I finally got a chance to check out the new darling of the restaurant scene around here—Blubeard. You certainly have to appreciate all the love that new local places are starting to get in the press these days. I waited the several weeks that I like to wait before going somewhere new and then we met my friend wibia and his girlfriend for dinner. Unfortunately, that means two reviews based on the same dinner, although knowing him, it will be weeks before he writes his post.
I really like the space of Bluebeard, especially the back bar room—the restaurant is much bigger than I thought from looking in from the street. It is very hip—lots of irregularly shaped wood tables—a young staff and a very mixed clientele age-wise. I should point out that I do know one of the chefs at Bluebeard—John Adams—and he did come over and say hi, so we aren’t totally anonymous here. Anyway, we did chat about the menu a bit and got some ideas for things to order.
We started with the bread plate ($7). The restaurant includes an Italian bakery as well (Amelia’s) that makes its own bread (a niche in Indy that needed to be filled). I really liked the spreads that were served alongside the bread. There was anchovy butter, a roasted garlic olive oil, and lardo. My favorite was probably the anchovy butter—it was nice and salty, but not over fishy. The garlic olive oil was good, but fairly simple. The lardo (which is basically cured pork fat) was a favorite of hubby’s but was a little smoky tasting for me—it was pretty strong. I love the fact that they give you all these different things to try though. There were also four types of sliced bread from the bakery. The bread was good, but honestly, the way it was grilled, it had a fairly distinct burnt flavor. It was hard to get any real flavor nuances from the bread because of the grilled parts. We also got a cheese plate (3 cheese choices for $14). They have a nice cheese list and do a good job of serving the cheese at room temperature. We had Piper’s Pyramid (a goat), Fleur de terre (local cow) and the house ricotta. They served it with small rounds of baguette, an apricot spread and a rhubarb spread and several caper berries. The house made ricotta was really nice—really creamy and tangy—great with the fruit. The cheeses were also nice with the bread from the first bread basket too. Oh, we also had a little “snack” of wine poached olives too ($5)—the firmer olives I liked a lot. Some of the mushier ones were a little wine heavy for me and I couldn’t taste the olive as much.
Probably my favorite dish of the night was the Sicilian sashimi ($13) from the small plates section of the menu. It was raw fluke, with bits of chopped red onion, lemon, capers and nice olive oil. I had faith in the sashimi knowing that John Adams had been a sous chef at H2O sushi—and I wasn’t disappointed. The fish was really fresh, and all the accompaniments gave it just the right amount of crunch and acid—I loved the fancy blue salt on top too. I think everyone enjoyed this dish quite a bit. At the same time, we were served the broiled razor clams with parsley, garlic, butter and red pepper flakes ($15). There were two of the large clams and the seasoning was very good—nice and buttery but enough garlic and red pepper that you could taste it. The biggest problem was the clam itself—we keep ordering razor clams thinking we will like them, but I think they are just too inherently chewy for me. It is just a texture thing, and I think this is maybe just how they are, but just not our speed. I would love to see them get some little regular clams and do a dish with these same seasonings—they would be great.
Our next course was a large plate—the pan roasted game hen with pommes Anna, sherried figs, sage butter and almonds ($22) and a side of the spaghetti with parmesan, crème fraiche, and lemon ($9). Both were quite good as well. The Chef had recommended the dish, so we were happy to try it—normally I am not one to really order chicken type dishes at restaurants, but this was nice. It was a dish in which all the ingredients together really enhanced this dish. It was tough to get them all—there were the thinly layered potatoes with lots of butter and a nice crisp crust, the sweet figs, the almonds, as well as some arugula and pickled onions. The hen was sliced with nice crispy skin on the outside. I really liked the pasta too—simple but had a nice amount of lemon flavor, as well as the slight tartness of the crème fraiche—it wasn’t just flat and creamy like pastas often seem to be when they’re just doused with cream and parmesan.
Of course we had to have some dessert too, so we tried the buttermilk bread pudding with ricotta and marinated cherries as well as the chocolate goat cheese cheesecake (Lord, I think it was goat cheese, there had been a lot of wine consumed at this stage). Both were very good as well. We all had our favorites, but I liked the cheesecake the best I think—it was not as thick as most traditional cheesecakes and had a fairly light dose of chocolate. The cheese aspect was a little more sour than usual and I thought it was good that way. This isn’t to say they bread pudding wasn’t good—it was as well. Two little mounds of very moist cake topped with more of the housemade ricotta and with the marinated cherries. I would easily get either again.
I thought the service was pretty good. It wasn’t perfect for sure, but the pacing was pretty good—we were there for a couple of hours, and with that much food, that is pretty much what I would expect. There was certainly room for improvement though—our server knew the menu pretty well food-wise and specialty drink-wise, but when it came to the wine, everything we ordered seemed to throw him a little. He had to look over the menu to see what wine we were talking about, and it isn’t a huge list. And for some reason, while the food pacing was good as I said, the drink service was slower. I also really wish they took reservations. We had already planned to go early and just leave if the wait was too long, but I hate to have to do that. I would much rather go just knowing there was a table waiting for me.
|outside patio-love the trees|
All in all, I see a lot of promise in Bluebeard—it is still new and I think, working out some of the kinks, but I think it is a place that brightens Indy’s food scene for sure. It feels current and modern and I am so glad to see someone FINALLY cooking food with an Italian theme that isn’t just the same pastas drenched in marinara and cheese. It is certainly going into our rotation.
653 Virginia Avenue