Earlier this year, we were stuck in New Castle, IN for an evening, thanks to the fact that all the hotels within a 30 mile area around Indianapolis were filled due to the Indianapolis 500. Or, I should say, hotel rooms in the Indianapolis area that were $99 a night on Friday night were suddenly $249 the evening before the race. And there were people willing to pay that kind of money for those rooms. I wasn't.
New Castle is an interesting town. It's approximately 45 miles to the east of Indianapolis (see map). The largest high school gymnasium in the nation is located in New Castle. The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame is there, as well as the New Castle Correction Facility, which holds 2500 inmates.
New Castle was also home to a large Chrysler metal forging facility, which I'm told, employed close to 3500 people at one time. However, Chrysler laid off a number of workers and eventually sold it a few years ago to Michigan-based Metaldyne, which, in turn was bought by a Japanese company three years ago. Today, it employs between 500 and 600 people.
New Castle is also the home to Steve Alford, the former University of Indiana basketball star, who also was an Olympian in 1984, and who also was the head coach for the Iowa Hawkeye basketball program for eight years before running the program into the ground and leaving for the University of New Mexico in 2007. (End of editorial comment regarding Steve Alford and University of Iowa basketball.) One of the hotels in New Castle is the Steve Alford All-American Inn. No, we didn't stay there. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express (which, as I write, is no longer a Holiday Inn property), next door.
Now, other than all that, there doesn't seem to be much of anything socially redeeming about New Castle. We saw some very scary looking people with questionable upbringings in the short time we were there. Plus the fact, other than an Applebee's, there's not much in the way of fine dining in the town.
We asked the front desk clerk if there was any good place to eat and she gave us a copy flyer on a place called Macaboo's located just south of the city. It was a new sports bar/restaurant and I immediately vetoed that venue as a place to eat. However, after driving around for a bit, then checking the Yellow Pages, and then asking a couple of the local yokels regarding a place to eat, it appeared that Macaboo's WAS the center of haute cuisine in the greater New Castle area.
Here's the conversation I had with a lady at a gas station/convenience store:
Me: Is there any place good to eat around here?
Lady: Now, what do you mean by good?
Me: You know, a place to get a good steak. That type of thing.
Lady: Well, there's Applebee's...
Me: No, we don't want to do Applebee's. We're looking for more of a steak house, supper club-type thing. Is there something like that around here?
Lady: Well, do you want to drive for a bit?
Me: Well, as long as it's not 30 miles out of town. We'll go back to Indy if we have to drive that far.
Lady: Well, there's this new place a few miles down the road. I forget the name of the place, but I hear it's pretty good.
She turned to the girl working with her and said, "What's the name of that new place that opened up a couple months ago?"
Girl: The one outside of town?
Lady: Yeah, the one down by the Interstate.
Girl: Gee, I don't know. Macabee's, Macadoo's, somethun' like that.
Me: You mean Macaboos?
Girl: Yeah, that may be it. I don't know. I haven't been out there, but I hear it's good.
Lady: Yeah, that's the place. It's a little bit of a drive, but it's good food.
I'm guessing that "driving for a bit" for this lady was something less than a 10 minute drive. Going to Indy was probably a two-day trip to her.
So, after initially vetoing Macaboos as a dining destination, we suddenly found it to be the ONLY place to eat in New Castle - other than Applebee's which was the absolute last ditch choice should this Macaboos turn out to be a complete truck stop diner. We drove out south of town and found Macaboos just past the Interstate exit for New Castle (see map).
We got out to Macaboos about 8 p.m. It appeared to be a very nice, stately dark wood building just south of Interstate 70 (see map). Ryan Ogle of Greenfield, IN bought the building that houses Macaboos about two and a half years ago. After a few construction delays, the Macaboos bar opened in January of this year. And the steak house opened two months later.
There's a large central area as you walk in with a hostess stand just inside the door. On the left side is a large bar area, and on the right is the dining room. It's definitely rustic and "Old West" in its decor. And there's a number of flat panel screens throughout that are showing the current sporting events.
We were seated in a booth and our waitress brought out our menus. Macaboos wasn't anything fancy, but considering what we witnessed in New Castle, it was a five-star eating establishment.
I'm not going to belabor the point of this entry any longer. Cindy had a chicken breast dinner with some potatoes, I had a very "iffy" New York strip steak with potatoes. The steak was pretty thin, compared to other New York strips I've had at restaurants and at home. But it tasted fine and wasn't over-cooked.
I did take pictures of the place, but found out that my camera was set to "Manual focus" and not "Automatic focus". I had pictures of the front, a couple interior shots and a shot of a soon to be opened outdoor party area next to the bar. For New Castle, Macaboos was THE place to be.
So, if you ever end up in New Castle, Indiana - and I hope you don't have to - there's really only one place to eat (other than Applebee's) and that's Macaboos. But don't expect an "out of body" experience with the food. It's serviceable and good, but not outstanding.
(Update - not long after this post was published, the owners of Macaboos filed for bankruptcy and shuttered the place up in October of 2008. The building sat vacant for nearly three years before John Montgomery bought the building and contents and opened up Montgomery's Steakhouse in August of 2011.)