Wow! A pleasant surprise for a change. It had been a couple of years since we have been to 14 West—the first time hubby had a really good meal and I didn’t, and the second time I had a pretty good one and he had a bad one, so I haven’t been able to get him back there. But the other night, just after Christmas, we were looking for something different but sorta fancy (had the in-laws with us) so we decided on 14 West.
I have always liked the interior of this place. It is modern, but feels like you are in a nice restaurant. I was slightly annoyed that I had called ahead and had been told there was a valet, only to find there was not when we got there, and we sort of needed one that night. But luckily we scored a very close street spot purely by chance (I mean, there was a Colts game this day). Which was the only other thing that was slightly annoying (to me anyway, maybe not to the men at my table)—the game was playing throughout the restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Colts, but I also like a nice dinner without hearing the game in my ear. I mean, play it in the bar, and leave it at that.
Anyway, let’s talk about the food—it was really good. We started with 2 orders of the Southern fried oysters. They were outstanding. The oysters were small and really crunchy—there were 6 of them per plate. I loved that you could really pop the whole thing in your mouth at once. In the middle of the plate were several sweet potato pancakes with a Brussels sprouts gratin. I loved this. Loved it. The gratin was amazing—nice hunks of the sprouts in a rich creamy sauce. The whole plate was also drizzled with a nice remoulade which was great combined with both things. The only thing that didn’t excite me on the plate was the potato pancakes; they didn’t have much flavor—seemed pretty much just a base to scoop up the Brussels sprouts. They served that purpose but didn’t really add anything else. You want some really good fried oysters, which are the right size, next to Z’s Oyster Bar; I think these are the next best. (And by the way, if you don’t do oysters, you can get the gratin as a side dish. You should.)
I had a salad course as well, because I ordered another starter for my main dish. I had the chopped green salad which included chopped greens, avocados, cucumbers, blue cheese, tomatoes, red onions, and bacon tossed in a house made ranch dressing. The salad was good. Not amazing, but quite tasty. And I like a chop salad that is properly dressed and tossed. I did ask for it without cucumbers and got them anyway (and my mother-in-law ordered the hearts of palm salad and asked for it without olives, but got them anyway as well). Her salad was probably a bit better, more of the tangy flavors I like, and hubby and I ate all the olives for her with pleasure.
For my main dish, I ordered the crab cake from the appetizer menu. The one thing I remembered about 14 West that I didn’t particularly care for from the previous visits, was that the portions were pretty enormous. I also ordered a side of their version of lobster Brie mac and cheese (called a “signature” dish). The crab cake was served with bacon, a sunny side up egg, mushrooms and hollandaise sauce. I told you, throw an egg on stuff, and I usually love it. Anyhow, all these flavors made it sort of slightly breakfast-y in taste, but I enjoyed it. The bacon was actually small dices on the side though, so it wasn’t totally like an eggs benedict or anything. But it was extremely rich, that is for sure. The crab cake was made up mainly of lump crab and was well done. There was only one, but it was big—if I ordered this for an appetizer by myself, to be followed by an entrée, I wouldn’t be able to get through half of it. As it was, I didn’t finish it. Hubby had a couple bites and agreed with my assessment. The mac and cheese was good—not the best in Indy (doesn’t everyone seem to have lobster mac and cheese these days?). The pasta part was nice, and there were quite a few lobster claws in there, but I found the lobster itself to just be ok—maybe a little mealy.
I had a bite of my mother-in-law’s seabass as well—it was seared fish with red wine risotto, mushrooms, and basil aioli. She commented several times that it was “fabulous.” The bite I had was really good—I had a flashback to San Francisco—I used to only order fish when I was out for quite a good while because everywhere seemed to cook fish like this—a super crispy seared outer edge and still super flaky moist interior. And the risotto and aioli were really nice accompaniments. Hubby loved it as well. Speaking of which, he had the duck confit. He said it was good, but the weakest point of the meal for him. I think he liked everyone else’s food better. My father-in-law had the lobster ravioli and raved about it as well. I never got a chance to try it before noticing his plate was clean.
So the food was really good—the service was a bit slow considering we were one of about 3-4 tables in the whole place pretty much the whole time. There was quite a delay between our salads and entrées. But it was okay, because the game was letting out and we didn’t want to get into that traffic for sure.
I apologize for the lack of pictures—forgot my camera (and the one of the oysters is dark I know—a phone pic). But hey, at least there is hope again at another downtown restaurant.
14 West Restaurant
14 West Maryland