“I have been a lot of places, and this place is good.” That was my favorite quote of the night from hubby about our second trip to Joseph Decuis (pronounced “day-QUEEZ” for those of you who are like me and have always wondered if you were pronouncing it right. They finally put it on one of their brochures). This comment was made shortly into our appetizer course during the dinner I was lucky enough to convince hubby to take me on to celebrate Mother’s Day. I was excited to get to try it again in the springtime.
We started with the pan sautéed morel mushrooms (um, duh)($18) and the Strauss Farms sweetbreads ($14) for our appetizers. The morels were extremely crispy and freshly sautéed with just a hint of a crust on them, and were amazing. They were uniformly cooked in exactly the right way. There were no mushy bits and the coating was super light and even. There was a tiny pool of veal glace (or veal stock reduction) at the bottom of the bowl—just the right amount to give a hint of another flavor without detracting from the mushrooms themselves. The dish was then finished with a little sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Seriously, these were close to perfect. Tender, but crisp, not a sandy bite in the bunch. We were seated fairly near the kitchen and I could hear the staff calling out orders occasionally, and I think someone at just about every table had at least one order of these, and I saw someone get a double portion as an entrée. My picture didn’t come out, and for that I apologize. I would have loved for you to have seen them.
The sweetbreads were also amazing. Sweetbreads are thymus glands (or sometimes pancreas) and these were from veal (I do not have qualms about ordering veal here by the way, as Joseph Decuis was recognized recently as a certified humane restaurant). The sweetbreads were lightly pan fried as well—they were extremely moist inside and nicely seasoned and crisp on the outside. The dish included several potato-chive gnocchi, hazelnuts, Brussels Sprouts leaves in a brown butter sauce. When you could get a bite on your fork with a bit of each of these things at the same time, it was amazing. It was hard to get the pieces of the hazelnuts on your fork (especially for me since this dish was in front of hubby), but when you did, the crunch and nuttiness went so well with the other flavors. I was a little surprised by the fact that there weren’t as many spring ingredients in this dish, or many of the others, but after eating it, I didn’t care.
We also shared their frissée “Caesar” salad ($10), which was the only thing we repeated from our last trip because hubby insisted. I have to say, this is a damn fine salad. And while I like Caesars, I don’t often order them. This one was unique because it was frissée and had some red onion as well as Gunthop Farm pork belly croutons and Brioche croutons. I loved that they were both cut about the same size, and sometimes you got a bite with the crispy warm buttery pork, and sometimes you got the brioche croutons which were so light, they literally melted in your mouth. I could easily eat a pile of them. The dressing had the right creamy, yet tangy flavor and the right amount of it on the leaves. This is a salad that I think stays on the menu throughout the year, and for good reason. I also appreciated that they split it onto two plates for us.
For our dinner we shared an entrée that was a special, the Wagyu ribeye, and an order of the lobster mac and cheese ($15) which was from the appetizer portion of the menu. Again, much like the first time we ate here, we weren’t as impressed with the beef as we thought we would be, although it was still good. And again, I appreciated that they split the dish onto two plates for us. Honestly, we each got 2 slices of the medium rare ribeye, and this was more than enough. It was served on creamy pureed potatoes (not a lump in there I can assure you) and with a mixture of beans and veggies—it was sort of a New Orleans kind of flavor with several kind of beans, peppers, and corn. Again, it was good, but next time for sure, we are going to try something other than the beef (unless it is raw in which case I can tell you, I will almost certainly order it). Wagyu is fattier than regular beef, and I think benefits from being raw.
The lobster mac and cheese was something I was intrigued by (I think it is a regular menu item as well). It was also tasty, but the housemade orcchiette was a little too al dente for me. It also had leeks mixed in and was made with mascarpone cheese. The lobster was perfectly tender and not chewy at all and had several nice chunks mixed in as well as a full shelled claw on top.
We ended with a couple of scoops of Palazzolo’s gelatos for dessert ($7)—we had a dark chocolate as well as a banana caramel praline flavor. They were good and there were nice large pieces of pecans in the praline flavor and large pieces of dark chocolate in the chocolate flavor, but honestly we were pretty stuffed at this point and limped across the street to our room where we were staying. Oh, and the restaurant runs these apartments as well as a very cute inn down the street (which was full) and when we checked in, they had left us a little cheese plate in the fridge. So, ok, I lied, we just gotten the gelato, because we knew we had a little cheese plate waiting for us back in the room that had been nicely warmed on the counter while we were at dinner. It was certainly just a couple tastes, but was the perfect ending to the meal.
If you stay at one of the Joseph Decuis properties, they also offer breakfast to their guests for an additional fee. It is served at just one seating at 8:00 am, however, so we decided to skip it in favor of a rare occasion to sleep in. But earlier in the day as we perused their emporium, I saw they sell their quiches frozen. Score! We picked up the potato and Gruyere flavor and defrosted it in the fridge overnight and cooked it the next morning at our leisure (with some mimosas of course). That was the benefit of staying in the apartments over the inn (besides being right across the street from the restaurant) -- they have a full kitchen. Once we finally got the quiche cooked through (took a little longer than the package said), it was outstanding. One of the best I have had in a long time.
All in all, I continue to consider Joseph Decuis as an extremely worthy dining destination in Indiana, and look forward to many return trips in the future. If you haven’t been, you should consider a road trip up there for a special occasion.
191 North Main Street
Roanoke, IN 46783