Monday, September 7, 2009

Peterson's

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.

Peterson’s
7690 East 96th Street
Fishers, IN 46038
317-598-8863
http://www.petersonsrestaurant.com/

PS You have to be 21 to enter, so don’t try and bring the kids.

3 comments:

  1. I have been to Peterson's multiple times and always find the food and service to be excellent!!! The Halibut Cheeks seem to be overcooked but are not, I have had them a few times and always excellent. They seem to be overcooked because it is a cheek which are stringy, and pull apart. But when I order any of the fish it is always cooked to perfection, rare or well done, you can have it anyway you want, but the cheeks are cooked the way they are. I know, I love them! The reason a steak house can't give a side for the steaks is the amount of money steaks cost per pound. To give a side, you must charge more. As good as the steaks are at Peterson's I don't mind paying the price and ordering a side! They are the best steaks in the city! I have also tried the risotto a few times, and it is always a hit at our table, and I would order it everytime without hesitation! I have tried several of the desserts and for not having a pastry chef and making their own desserts I think they do a fantastic job and I look forward to dessert course everytime. I must say I have never had anything bad at Peterson's or a bad experience and highly recommmend it to everyone!

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  2. Anon-
    I appreciate your feedback, and am glad you have had such great experiences. I have to disagree on the halibut cheeks though, as I have had them elsewhere and they were not dry like these were. Also I am glad you liked the risotto but after being burned a couple times, I wouldn't order it. I have also been to Peterson's at least four times and have always had a bit of a mixed experience. However, like I said, some of the food is outstanding and so is the service and atmosphere.

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  3. We finally tried Peterson's a few weeks ago, after having lived in Indy for over 2 years and having eaten at just about every other steakhouse in town. Our experience was very hit and miss- with more misses than hits.

    Appetizers started out good- the tuna tartar was solid. They brought me the wrong wine (by the glass), but corrected it promptly. Salads were fine, but our entres were horrible. I ordered the seared scallop appetizer as my main dish, and yes, it was a jumbo scallop, but it had been cut into 3 or 4 slices and each slice placed upon stake crostini. So if you looked at it from the top, it looked great with large scallops! But once lifted from the plate, you realized that each "scallop" was actually less than half an inch high. They must be back in the kitchen slicing each scallop into 3-4 "chips." My husband's rib eye was terribly undercooked. He ordered medium rare (warm pink center), but what came out was barely rare. Practically mooing. It was as if they seared the outside but forgot to continue cooking it. The center was reddish purple and cold. Difficult to cut because it was raw. The server quickly took it back (this is the 2nd thing he had to take back!)and brought out another steak, which was fine and properly cooked. But for the prices we paid, we expected better. With Flemings basically down the street and so much better, we will not be back to Petersons.

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Thanks, Erin