Friday, April 3, 2009

Meridian-Revisit

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency. It is so important in a fine dining restaurant (I think anyway) and Meridian has some problems here. Not just from visit to visit, but even within the same meal.

This was my third trip to Meridian—the first being not so good, the second being very good and this last one, probably closely tied with the first. I am going to jump around a bit with my description of what we had, because I have to touch on the fried oysters first as my example of the consistency problem. The last time I went, hubby ordered the fried oysters and they were so good, they stuck out in my memory. We dined this night with another couple who had their own similarly good fond memories. No one wanted to share, so we ended up with 3 different orders, hubby and one of our friends ordered them for appetizers and I ordered mine as a main dish. First of all, I noticed right away how much larger the oysters are than what I remember and for me this is not necessarily a benefit. I like the small most tender ones best, not the ones as big as your head. Plus, I think the size of them just seemed to throw the proportions off because the tiny piece of bacon on top was totally lost in the hugeness of the oyster as was the creamy spinach mixture underneath. All you could really taste was the fried oyster and none of the other things that had made this dish so yummy. If you are going to use such large oysters, you need to up the amount of the other ingredients. The next problem with the oysters that arrived as appetizers was they were not crispy enough. I don’t know if the oil wasn’t hot enough or they weren’t cooked quite long enough, but they suffered. When mine came out later, luckily, I think the oil was properly heated as mine were much crispier, but again, consistency was a big issue. And again, I still think they were too big.

Before the oysters, we had ordered a plate of fried calamari that was a special on this night served with 3 sauces, Meridian’s version of a cocktail, a truffle aioli, and a remoulade. The calamari suffered from the same problem as the first round of oysters in that it wasn’t crispy enough. The calamari itself was good quality and I liked the cocktail and the truffle aioli, but a little crisper crust would have made this dish shine.

For my appetizer (I said I was skipping around a bit) I had a grilled asparagus dish served with truffle vinaigrette, blue cheese, bacon, and some little polenta cakes. It was okay, but the asparagus was the size of a small tree, and similarly woody. I tend to prefer thin tender asparagus, but maybe that is just me again. It was nicely grilled, and I liked the little polenta rectangles, but I couldn’t really taste the truffle in the dressing.

Hubby had duck and said it was actually undercooked which is unusual (seems like most kitchens tend to overcook duck vs. undercooking it.) He ordered it medium rare (what the kitchen recommended) but it was very rare. Other than that he said it was ok. Our friends split the Cajun jambalaya pasta and were not overly impressed either.

It was nice to have one of the former waiters from L’explorateur wait on us, and service was attentive but not annoying. In other words, service was very professional, the way it should be (why is this such a problem in Indy?) The interior of this restaurant is very nice, but I think it will be awhile before I will go back based on the lackluster food experience.

Meridian
5694 N. Meridian
Indy 46208
317-466-1111
www.meridianonmeridian.com

2 comments:

  1. Good review and perspective. My review of Meridian will launch this week. I had some wow moments and a few passable ones. I love the building, location and the menu. There are so few chefs in this city that you can trust will have an amazing meal every time. I want to include Meridian on that short list, but not yet.

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  2. The consistency problem is definitely a big issue in Indy. I'd like to hear from a restaurant owner and get their perspective on why this is such a problem. Is it an inability to hire and retain good staff? Or is it more a result of a non-discerning clientele that can't tell the difference, so the staff doesn't feel motivated to bring their A game every night?

    I'm getting really tired of going to expensive restaurants in this town and getting mediocre, going-through-the-motions meals thrown in front of me. When you're dropping well over $100 for dinner that's unacceptable.

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Thanks, Erin