We drive by this place probably 6 times a week, and probably at least half of those times we have said, “We should really try this place.” And now that there is a new-ish chef, I thought, hey, what better time? And I have recently heard the previous owners have just recently reacquired the place as well. The exterior of this place and the fact that really the main entrance is really more the back door than the front is sort of weird, but once you get inside, the soothing, minimalist, modern interior calms you. The lighting is soft and the music nice.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, we are friendly with the server who waited on us the night we were there, because he has waited on us at several other locales, including L’explorateur and Euphoria (and even at Pizzology for a minute). It is also nice to know you are going to get great service from someone who knows about the food. So the chef at H2O, John Adams, is the previous sous chef from L’ex, and is quite young. I love that he is taking the primarily sushi menu and expanding it out. (Not being a huge fan of sushi rolls myself). He has added several hot appetizers as well as some hot entrees.
We started with the tuna tartar and a couple of oyster shooters for hubby. While hubby enjoyed the (small and good quality) oysters with a mignonette sauce, the real star of this course was the tartar. The tuna was outstanding in quality. It was marinated with soy, ginger, lemon and cilantro I believe, and served with wonton chips for dishing it up. It was really good. Even though when we first got it, it didn’t look that big, there is a lot of fish there and it is easily something to share, particularly with how rich and deep the flavors are.
Next as a little treat, we got a sampling of the chef’s charcuterie plate. Wow, this was outstanding. Everything on the plate was housemade and it was all really good, even the head cheese which I am normally not a huge fan of. Well, the platter consisted of the head cheese, a cured tuna, and a pork and chicken liver pate. There were beautiful accompaniments of giardiniera (lightly pickled veggies), caramelized cipollini onions, and pickled mustard seed. Seriously, it was all really really good. The slices of the chicken liver/pork pate were probably our favorite because hubby and I both love chicken liver. The giardiniera and the caramelized onions were delightful to cut the richness of the pate and head cheese. The giardiniera consisted of marinated onions, olives, jalapenos, and carrots. It wasn’t too spicy (although we are told can be varying in spiciness depending on how long it has been marinated). The whole plate was served with nice thin toasted and seasoned slices of baguette as well. I am telling you, this plate was a huge surprise from a sushi place. If they have it as a special, my recommendation is, get it. And it is certainly big enough for many people to share.
Next, we had the salmon carpaccio which was also really good. It was very thinly sliced raw salmon served with a lot of the traditional salmon accouterments, but in a new more refined way. There was a drizzle of a crème fraiche type sauce as well as a creamy green sauce which I believe was a bit of caper flavor. There were some capers on top as well as crispy blue potato chips. Salmon is not traditionally my favorite fish, but this dish made me love it.
Now it was at this point, where hubby said, “everything else could suck and I am coming back here to dinner tomorrow!” Unfortunately, I think he put a little jinx on the rest, because while it certainly didn’t suck, it wasn’t as good as the stuff at the beginning. We had also ordered one of the small warm entrees, the mussels and clams with sausage, blue potato, celery and tomato. Now the mussels were really good, small and tender and obviously fresh, and I loved the delicate but flavorful tomato broth they were served in. The potatoes didn’t really do anything to add and the clams were way too big for me (which to be fair were listed as Cherrystone clams). There was no way to eat the whole clam in one bite and there is just something wrong to me about cutting up a clam.
We also had a fluke cigar roll special which was a piece of fluke wrapped in a spring roll-type wrapper and fried, then rolled inside a sushi roll with some of the giardiniera. The flavors were unique but just wasn’t overly exciting to me, even though I really liked the giardiniera. Hubby agreed and he is more of a fan of sushi rolls than I am for sure.
We also had a dessert which was two spicy brownies served with crème anglaise and raspberries. They definitely had a little kick to them which is fun with a rich chocolately thing, but they were a bit dry.
One little gripe though unrelated to the food. Again, it's with the website. In this case, it looks pretty, but is horribly out of date. In fact, I don’t think it has changed since I started checking the menu more than a year ago. Please, please, with all the wonderful new menu items, get someone to update it every once in awhile.
But, I have to say, even with not being as wowed by the last few items of the evening, the first few items placed H20 up there as one of the better restaurants in Indy, at least in my mind. The chef is doing wonderful, creative things, and I was really impressed with that charcuterie plate. If he keeps up this new direction, they may need to add “Land” into their name somehow.
1912 Broad Ripple Avenue