Wow. We had a really great meal the other night at Recess. It was funny because when I looked at the menu that day, I was sort of thinking, “eh, doesn’t seem that exciting.” But wow, everything came together beautifully and I really enjoyed this one much more than my first trip. I wasn’t going to write this one up (and thus, sorry, no pictures) because it wasn’t that long ago that I reviewed it, but after finishing this meal, I felt an obligation.
The first course was a salad of arugula with sliced fennel, shallots and julienned green apples, shaved parmesan with a walnut vinaigrette. There was half a little spring roll alongside too which was filled with, get this, avocado and bacon. Now this is my kind of spring roll. And the tanginess of the dressing and tartness of the apple was great with the richness and saltiness of the spring roll and the spicy kick from the fennel. The only thing I would have changed was making all the fennel pieces uniformly small; a few were so big that I didn’t eat them because it was just too peppery. But this was one of the best salads I have had in a long while. And I loved that everything was properly bite sized and dressed. And seriously, how can you go wrong with a spring roll stuffed with bacon and avocado? You can’t.
The next course was shrimp bisque with an asparagus cream and little pieces of those super skinny asparagus spears I love so much (have I mentioned lately how happy I am that it is spring?) Anyway, I love that this was just a small little portion of soup, not a huge bowl, because for whatever reason, I have a hard time eating a gigantic bowl of just about any soup. This was a nice portion and I ate every bite. The bisque had an amazing shellfish flavor and little bits of shrimp throughout. And a little dollop of the cream and the pieces of asparagus that were just the right amount of soft, but still with a bit of a firm bite to them. It was great.
The next, and main, course was a chicken dish. This is probably why when I saw the menu, was sort of thinking, “ho hum,” but wow. This was outstanding. So it was a chicken breast cutlet which was fairly thin, but not super thin, cooked in a wonderfully seasoned light breading, with all kinds of nice peppery flavor. It was served over a ragout type mix of Portobello mushrooms, wild ramps (which are similar to scallions, but with a bit more flavor) and little bits of the dark meat from the chicken in a soy jus. Seriously, this is some of the best chicken I have ever had. The cutlet was perfectly cooked, not dry in the least, and went perfectly with the other ingredients. It was appropriately hearty for early spring, on a cold night, but not overly so. The mushrooms were my favorite part. Little dices that were so flavorful, I got a little sad when I ate the last one. I cleaned yet another plate (and I am telling you this is unusual for me). Which brings me to my next point; I think Recess is serving the perfect portion sizes. This is what we should be eating America. Not two giant chicken breasts with twice as much starch on the side. But I digress.
For dessert, we had a sour cream panna cotta with dried cherries. Again, I was sort of thinking this didn’t seem that exciting, but it was also really good. The panna cotta had visible bit of vanilla bean in it, so you got that rich vanilla flavor combined with the slight tanginess of the sour cream. It was served with a little crispy wafer cookie that was also a really nice textural ingredient with the smooth panna cotta. And the cherries added a nice component as well. Again, I ate every bite.
So this is a perfect example to me of why what Greg Hardesty is doing at Recess is such a good thing. There’s a good chance I wouldn’t have ever ordered many of these things on a menu, but since you do not have a choice (and on this night there were no choices at all), you just relax and eat what you get. And it was wonderful.
We also had the wine pairing with the food and it was quite nice as well. I love wine, but I am not as knowledgeable as many foodies about it, and I love putting this decision into someone else’s hands. Especially someone who puts some real effort into it and does such a great job. The wines this night were a white Burgundy, a Chardonnay, and a Tempranillo. All were very nice with the food.
My only complaint of the evening was the fact that it was a fairly cold night outside and the restaurant was quite cold inside as well. Of course, this seems to be a common problem in Indy, but I get tired of wearing layers everywhere I go. And it detracts a bit from your meal when your teeth are nearly chattering. But other than that, I would say this was a nearly perfect meal, and I haven’t had one of those in quite a while.
4907 N. College