few small plates with friends. If you’re a gin fan, you’re in luck. They make their own tonic, and their gin and tonics are the best in Indy. If you prefer not to share food, it’s a great place to go if you like to try multiple dishes on the menu. Many of the dishes they feature are smaller plates, so you won’t have too much if you order a couple.
While you may be hesitant to order some of the dishes, you won’t be disappointed. My server recommended the jalapeno Spam steamed buns to start with. Pimento kimcheese is spread over a Spam patty and topped with pickled cucumbers. I swore I’d never eat Spam again by choice after eating it as a child, but I decided to go with her recommendation. I’m so glad I did! The Spam and kimcheese had a slight kick to it, and the tanginess of the pickled cucumbers balanced it all out.
Another dish I was skeptical to try was the kinilaw. It’s like a Filipino ceviche — it has whitefish, coconut aquachile, green strawberry salsa and tarragon. It’s topped with puffed wheat. It’s a little creamy, but the green strawberry salsa adds a little zing to it.
The only dish I wasn’t skeptical of initially was inihaw na manok — Filipino chicken barbecue. Rook’s version pairs chicken wings with a banana ketchup and shoyu sauce topped with scallions and crispy shallots. Just like everything else, it was delicious.
One piece of advice: save room for dessert. The halo halo is messy, but a fantastic finish to your meal. Halo halo is Tagalog for “mix mix” — and that’s exactly what you do with this dessert. It’s served in a glass with a long spoon. In the glass is ube ice cream, Cap’n Crunch, flan, sweet beans, bananas, lemongrass milk and coconut. It’s a combination of sweet, creamy and crunchy, and it’s not too rich or filling. There’s no excuse to not order this!
If you’re in the mood for something a little different, head on over to Rook. It’s a unique eating experience that stands out in the crowd that is Indy’s growing food scene.
Brogan is a dog-loving foodie at heart. She works in customer service for a clothing subscription service startup and can typically be found devouring everything in sight. Follow her food adventures on Instagram at @brogandearinger.