Located in Fountain Square on Shelby Street, the shelBi street caFe & Bistro spells its name with an "i" instead of a "y" and makes use of some unorthodox capitalization rules. The story goes that the owners of the restaurant bought the letters for their sign from a now-defunct flower shop in the interest of recycling and saving a little cash. There was no "y" in the flower shop's name, so the restaurateurs improvised. Thankfully, such cost-cutting measures do not seem to extend to the cafe's food, which was, by and large, high-quality and delicious on my recent brunch visit.
As you can probably tell from the picture above, finding the entrance to the restaurant can be a little bit tricky. You need to head into the famous Fountain Square Theater Building through the Shelby Street entrance and then turn to the right. If you turn left you'll end up in Imbibe (a bar) and/or the Smokehouse on Shelby (a BBQ place). The interior of the cafe is vibrant and colorful with plenty of tables and booths. It has a laid-back vibe that I really appreciate, especially on Sunday mornings.
The Sunday brunch menu consists of breakfast items such as French toast, waffles, a selection of gourmet three-egg omelets, a quiche of the day (which included ham, roasted red pepper, and spinach on my recent visit), eggs Benedict, and a smoked salmon plate plus lunch items like green salads (spinach, caesar, etc.), a chicken salad sandwich, and a grilled portabella sandwich. They serve coffee from Indianapolis-based Hubbard & Cravens as well as the usual complement of espresso-based drinks.
After studying the menu for a while, my two friends and I made our choices. One of my friends went with the "Good Morning Combo," which comes with three eggs cooked how you like them, choice of meat, a side of roasted potatoes, and your choice of bread. He chose to go with sunny-side-up eggs, bacon (ordered crispy), and wheat toast. My other friend decided to try lunch, ordering a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant with a bowl of fruit on the side. I opted for the eggs Benedict, which, I find, is always a good "test dish" for brunch spots.
I am happy to report that none of us was disappointed. My eggs Benedict was delicious, the eggs nicely poached and the Hollandaise sauce buttery and a little lemony. Instead of ham, the chef used bacon, which I found I prefer. I usually see this dish served with ham, but I may start requesting it with bacon instead. The "Good Morning Combo" came out just as ordered, including the crispy bacon. My friend regretted not ordering an English muffin instead of toast, but that was his own fault! As for the chicken salad, it was just okay. There was nothing wrong with it, but there was nothing remarkable about it either. The award for best chicken salad in Indy remains safely with Hoaglin to Go. Still, my friend ate up the whole sandwich. He says he'll try something else next time, though. The fruit that came with the sandwich looked nice and fresh, at least! The service was uniformly good. We never ran out of coffee.
The shelBi street caFe & Bistro serves breakfast on Saturdays from 9:00 to noon and brunch on Sundays from 9:00 to 1:30. Lunch is Monday through Friday from 11:00 to 2:00 and Saturdays from 11:00 to 5:00. The restaurant also serves dinner Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 5:00 to 9:00. For a great view of the city, you can even eat your dinner under the stars on the roof of the Fountain Square Theater Building (from Memorial Day to Labor Day). I'll have to post a review of that experience at a later date!