Funny thing about our meal at Peterson’s, while it was happening, hubby and I had a great time, and a great overall experience. Later, when we compared notes, we both agreed that the experience was great, but really only about half the food was. (At any restaurant, I hesitate to talk about the food too much during a meal, because I like to enjoy the experience even if the food isn’t the best.) But the ambiance of Peterson’s is warm, the tables quiet and the service extremely professional yet friendly. You never wanted for anything (well, maybe for a few better dishes, but you can’t blame the server for that.). The wine was all very good, and the pace appropriate. This was a great comparison to Adobo for me. While obviously the food (and price point) is totally different, really good service and a decent table can really make a meal great, even if some of the food is only fair.
And I have to apologize in advance because when I went to take some pictures, I realized my camera was out of battery power, which is actually a very typical problem for me—I am a person who is always on my cell phone saying, “I gotta go! My phone’s about to die!” Annoying I know. Anyhow, it is a bit of a shame really, because the food is quite lovely.
Hubby and I have been here a couple of times and had actually similar experiences to this one and we keep hoping that one of these times we’ll get a meal that is spot on. But maybe it just isn’t possible. The appetizers were great. They had a rock shrimp and lobster ravioli on the menu and I was intrigued by the fact that they were priced individually at $5 each. I am thinking, this is perfect for me as usually I find portions, particularly of pasta, to be too big for me. I asked the server how big they were, and they were about as big around as an orange. He said for two people, usually people ordered two of them. Well, hubby wanted something else, so I got one. I love this concept. You get the taste, enjoy the flavors, but don’t feel like you are full before you even get your main course. The ravioli was delightfully rich, filled with butter poached lobster, rock shrimp (how come you don’t see more rock shrimp around—it really does make a great filling for pasta) mascarpone and spinach in a creamy sauce. Really good, but I certainly had enough with one.
Hubby had one of Peterson’s classic appetizers, which has been on the menu as long as I have lived here, the tempura Maine crab lobster fingers. Delicious (and hot!) pieces of the shellfish tempura battered and fried with a honey dip, and Dijon dip and dusted with chipotle dust. I had one and they were very good. The Dijon was my favorite dip. The tempura was super crispy and light.
So at this point, we are really happy. And for my main dish, I ordered a steak because they use Prime steak (the menu says the top 2% of the beef in the US) and honestly, although I certainly have not eaten at all the steakhouses in Indy (that would take months, really), I have so far found their steaks to be the best in the City. The meat is very flavorful and cooked just perfectly. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that I added the truffle butter accompaniment with it—those were some nice pieces of black truffle in there! Hubby agrees with me about their steaks and really likes the ribeye but we had agreed to split my steak (a filet) and something different so we could branch out a bit. So this is where things start to go down a bit.
Hubby ordered the halibut cheeks which were pan seared and served with a lemon caper cream sauce. The seafood dishes come with a side, which in this case were a grilled Romano and lobster polenta cake and spinach. Basically, the fish was totally overcooked. Now, I have a hard time in Indy knowing whether this was unintentional, or whether the kitchen thinks you have to cook fish to death to satisfy the Midwestern palate. Because I have been to quite a few restaurants in Indy (including fine dining restaurants) where the fish is overcooked. A friend recently told me he likes fish to be a touch overcooked, so maybe this is what the kitchen is going for. But in a City where sushi seems to thrive as well, I don’t get it. If you can eat it raw, why can’t you eat it cooked slightly less than “to death?” Someone, please explain. The flavors of the sauce were nice and would have been a fine accompaniment to a properly cooked fish dish, but as it was, it was a disappointment.
The other problem I have with Peterson’s is the side dishes. As is standard with a steak place (why did this start anyway—just to make more money?), you don’t get any sides with your steak. In the past, we have ordered several of the potato dishes (all of them actually except the baked potato) and have always been disappointed. So this time (because I do like a bit of potato with my steak) I ordered the baked potato. It was fine, but I mean really, a baked potato is so boring (but yes, I know, my own fault.)
We also ordered the corn risotto with melted leeks. Now I couldn’t remember if I had had this before, hubby said we had and it wasn’t great, but I ordered it anyway. I should have listened. It wasn’t good. As much as the fish was overcooked, the risotto was undercooked. It was crunchy. Now I know there is disagreement about how “al dente” risotto should or shouldn’t be, but I still think risotto is meant to be a dish that is creamy. The whole point of cooking it they way you do—slowly and stirring a lot is to bring out all the starch and make it creamy. “Melted leeks” are an ingredient on a menu that will almost always lure me in. These were not overly soft though and right now in Indiana the corn part should kick butt. It all just didn’t come together. Corn risotto, you are off the list. And I'll remember next time.
Like I said though, even though we were maybe not having the best second half of our dinner, we had had some wine and were really enjoying ourselves and decided to go for dessert. It was caramel apple walnut bread pudding with caramel cream sauce and vanilla ice cream. You can almost always lure hubby with anything with caramel and apple in it, so we went for it. It was okay, but nothing amazing. We did share the dessert wine flight with it though which was most enjoyable, and in retrospect, I would just skip the dessert and do the wine for dessert. Sweet enough to satisfy that craving for sure.
So even though really only about half our food was really good, what was good was really good. And the overall experience makes it worthwhile for a repeat visit to Peterson’s. We shall return.
7690 East 96th Street
Fishers, IN 46038
PS You have to be 21 to enter, so don’t try and bring the kids.