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.
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.
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).
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).
71 West City Center Drive
Carmel, IN 46032