This place is a cigar bar. That is the first thing you should know about it because when you step inside (as I did for about 15 seconds) that is what you smell. Now I am sure some of you may be into cigars, but I am not. Not only does the smell give me a near instant headache, but it would certainly ruin the flavors of any food for me after any length of time. So, luckily they have a teeny outside seating area at the Buda Lounge, or this review might never have come to pass. (My brief look inside showed a cute little bar with a warm interior though). And I think they will reserve a table for you outside if you call and ask for one.
So the BFF and I sat out on the sidewalk on what was possibly one of the nicest nights of the summer to date (no humidity). The menu includes lots of appetizer type items as well as sushi rolls. We sort of planned on doing a tapas style meal, ordering several of the appetizers to share for our dinner. The portions here are very generous, so it is very easy to share things.
We ordered everything at the same time, but the staff did a good job of staggering the items at a good pace which was nice, especially since the outdoor tables are small, and the plates are generally on the large side. The service in general, was exceptionally friendly and perfectly attentive—they were there when we needed them, but not annoying us.
The first thing that was delivered was the Buda salad with seared Ahi tuna. The salad was mixed greens with a creamy ginger dressing, with Ahi tuna that was seared with a sesame crust. It was still basically raw in the middle (which is what I was expecting). It was topped with tempura coated strings of what appeared to be carrot and onions. The salad was really tasty and quite a large portion. We were splitting it between the two of us, but it could easily go further. The tuna was good quality and I liked the crunchy flavor of the seared edges which had the flavor of the sesame seeds as well as a salty kick. The leaves were well dressed and I really liked the crunchy strings on top. They made me regret that we hadn’t ordered the shrimp and lobster tempura that is on the menu. The tempura was perfectly light and crunchy and added a nice texture to the salad.
Next we were brought the crab cakes. The crab cakes are certainly very unique. I have never had any like them. They are fried rice cakes, with some crab mixed in, that are then tempura fried and served with some lump crab on top as well as a bit of fish roe. There was a red sauce drizzled across the top which was a little bit spicy, but was overall more on the sweet side. Almost like an Asian inspired barbeque sauce. It was served atop a mango and pepper relish. This dish was almost too sticky and sweet for me, but it was a beautiful presentation. Actually, all of the dishes were visually very attractive.
At the same time, we were also served the lobster and shrimp spring rolls. There were actually four in an order (we each had taken one before I snapped the picture). The rolls were nice and crispy, but the filling was a mince of the seafood, and I guess I was sort of expecting large chunks. They were also served with the typical sweet and sour sauce that is often served with crispy spring rolls, and this may have just been a little too much sweet for me all at once (again, I wished I had gone for the shrimp and lobster tempura).
The final dish was probably our favorite. It was described as Chinese dumplings and they were filled with a pork mixture and served with a soy based dipping sauce. Maybe it was just the fact that I was a little “sweeted” out, but these tasted really good to me and had the savory balance I was craving. When we ordered them, I was expecting steamed dumplings, or sautéed ones anyway, but our very friendly server suggested we get them “extra crispy,” as she thought they were best that way. We went for it and they were very good, and crispy.
All in all, I don’t think Buda Lounge expects people to eat the way we did, ordering apps as tapas. They are quite large to do this, and the middle two had such similar flavors, that I had wished I had gotten something different. But the food is beautiful, and certainly unique in Indy to a certain extent, and hey if you are into cigars, this may be a great spot for you.
429 Massachusetts Ave