Restaurant review: Ember Urban Eatery

Ember is situated in Fletcher Place on the south side, an area quickly growing in terms of culinary offerings. Not far from Fountain Square, it’s situated in the old Donato’s space at the corners of Virginia, Fletcher, and East streets. They opened earlier this year, and we’ve had our eye on trying it since they participated in Devour Downtown. Friday night before the Ray Lamontagne concert proved to be our opportunity! Sorry for the lack or photos; we were with friends and we were digging in before I thought about it.

I have to start with our rather unfortunate encounter with the owner. Not knowing how busy this joint typically is at 6:30 on a Friday night, I thought it was a good idea to make a reservation. So I did, via Open Table, and made the rez for 6 people as we had another couple potentially joining us and thought it better to overestimate than under (right?!). We get to the restaurant and find it’s not super busy. The 4 of us are shown to a table on the patio, we order drinks, all is well. The owner (who seated us) comes marching over and asks if one of us is Erin with the reservation, so naturally I identify myself. She then goes on to scold me like a small child for making a reservation for 6 people and only having 4, stating that she “eats the cost” of less people showing up because Open Table charges the restaurant for “no-shows”, approximately $2.50/person. Oh, and could I go ahead and get back on the site and change my reservation so she wouldn’t get charged? She ended by telling me it would look bad on me, as an Open Table account holder, if I continue to make reservations for more people than I actually expected and my account would be flagged. She then proceeded to sit a few tables away and light up a cigarette… Um, are you kidding me?! I had no idea Open Table charged for guests that don’t arrive, and I’ve used the app in similar situations but have never, EVER, been treated that way by restaurant staff, let alone the owner! To say it put a bad taste in my mouth was putting it lightly.

Thankfully, the food was better than the attitude. Ember offers a rotating tap of mostly local draft beers, which seems to be becoming an expectation in most new restaurants (a trend I’m more than okay with!) as well as a reasonable wine selection. Our group shared an order of chicken wings and spinach artichoke dip, which was plenty for 4 people. The wings were smoky and crispy, easily some of the better wings I’ve tasted. The dressing served with them was a bit peppery, however, so I just ate mine plain. The spin dip was ok, nothing to rave about. The menu consists of a wide variety of sandwiches and burgers with a few pasta options. Our friends chose sandwiches with fries; Mark also ordered an Italian beef sandwich. I opted to try one of the specials for the day: smoked scallops with pancetta and wilted spinach on a bed of risotto. I was not disappointed! The scallops were perfectly cooked with the right amount of smokiness, and the pancetta added a nice bit of saltiness to the dish.

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No one else was overly impressed with their food. I sampled some fries; they were similar to Wendy’s in my opinion. Mark’s Italian beef wasn’t seasoned well, and he said it wouldn’t even make his top 10 in the city… I’m not sure he’s even tried 10 different Italian beefs in Indy, so that’s saying something. For 3 beers, an app, 2 entrees and tip, our bill was about $60- to me, not worth it. We might have gone back to try more of the menu, but after the tongue lashing we received from the owner, I’d rather take my business elsewhere. There are too many new places popping up to waste my time!

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