Monday, March 1, 2010

Euphoria- A New Chef

***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.****

I reported several months ago that Euphoria lost its chef, who happens to be one of my favorites in Indy. We hadn’t been back just because things were so hectic and I figured I would give the new chef a bit of time to get settled in. Her name is Ivy Denman and she moved to Indy from Chicago where she worked at Blackbird restaurant. My parents, actually, were the ones who were nagging me to go back after they had a wonderful dinner over Valentine’s weekend. My Mom is not one to rave about food, but she did about Euphoria. So we decided it was time.

I had been checking the website every so often and the menu there hadn’t changed since Chef Denman’s arrival, which sort of had me uninspired. It turns out, however, that she actually changes the menu every two weeks and uses very seasonal and local ingredients. (Side note: Dear Euphoria, PLEASE change your website. It is so mish-mashy and visually unappealing and just not up to date. At least, at least, please keep the menu up to date. Even the web address doesn’t make sense.) Anyway, when we got there the menu was completely different from what I expected and reflected very wintry cuisine (which is very appropriate for mid February).

Although I am utterly and totally ready for some spring foods and I am getting worn out with winter, the combinations of flavors being put together at Euphoria are completely unique and I would say represent some of the most refined dishes available here in Indy. This is the hand of a very very skilled chef. I started with the grilled octopus with white bean puree, pancetta, tomato confit and potato. The octopus, while it had the flavor of actually being more smoked than grilled, was extremely tender and paired nicely with very thin, crispy, possibly baked pancetta and was served on the white bean puree. There were some roasted tomatoes there as well, although I would have really liked a bit more of the acidic flavor of the tomatoes to balance out the rich smokiness of the dish. But it was beautiful and extremely well prepared.

Hubby had the crispy sweetbreads with celery root puree, blueberry mustarda, and celery and cilantro salad with buttermilk puree. Wow, this was great. The sweetbreads were in the center of the plate on top of the celery root puree and garnished with the salad on top. Sweetbreads if you are not familiar, are pancreas. Doesn’t “sweetbread” sound so much lovelier? The sweetbreads were tender and perfectly fried and the flavors were amazing together. And again, the presentation was beautiful. And I want to comment on the portion size. It was perfect. These were appetizers and they were appropriately sized as appetizers. Not huge, but enough that you got the great flavor sensations and did not feel like you were left wanting more. I, for one, greatly appreciate this.

For my main, I ordered another appetizer, the braised fresh bacon with white grits, apples, olive honey and fried sage. This was a large piece of pork belly with a wonderfully crispy bacon-y edge that was set into the grits and was beautifully set off by the tiny little dices of green apple. The apples completely made this dish. The tartness of them added just the right sweet and tart flavor to the rich saltiness of the bacon. A perfect marriage.

Hubby had the crispy braised duck leg with the house-made pasta, parsnip puree, knob onions and cilantro. He really enjoyed this. It was basically like a fried duck leg—it had really crispy skin. The pasta was a simple ribbon in a creamy sauce, and was outstanding. Another chef with a great pasta-making ability. (I still do not understand why so many chefs that cook in non-Italian restaurants make so much better pasta than the Italian restaurants in this town. But I digress).

Euphoria also has a new pastry chef, and they are presenting several choices each night. They also have paired down the cheese selection, but are still offering several selections daily (they are listed in the wine list, so if you want cheese, that’s where it is). We shared the bread pudding with caramel sauce. They also brought us a nice dish of sorbet to cleanse the palette first which was nice and refreshing. Anyway, the dessert was quite large, definitely enough to share. It was good. Not spectacular, but good. The only thing that annoyed about the evening was the pace. It was a bit slow. Sometimes this is nice, but we were ending a busy week and would have preferred to get in and out a bit faster. Our server disappeared a few times, and I think they were busier than normal, but still, I think you should be able to have three courses and be in and out in less than 2 hours (unless of course lingering is what you want, but in that case, you can always draw out your meal by ordering more slowly).

The thing about Euphoria is it has never had a problem with its food as far as I am concerned. It was wonderful under the helm of Chef Gates, and it is again with Chef Denman. They have totally different styles but are both up there in our local scene as far as I am concerned. But for whatever reason, this place has struggled to get butts in seats. I am not sure if it is the location, the parking (it is all street parking, although I have never had a problem finding a space), service issues, or that people have just never heard of it. The interior is quite warm and inviting, but recently at another dinner I overheard a conversation where someone was talking about how much they enjoyed the new chef, but that they hated eating practically alone in the dining room. At this most recent visit, the restaurant was probably nearly half full, and it is a big dining room, but it is sort of a let-down when you know it has some of the best food in Indy. So have you been? If not, why not? I am quite curious about this.

Regardless, I am telling you, I am very excited about the new chef. I hope that she can make it work at Euphoria, because she is a very, very welcome addition to our landscape. She has a gift for matching flavors from all areas—the sweet, the savory, and the tart-- and bringing them together extremely well on the plate. This is another place that I cannot wait to get back to in the Spring (not to mention that lovely deck is always so nice in good weather). Seriously, get over there and give it a go--she is doing great things with food!

Euphoria
337 West 11th Street
Indy, 46202
317-955-2389
www.indycanal.com

6 comments:

  1. You had me at "crispy sweetbreads."

    Sweetbreads, btw, can include the pancreas, but more often include the veal thymus gland. (At least, that's usually the case when I've bought them here in the midwest.)

    Mmmm. Sweetbreads.

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  2. Hearty agreement regarding the website issue. You know me: Before I go to any restaurant I check the website first (if they have one)--and I often make a decision among multiple choices by what I find on the site, a la "what sounds good/what do I feel like." I doubt I'm alone in this "strategy." And I would also suggest that having no site at all would be better than having one that is out-of-date and poorly executed. This is a critical asset for a restaurant in this day and age, particularly one that has a frequently-changing menu.

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  3. braingirl-
    true, about the thymus... so do you find you like one better than the other?

    BFF- I know, I know... and I agree maybe none would be better than really outdated...or just write at the top "Sample Menu" with an explanation that it often changes...

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  4. Went visited Euphoria during Devour Downtown a few weeks back. Our meals were excellent as is the wine by the glass selection. But the place was empty- in that big dining room, we were 1 of only 4 tables. Great food, but it is hard to go to a restaurant that is so empty.

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  5. The only time we've ever seen Euphoria anywhere near full (I think we've been 5 times) was the pre-opening dinners. I agree that it's sad given how wonderful the food is.

    What's more sad is that we haven't gotten around to figuring out the babysitter thing with our 5 m/o so we can get back to Euphoria! We keep saying that it's our first destination when we get out the door alone. Your glowing review of Chef Denman may be the push we need to do so.

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  6. my husband and i just bought a gift certificate to euphoria from www.restaurant.com. they usually have an 80% coupon code (this week i believe it is CHEF) hopefully that will bring more people in the doors. i'm excited to try it!

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