Saturday, January 17, 2009

SI/Scholars Inn -- once again

So in the interest of full disclosure, I want to start by saying that we were invited to SI by the restaurant because they were concerned about my last review and wanted me to come give it another try—so they provided us a meal to give them another opportunity. I have since given this practice a lot of thought, spoken to some fellow bloggers and have decided to discontinue accepting free meals. From here on out, I want my posts to be totally unbiased in any way (well, they are anyway, but I want to avoid any appearance of bias). Thus, I am posting my new policy in this regard in the following post.

Anyway, I will start by saying that I am happy I did go back, as this meal was much better than the last (and closer to the way it was the first time we went). The chef de cuisine, Josh (who cooked our meal for us this night), brought us 2 starters—the marinated calamari and the chicken wings which are a new item on the menu.

Ok, let’s get this out of the way. Here’s the thing with the calamari. We had it the last time and didn’t like it—I didn’t know if it was off or what, but we had it again and we both still didn’t like it. I love calamari in general, prepared in most any way, sautéed, fried, whatever (unless it is chewy) but the flavors here are too over the top for me—it is a strong sesame and ginger flavor and is served cold. I asked the server if this was a popular dish and he said it was probably one of their two most popular appetizers, so there you go. Obviously my tastes are different, and maybe you might like it, but I do not.

The chicken wings were more enjoyable—they were fried with a sweet bay mustard glaze. I am not sure exactly what that means but it was sort of a sweet very mild mustard glaze that tasted like it may even have some honey in it. There was a nice creamy blue cheese fondue drizzled on top. An interesting take on chicken wings. I probably would not order chicken wings normally (at least not in a restaurant like this), but these were meaty and not too bad, if not a little sweet for my taste.

Next we were brought what was clearly the star of the evening; a salad the chef prepared for us that isn’t on the menu. I think this may be one of SI’s problems. This salad was fantastic. It needs to be on the menu. It was fresh spinach with sliced red onions and sliced fennel with orange segments and light vinaigrette served with 2 amazing and perfectly cooked sea scallops. They were caramelized exactly the way they should be on both sides and were still medium rare in the middle. Items like this could take this place to another level. A lot of the appetizers seem a little one dimensional, but this salad was one of the best things I have eaten around here in awhile. Get it on the menu guys! (When I asked about this, I was told that the chef does try to have fresh fish specials, but keeping such things on the menu all the time was tough).

For our mains, I had the lime and cumin marinated skirt steak with sweet chile sauce and charred corn and black beans. It was good—I liked that you could really taste the marinade and it gave the meat a unique and fresh flavor. I could have done with a bit of starch besides the beans to go with it, but that’s just me. It was huge I will say, and by this point, we were getting pretty full. Hubby had the short rib with tamarind glaze and scalloped potatoes. He had the short rib the first time we went, loved it, had it a second time and was really disappointed. This time he was very happy and thought it was back up to the high standard of the first time. Apparently this is something that Chef Brenchley considers a specialty, so it was nice to see it back up to its original high standard.

We ordered off the half off wine list which is being advertised and were quite happy with our selection. The weird thing about the list is it doesn’t have prices on it so it is hard to know what it is half off of.

We also were seated upstairs for the first time and I really enjoyed this atmosphere better than downstairs. I appreciate the interior of this place for a classy modern feel, but some of the tables leave you feeling almost too isolated. I do like to feel like I am eating out amongst people when I am eating out. Upstairs, even in a pretty private booth, you can look out at other people at other tables, but they aren’t so close that you have to listen to their entire conversations.

I am glad to see the menu being changed up a bit, and I hope to continue to see more changes. And maybe take some of the old standbys off and make people try new things. I know this is a risky move in this part of the country where people are so resistant to change, but other chefs are doing it in Indy, and are doing it successfully. There is some inspired cooking going on here, and there is clearly talent, let’s see it shine.


Scholar’s Inn/SI
725 Mass Ave
317-536-0707
http://www.scholarsinn.com/

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Thanks, Erin