***As of June 5, 2011, Euphoria is closed as a restaurant and is only open for private events. The chef has also left the restaurant.****
Well, we took some friends who had never been to Euphoria for devour downtown (what? It’s a new season, and yes, I love this place). Anyway, I was interested to see what they would do for the devour downtown menu. I am really trying to eat off the $30 menus to see if restaurants are really showcasing their best. And because I want to see what I would think if I walked in for the first time specifically to try the cheaper menus.
I was glad to see that the Euphoria menu featured something besides steak (which I have seen on most of the menus) and highlighted one of the chef’s specialties, the scallops grenobloise. Another nice touch was that they were offering a wine pairing with each course for an additional $20.
Anyhow, I started with the Gruyere Salad which was red oak leaf and bibb lettuce with gruyere, croutons and a Dijon vinaigrette. I have had this salad before, and it is tasty. Properly dressed (actually tossed in the dressing) and had the cheese and croutons tossed in as well so they were nicely distributed. I kind of have a pet peeve with a lot of the restaurants in this city about salads. I hate when they give you these nice salads with great greens and then either drizzle a tiny bit of dressing on top or pile all the toppings on top in a bowl that is far too small to mix them up in. The best salads I have had are ones where you can stick your fork in, get a bite, and taste all the flavors at once. Even the dressing. This is a salad like that. Still fairly simple, but the flavors are all there in each bite.
Hubby had another classic standby, the steak tartare off the bar menu. It was, as usual, yummy and huge. Seriously, that is a lot of meat. Enough for 4 people I think. It looks so pretty all layered the way it is served, but hubby always promptly mixes it all together into a yummy mash. But I am glad to see this staying on the menu, as I haven’t had it anywhere else around here where it is any good (I can only think of one other place where I have even seen it on the menu).
I had the scallops for my main. They are always perfectly seared (yes, I have had them a few times) and they are served over fingerlings from the farmers market with green beans and garlic croutons and lemon caper butter. I love the totally zip of the lemon butter. You can actually tell there is lemon (and capers too) in there. It is tangy. And that’s how I like it. The croutons are nice with it too, although mine had absorbed a bit too much of the sauce and were a little soft. I have had it before when they are really crunchy and I like the juxtaposition of the softness of the scallops with the crunch of the croutons.
The other choice on the devour menu was a roasted chicken with maitake mushrooms, polenta and a black truffle-fines herbs jus. This was a tough decision for me because I have had this before as well and it is also really tasty. One of the few places I would actually consider ordering chicken out (I hardly ever do). I think the only other place I did it often was the Slow Club in San Francisco (man, they could cook some mean chicken). But back on topic, one of my dining companions did order the chicken and she and her husband both really enjoyed it.
Hubby had the sardine appetizer for his main dish. They were grilled whole sardines with sweet cherry tomatoes, arugula and lemon-thyme vinaigrette. This was probably the only let down of the evening. Hubby ate a whole lot of whole grilled sardines in Europe and generally really likes them. Unfortunately, these were a bit too small and the bone to meat ratio a little high. The flavors were good, but it was hard to get the meat off the bones easily.
I had the chocolate cake “cappuccino” for my dessert which was a warm molten chocolate cake served in a coffee mug with a mocha-brown sugar crème fraiche. It was pretty tasty and a unique way to serve it. But I have to say, the standout dessert was the rather large cheese board we ordered. We asked the chef to put together a nice plate (we generally like the stinkier ones) when we ordered our appetizers so that they cheese could come to room temperature. I applaud Euphoria for being the only place in town with such an extensive cheese menu. And now, it is expanding even further with the addition of new cheeses from a new purveyor. I can’t even begin to tell you all the ones we had, but suffice it to say, they were good. And gooey. My only gripe was that the crackers were too flavored and detracted a bit from the cheese flavor. I like mine plain. Or maybe a little sweet. So I asked for some bread, which they nicely toasted for me, and I was set. Oh! I totally forgot about the bread thing too. One of the things that Euphoria in its current and former incarnation has struggled with (in my opinion) is the bread service. But they have started baking their own bread, and it is really good. Nice and soft with a good crust and a slightly sweet edge. Kudos to that. Come to think of it, if they could slice it super thin and then toasted it, it would be amazing with the cheese.
Ok, one last little gripe…what happened to the pasta? I love the pasta at Euphoria (and the half orders) and I miss it. What I really wanted was an order of the papardelle with local corn, pancetta and Parmesan cream that came as a side with the one side seared beef. That sounds awesome.
I do appreciate the fact that almost every dish utilizes fresh items from local Indiana farmers--if you read through the menu you will see many local farms mentioned. I know Chef Gates hits the farmers market regularly to assure fresh produce on the menu. It really makes a difference.
Hey, I just noticed on the website they are extending the devour menu through Labor Day. Now’s the time. I tell you, for $30, this menu is a steal (I mean the scallops a la carte alone are $27!). And this is a devour downtown menu that is, in fact, showcasing what this kitchen is all about.
337 West 11th Street
http://www.indycanal.com/ (glad to see they're working on their website...although it still doesn't fit on my screen right).