Thursday, March 8, 2012

divvy

Divvy has been on my radar since it opened—the small plates concept is one of my favorite ways to eat.  Anytime I can try several items at a meal, I am happy.  And I took the opportunity to expand my options even further and invited several friends to join us.  We ended up with 8 of us at the meal, which was fun because--well, first these particular friends always make me laugh—but also because we got to try SO many things.  The down side was I tried so many different things actually that I actually ended up overwhelming myself a little with all the constant changes in flavors as we passed around plate after plate.  So I am going to do my best to hit on most of the items.
The first dish that sticks out in my mind as a favorite was the tempura tofu ($9).  It was cubes of tofu that were tempura battered and fried. I really liked the texture contrast between the perfectly crisp outside and the warm, custardy inside.  The pieces of tofu were served with a teriyaki sauce and super thin blood orange glass noodles and sesame seeds. The noodles (which are also served alongside the seared tuna) were good as well and added a very delicate amount of citrus.  Actually, the seared tuna ($12) was pretty much identical in its set up, and the tuna was cooked nicely—basically raw with just a seared edge).
Another favorite of mine, as well as the table, was the corn crème brulee ($5).  I was like an extremely rich corn pudding with some kick from jalapeno.  There were some whole kernels of corn inside and the top was bruleed crunchy and topped with red sea salt.  Honestly, if I hadn’t known better (it is on the vegetarian part of the menu), I would have thought there was bacon in the dish—it had such a deep smoky flavor. It was tasty scooped up on some of the bread that came along with other things.  I was sort of surprised they didn’t serve it with some sort of bread though—if I hadn’t had so much from other things we had ordered, I don’t know that I would have just wanted to scoop it in with a spoon, but maybe that’s just me.
a chicken nacho

Surprisingly (to me anyway), I also really enjoyed the chicken nachos ($7), which I never would have ordered except for our large group (someone else ordered them).  They were made on a base of a crispy, buttery flour tortilla and topped with chicken, crème fraiche, Monterrey Jack cheese and a chipotle pineapple salsa verde.  There was a little smoky flavor from the salsa verde and I really liked the tartness of the crème fraiche. An inventive take on a bar classic.   The fried biscuits ($6) were a nice thing to share as well—and who isn’t going to like what is basically a little doughnut hole of biscuit batter—they weren’t quite as dense as most fried biscuits I have had, but tasty dipped into either the apple butter (a classic combo) or the mango marmalade.  Interestingly, pretty sure it was these same biscuits that showed up later sprinkled with powdered sugar, with chocolate, blackberry and butterscotch sauces and re-named “beignets” (and re-priced at $11).  Still tasty though.

olive tapenade

We also got several dips because they are so easy to share and most all of them were enjoyable, although none of them completely wowed.  My favorite was probably the olive tapenade ($5) which was a flavorful olive dip sitting in a roasted red pepper puree and served with toasted slices of pretzel bread.  I love olives, so it is kind of a given I am probably going to like this.  But several others mentioned liking it as well.  Our least favorite was the baba ganoush ($6).  It was made with the typical eggplant and well as white beans and topped with a balsamic glaze.  One of my friends nicknamed it “cumin ganoush” though because it was so heavy on the seasoning.  Way too much for us.   The crab dip and beer cheese dip were somewhere in the middle of the two—both very good, but not amazing.

carpaccio

The beef carpaccio ($14) wasn’t bad—really heavy on the horseradish mustard on top. It seemed as if there was almost as much mustard as there was meat.  And I didn’t like how some of the edges of the meat had lost their bright red color and gone to the gray place.  But if you portioned out the toppings a bit, it didn’t taste bad.
The frog legs ($12) were only ok—they were sort of done in a variation of a chicken wing. Deep fried with a Thai chili sauce drizzled on top and a side of crème fraiche for dipping. Unfortunately, the fried coating wasn’t very crispy and I thought just the plain crème fraiche was a little uninspired.  Hubby also told me later that his leg was totally undercooked and it kind of freaked him out (mine didn’t suffer that fate).  This is one that would not be a repeat for us.
The seared seasoned scallops ($14) with brandy, melted leeks, and lime wedges were also just ok.  The scallops themselves were bland and not seared at all (nothing crispy going on the edges as far as I could tell).  The flavor of the sauce wasn’t bad, particularly when you squeezed those limes on it to brighten it a bit.  But when the meat of the dish is so blah, I wouldn’t recommend it. We also had the ostrich tartar with crispy capers ($10).  The ostrich was a little too chunky for my taste, and the flavor was kind of bland.  It needed some seasoning in there (maybe some of that mustard from the carpaccio or something). 
We shared several desserts and they were all good.  I mentioned the beignets, which were good, but I wouldn’t get them AND the fried biscuits since they are basically the same.  They also do a bunch of mini desserts which are all $3-4.  Apparently, the highlight was the chocolate mousse with peanut butter and caramel sauce and red sea salt on top.  I wouldn’t know, because it was gone by the time it got to me (they are pretty small). The key lime pie was also good.  I’m a sucker for s’mores desserts, although there was too much of the graham cracker crumbs on this which made it too dry overall. 
The biggest problematic issue we had overall was the service was pretty off (one friend was so pissed off, I doubt he will return).  The service was generally slow and they were sort of weird about letting us order what we wanted when we wanted (they only let half of us pick something in our initial order and by the time our order was taken, we were getting pretty hungry).  I am not sure if they were worried about overwhelming the kitchen or something, but I would think at a tapas place (that was quite crowded on a Sunday night by the way) that they could handle an influx of a lot of orders at once. Luckily we were drinking a fair amount of wine and having a good time so we looked past it, but there were definitely some kinks here.  The interior is stylish and modern—much of it covered in different colors of wood.  It gets pretty loud when it is crowded (which it was) but you certainly feel like you are in a lively restaurant. (Also, it is 21 and over, so don’t bring the kids).
"beignets"

Overall, I look forward to trying Divvy again—and this time with a smaller group (maybe just hubby).  It was kind of crazy with all the things being passed around especially when you’re trying to focus on the foods based on only a couple of bites.  I am also interested to see if the service is better with a smaller group.  Food-wise, I would say there were more hits than misses, and the menu is huge, so there are still plenty more things to try (and I would keep a couple of the things I really liked this time).




divvy
71 West City Center Drive
Carmel, IN 46032
317/706-0000

Divvy on Urbanspoon

8 comments:

  1. I'm in love with the corn creme brulee - even made it at home. Sad to hear you missed the chocolate mousse, because it is definitely one of the best desserts. I've only been once, but still plan on going back multiple times as it is in my neighborhood.

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  2. I emailed them after our dinner to make them aware of our experience. I received a half hearted, weird phone message as a respose with a promise that they would follow up. They never did.

    You're right, I will NOT be going back!

    Rob

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  3. This was our experience as well (Like Rob). I doubt we will go back. Especially after the owner visited our table and couldn't take criticism AT ALL....and there were alot of issues with the food....

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  4. not sure any manager takes criticism well when they are working hard. too many people out there don't work in restaurants or forget their off nights when posts like these appear. something to think about...

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  5. Anonymous, I appreciate that people can have off nights. And yes, I in fact have worked in two restaurants, and yes, I know how stressful it can be. Doesn't mean that a bad service experience isn't going to influence someone's return visit. As I said, I will certainly go again...obviously others feel differently. I also think the way a restaurant handles an annoyed customer shows a lot about how that restaurant feels about their customers overall.

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  6. So, a manager gets a pass on resolving a customer issue because they're busy and trying really hard? Excellence in the restaurant business is about consistency -- of food and service. If you have an off night, you resolve it with the customer at that time -- in hopes of preserving their business. You don't ask them for a pass due to something under your control.

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  7. I have worked in the food and beverage industry in some form or another for over 10 years. I have held pretty much every position available in a setting, except for salaried manager and grill cook. ( I spent a little time working BOH years ago. Not for me. Id rather deal with a irate guest than and irate line cook any day). I will never disagree with a resto employee that says everyone should spend time in the industry at some point, but not so we can receive empathy from the general public but because I think there are valuable skills to be learned from working a weekend crush. That being said, I think resto employees and managers (esp those who have been in the industry a long time) need to put theirselves in the diners shoes more often, not the other way around. We forget what its like to be a diner. And honestly its hard to think like one, remove our experience from our view of circumstances. Its something that employees have to do in order to consistently provide good service.

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  8. I finally made it to Divvy for my birthday; we really loved it and will go back! I will say this: the hostess that greeted us seemed less than enthused to be there and that was clear not only from her attitude, but also from the way she was dressed. But we had the best waitress I think we've ever had in the Indianapolis area. Her name was Jan and I would ask for her if you go back in the future.

    We took some of your suggestions; here's what we had:

    Whipped Feta
    I really wanted the Pimento Cheese, but hubby wanted to try this, so I compromised. I loved the bread and the feta was great. A solid choice, but nothing extremely different about this spread.

    Olive Tapenade
    This was great, but I do love olives! I didn't really enjoy the pretzel crostinis. They seemed stale, and I am not sure if that's because they are pretzels and are supposed to have a different consistency or what. Enjoyed the grilled rustic bread that came with the whipped feta much more.

    Goat Cheese Cakes
    These were recommended by our server and were great, not too greasy. We love goat cheese, so it was already a winner when we read the menu.

    The corn creme brulee.
    You are right, this was very very good and I don't really like corn or cream-based dishes. We were impressed with the layers of flavors.

    Tempura Tofu
    We really enjoyed this dish. The tofu had a thin crispy shell on the outside and was like butter on the inside. My only problem with this dish is there was too much teriyaki glaze. The tofu was soaked and the boat in which it was served was filled in the bottom, which was unnecessary (and maybe a mistake?)

    Andouille Sausage
    Hubby got this dish and said he could barely taste the maple and it was just OK. This dish does give you a lot of bang for your buck, as there were lots of large pieces of sausage. He said he should have just stuck with the tempura tofu, though.

    Chocolate Mousse
    We ordered this based on the suggestions here. It was really good; I cannot resist peanut butter and chocolate. Throw a little salt in? Golden.

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Thanks, Erin