Tag Archives: Taste of SoIN


A Taste of SoIN – July 2017

Heat It Up

New Albany’s The Exchange opens patio, creates popular summer menu.



It’s summer in the city, and that means seasonal offerings from many of the area’s top restaurants. At The Exchange Pub + Kitchen in downtown New Albany, menu items reflect the changing seasons and customers flock to the outdoor patio, which has become a destination for al fresco diners of all ages.

The restaurant originally opened in January 2010 in a location off Grantline Road before moving two years later to the newly-revitalized downtown New Albany district. With 125 seats in its main dining room and an additional private dining space for 40, the upscale casual eatery is already larger than many of its contemporary counterparts. Still, owner Ian Hall found the opportunity for more seating in 2015 when he purchased a lot next door and added on an indoor/outdoor garage-style bar and an outdoor patio.

“Outdoor dining is a big part of our business,” Hall says. “We typically average about 20 percent in increased revenues during the months of May to October. When we first opened, we only had three tables and 12 seats out front on the front sidewalk. Now, I would say we have one of the premier patios in all the metro area. We have live music on the patio on Friday and Saturday nights, and our crowds typically hang out later in the evening when the weather is great.

Patio dining offers challenges when it comes to battling the elements, but the rewards can be worth it when done right. “

The outdoor tables are covered with umbrellas,” Hall says. “This year we added an electronic umbrella/awning system that is 20 feet by 20 feet. It’s huge! It gives us complete coverage over the middle of our patio, (and we have) an outdoor ceiling fan. In the late evening, especially in the cooler months, we are able to fire up our two fire pit tables around our soft seating areas.”

What also makes The Exchange’s patio a popular destination is the fact that it is dog friendly, and several local pet-centered events have held fundraisers there. “My family and I are big time animal lovers,” Hall says. “We have two dogs –– Teddy and Brody –– and a cat named Cash. We thought it would be really great if our guests could bring their four-legged friends and enjoy dinner with their owners.

“We offer dog bowls for all our guest pets, and we have found our guests really appreciate us being dog friendly. We had a huge patio kick off party for the second year in a row, and it was a huge hit. We had close to 70 dogs visit over the course of the day (and) we had some local pet vendors join us and sell their products and services. Our chefs at The Exchange did a great taco and bratwurst bar, as well some special treats for the animals. We had a fenced-in play area equipped with a kissing booth, a potty area and Astroturf. My wife, Nikki, handled all the decor and did an awesome job. We have found that our guest counts on the patio have increased and more people are finding out our patio is dog friendly. All we ask is they stay on a leash and off the furniture!”

Outdoor dining does create staffing challenges, and Hall says it “definitely changes the footprint of our restaurant. If you think about it, exchange2we are essentially opening another restaurant every year in May. Our staffing has to increase, both in the back of the house and the front of the house. We are basically adding about 20 tables to our space, with the same size kitchen and bars that we have in the winter months.

“Since we do seasonal menus throughout the year, it’s important that we plan on that when doing development. We have to have dishes that are more prep heavy but quicker to execute when we add that many seats. It’s a monster no doubt, and our kitchen doesn’t always get the credit they deserve for putting out the amount of food they do. We are working on a kitchen expansion plan to give us more prep space, as well as a rooftop option above the garage bar. You have to keep moving if you want to stay competitive in this industry.”

The Exchange utilizes seasonal ingredients on both its dining and bar menus. Daily specials are created for both lunch and dinner, and Hall’s staff often comes up with new menu items. “We spend a lot of time talking food and tasting with our management team,” he says. “I don’t handcuff the team. I let them have creative freedom to create and develop, and I know that’s a big part of why our culinary and bar teams work so hard, because they are the ones putting their names behind the dishes and cocktails.”

“We also will go to the local farmers market to source some things for specials on the weekends, and sometimes we will have some local farmers just show up at the kitchen door with some of their products to see if we  can use them.”  –Ian Hall, founder of The Exchange

Plenty of thought goes behind The Exchange’s seasonal offerings. “We do a managers’ tasting with the team about a month before our roll out date to taste, tweak, criticize and finalize dishes,” Hall says. “Then we work for two weeks on those changes, and exchange3then bring in the whole kitchen team to prep and produce the dishes, while the front-of-the-house staff goes thru each dish one by one with our chefs to (learn) flavor profiles, pairing options and descriptions of cooking techniques. It’s a long process, and we do this four seasons each year, both for food and cocktails.”

Creating a seasonal menu affords restaurants to utilize local farms and purveyors, from the local beef used in their burgers to the blueberry jam sourced for a grilled cheese sandwich.

“We use farms like Lost Creek Acres, Grateful Greens, PDS Produce and Russell’s Veggies,” Hall says. “We are also growing some fresh herbs and tomatoes on our patio in some gardens one of our staff members did for us this year. We use The Pretzel Baker and Breadworks for some of our breads. We also will go to the local farmers market to source some things for specials on the weekends, and sometimes we will have some local farmers just show up at the kitchen door with some of their products to see if we can use them.”

Local ingredients are an integral part of The Exchange’s business strategy, and its one Hall says is appreciated by his guests.

“We get a premium product from these folks, and we like to support the community that supports us,” Hall says. “It’s part of our story, our staff gets to tell the guest where it came from and our kitchens get a chance to work with great products.”


Among this summer’s offerings are a stunning tuna ceviche that is paired with fresh watermelon, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro, fresh avocado and crispy tortillas and a Brie and Blueberry Grilled Cheese made with local blueberry jam, a drizzle of balsamic and sourdough served with kettle chips (bacon is a delicious upcharge that lends just the right amount of saltiness to the sandwich).

The fried chicken, served with a proprietary “firecracker” hot sauce, gouda mac and cheese, watermelon slaw and a black bean purée is also a popular dish, despite the summer heat. Aside from mouthwatering food, The Exchange’s bartenders create summer drinks that are also meant to tempt the palate. The Salt of the Earth is one of the restaurant’s bestselling cocktails, and it’s eye-catching as servers carry them on trays throughout the dining room. The sangria-esque drink features bison grass vodka (herb-flavored), elderflower liquor, pineapple, orange, vanilla simple syrup and red wine.

Customers drink “lighter in the summer, (with) more booze-forward cocktails in the winter,” Hall says. “I will say that our Signature Old Fashioned has been our best seller since day one, though. People love bourbon! Our beverage sales increase by about five percent (in the summer), so yes, warm weather leads to more beverage sales.”

The Exchange Kitchen + Pub is located at 118 W. Main in New Albany. It is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. A limited bar menu is available 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Dinner is served 5 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. The bar is open until 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.


It’s Farmers Market Time!

Do yourself a favor and find your local farmers market 

By Angie Fenton | Courtesy Photos

I grew up in a family where our mother instilled the value of tilling, planting and tending to a garden. My three sisters and I spent long hours pulling weeds and picking off tomato worms. We delighted at the first sign of anything sprouting and often ate some of our yield plucked right off the vine after a rinse from the hose.fm1

There was nothing like sitting down to dinner with a plate of freshly picked vegetables you knew were labored over lovingly.

Somewhere along the way, as I grew older, trips to the local supermarket became a necessity to save time, or so I thought. And I forgot how much better a handpicked peach or pepper tasted than those purchased from a store.

All of those simple pleasures were revived when I moved to Southern Indiana and discovered the New Albany Farmers Market, which is located on Market Street downtown.

Farmers from all over Southern Indiana set up booths filled with vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, eggs, milk, flowers and more. You can buy usual fare or try something more exotic – like the wasabi flowers and lettuce I fell in love with last summer.

Prices are comparable to grocery store produce and products, but at a farmers market you get the opportunity to talk with the people whose livings are made from their fare in our community. And you’re encouraged to ask questions.

But even more than that, shopping at the farmers market has become a social event and a reminder of why taking the time to appreciate the simpler things in life is important.

A couple years ago, I walked through the market  pregnant with my child. Week after week, the familiar, smiling faces behind the tables greeted me as I carefully made selections of kale, melons, cucumbers, honey, peaches and arugula, knowing my choices were also my unborn child’s.

fm2When she was born, one of our first warm-weather outings was to the farmers market, where I picked the week’s produce and dairy products as vendors fawned over my daughter.

Now that she’s walking, Olive will once again accompany me and her father on Saturday mornings as we make selections and contemplate new dishes, asking the farmers for their favorite ways to prepare a particular item.

We’ll also enjoy live music, sometimes purchase handmade jewelry or stained glass signs, and sit on a bench or at a picnic table eating a breakfast of BBQ, omelets or even a lobster roll, washed down with a side of pickle juice. And, on occasion, we’ll pick one of our for pooches to accompany us on our dog-friendly outing (don’t forget poo bags and all dogs must be leashed).

While the New Albany Farmers Market is my current favorite, I plan to explore any other Southern Indiana farmers markets I can find and encourage you to do the same.



New Albany Farmers Market New Albany Farmers Market
202 E. Market St.
8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays

• Arrive early if you can. Farmers can only bring so much to the market. Once it’s gone, it’s gone…until next week. Or the next growing season.

• Pick up a coffee or iced tea from Quill’s and then walk across the street to start a leisurely stroll around the market.

• Do a once-over first. Unless you see what you want immediately, compare prices and options.
Then, go back and make your purchases.

• Try new things. And ask questions if you’re unsure how to eat or cook it.

• Be prepared to see people you know – and enjoy the face-to-face interaction (that’s half the fun!).

• Let your little ones help pick what you purchase. Ensuring they’re involved will be beneficial for everyone.

• Dress in layers. And don’t forget the sunscreen.

• Thank the farmers and vendors for taking the time and care to be there. We need them as much as they need us.

Jeffersonville Farmers Market

The Jeffersonville Farmers Market is now open Saturdays at Big Four Station in Historic Downtown Jeffersonville next to the Big Four Bridge, near the corner of Mulberry Street and Market Street. The market is open from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays. There is free on-street parking and additional free parking in the grass of Colston Park on Mulberry Street. On Tuesdays, the market is located at the 10th Street entrance to Jeffersonville High School from 3 to 6 p.m.

Do you know of a Southern Indiana farmers market we should visit? Send an email to extol@extolmag.com.