Monday, February 7, 2011

Euphoria- Revist (Devour Downtown)

***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.****

Wow. Seriously, this was a great meal.  One of those kinds of meals that make you know that you are getting to experience food from a chef who really gets it. We hadn’t been back to Euphoria since the last visit which was marred by really off service.  And frankly, when I suggested it for this last Saturday of Devour Downtown, hubby said, “fine, but if the service is as bad as it was last time, I am never going back.”  But both the Devour menu and the regular menu looked so good, I was willing to take the chance because in the past I have always had very good food from Chef Denman.
Let me start by saying just for full disclosure, I am not anonymous in the restaurant—the Chef knows who I am and always comes over to chat with us while we are there.   Our server was new to us though, and right away impressed us with his professionalism.  He was attentive and knowledgeable but left us alone when we wanted to be left alone.  Our service all night was great.  So already, we were starting off better.
Anyway, we decided hubby would get the Devour menu and I would order off the regular menu (there was skate!).  So I ordered the phyllo wrapped goat cheese appetizer ($10). It came with a salad of green apples, fennel, red onion and in a citrusy vinaigrette. This was amazing. Seriously.  First, it was beautiful—the phyllo wrapped the creamy goat cheese in a dramatic way and the salad was a bit tart but with a bit of bite from the onions—it went perfectly with the goat cheese and the crispy bits of phyllo.  I would get this again in a heartbeat.
Hubby had the smoked salmon cannoli with fennel and grapefruit.  This was a very inventive dish—the dish was served cold, and the crispy cannoli were stuffed with smoked salmon and fennel with crushed pistachios on the end—they  were served with a little salad of arugula with a creamy dressing. Hubby can’t eat grapefruit, so he had them leave it off. However, it was all really nice together and one of the more unique takes on smoked salmon.  The grapefruit probably would have been a great addition though, adding a bit of acidity.  At this point we were fighting over whose app was better (it was mine by the way).

We were also served a little middle course of the sweetbreads that are on the menu.  They are crispy fried with creamed sauerkraut, smoked grapes, arugula and hazelnuts.  Wow, these were outstanding as well.  The creamed sauerkraut’s accent was on the creamy, with just a teeny hint of the sauerkraut flavor.  The grapes were really good with a bit of the sauerkraut and the sweetbread, and the nuts adding just a little texture.  It was a perfect combination.
I had the skate wing with angel hair pasta, preserved lemon pesto, fried cauliflower and watercress ($22).  The skate was well seasoned and cooked just right (it was seared). I liked a bite of it, and its mild flavor, with a bit of the lemony pasta and a little bit of the crunchy fried cauliflower.  The cauliflower tasted like it was crusted with a panko-type crust.  It was a very large portion for me and I couldn’t finish it, but we both really enjoyed it.  I love seeing skate on a menu, which is a member of the ray family, and is a very tender white fish (or ray).  If you haven’t had it, and like thinner flaky fish, and you see skate on a menu, give it a try.  I have rarely had it dried out, and it seems to remain juicy when other fish often seem overcooked.
Hubby had the flatiron steak from the devour menu, which was sliced, served on top of whipped cauliflower and with pickled turnips.  The meat was really smoky flavored and perfectly medium rare.  The smooth cauliflower (that looked basically like mashed potatoes and worked as a starch in the same way) and vinegary turnips were also a unique and well planned variation in texture and taste.  And for a devour menu, the portion was just as large as my non-devour entrée.  When you consider the same steak (albeit with different sides) is $28, Devour is a great deal here.
We shared hubby’s Devour dessert—the hazelnut mousse cake with caramelized hazelnuts—it was just the right amount of choclately flavor, without being too much.  The mousse was light, and the caramelized hazelnuts were like a bit of hazelnut brittle on top.
So when we got there at 6:30, the place was nearly empty which surprised me for a Saturday Devour evening.  By the time we left, it was much busier, but probably not more than 75% full.  So it made me wonder, those of you who have been and not been back, why? And those who haven’t gone? Why not?  This is certainly one of the steals for Devour Downtown, and with some great, unusual things on the Devour menu (unlike a lot of places).  Since our service was spot on, I am back to thinking this is one of the best restaurants we have in Indy.  I sat there and felt like I could be in any city in the country and would have thought this was a damn good meal.  Better than any I have had in quite awhile. Chef Denman has a tremendous amount of finesse in her cooking, and her skills and talent are shining through.
Euphoria
337 West 11th Street
Indy  46202
317/966-2389
www.creationcafeandeuphoria.com (and they have even been working on the website!)

7 comments:

  1. Euphoria is hands-down my favorite Devour Downtown spot and is probably top 3 favorite overall in the city. We weren't able to get there this time, but I can't wait to get back after reading your review!

    Regarding your questions: the fact that I love Euphoria aside, I've said since that space originally opened as Tavern at the Temple that it was the wrong concept for the location. There are three types of customers you should be catering to at that location:

    1. The lunch crowd.
    2. The HUGE number of young professionals and graduate school students that live on the canal (seriously, there are about 2000 of us living here).
    3. People out enjoying the canal that might randomly pop into a restaurant.

    Euphoria fails across the board (note that Creation Cafe clearly nails all three and does VERY well).

    1. Not even open during the lunch -- INSANE. Have you seen the lunch crowds at Creation Cafe?!
    2. For various reasons, not grabbing the young professionals.
    3. No way you're grabbing random diners at that price point.

    It's also a weird location with weird parking options that put people off (not that it's really that hard, people just like easy). I continue to wish them the best of luck because I'm blown away by the food every time I'm in there, but I just don't see that place ever being packed all the time like Recess.

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  2. The reason I have not tried Euphoria's Devour Downtown menu is because there is no vegetarian option. I realize this is a life choice I have made, but it doesn't seem like it would be too hard (or much of an expense) for Euphoria to include a vegetarian entree. It's my beef with most of the Devour menus (ha! pun intended). I see they have included a vegetarian option for their Valentine's Day menu...

    Just started reading your blog and it's great to read your opinions about the restaurants in Indy. Thanks!

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  3. I have never visited Euphoria for Devour Downtown, but I used to go there a little more often especially for their old Monday and Tuesday night bar food specials. The food was always outstanding, although I never ordered off the main menu. I stopped going in as much when the old bartender left to open Ball & Biscuit. Im spacing on his name but his service was always wonderful. I second the idea that parking might have something to do with it. Im an IUPUI student so Im pretty flexible about parking but the situatin around that building is still confusing to me.

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  4. Joe in Montgomery OHFebruary 7, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Erin, sorry I didn't check my e-mail on Saturday afternoon, but glad you went. Joan and I had the steak, starting with the smoked salmon canoli and ending with the mousse.

    First though, I must respectfully disagree with CorrND regarding Euphoria. Creation Cafe serves the market described and downtown needs a slightly more formal restaurant and service to match. Euphoria hits this with a "bullseye".

    Now to the food, couple next to us at the bar, while we had our pre-dinner Cosmopolitans, had the best looking charcuterie board I've seen outside of NYC or a couple of places in South Philly.

    The excellent salmon didn't need the canoli, but it is different. Steak was cooked rare as ordered and taste reminded me a good French bavette. Slightly chewy,but wonderful flavor. Cauliflower/Potatoes are a hit and the mousse was worth every calorie. Service was friendly and very professional with a young lady from Wisconsin in training overseen by an experienced staffer. This is how you do it folks!

    Bottom line is it is worth the two hour drive from Cincinnati to spend the weekend and dine here. We love it. Ms. Denman doesn't miss a trick and is constantly overseeing what goes out of that open kitchen.

    My step-daughter and two girlfriends used to visit us in Vermont to go to local craft shows. There coming in September for the Penrod Arts Festival and we will be having dinner at Euphoria.

    In short, this "Slow Foodie's" highest recommendation. Euphoria would be a hit in Chicago, New York or wherever. Long may they prosper

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  5. thanks to all of you for your feedback.

    Joe- no worries, I always love a recommendation from a reader and was curious as to what you all had. But ultimately, it didn't matter, we had such a great meal.

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  6. oh, and I meant to say also, the dessert at Euphoria that I had in this review was provided to Euphoria by Circle City Sweets. Quite tasty!

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  7. Just wanted to add a comment that Chef Ivy Denman has been nominated by Food & Wine for the best new chef in the Great Lakes. That is an honor, and she is the only one from Indiana this year. If you are interested in voting, go here: http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/02/15/food-wines-the-peoples-best-new-chef-2011-great-lakes/

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Thanks, Erin