It has been a little while since we’ve been to R Bistro. We keep an eye on the menu in general and when some friends invited us to join them, we went. Overall, I really like R Bistro—it is one of the standard good restaurants in Indy. The menu changes weekly, and there are some ups and downs with that kind of constant change, but largely it is fairly consistent in its quality.
I liked the sound of the pork belly taco ($9) with red cabbage slaw and ordered that for my starter as did someone else at my table. Unfortunately, after ordering it, our server came out and informed us they had only one left and were switching it to rabbit. I took the bullet and got the rabbit. In general I like rabbit fine, but honestly, in a taco, I can’t say it is preferable. The taco was exactly the same set up—the meat in the soft shell with some lightly pickled carrots and cucumbers (a sort of giardiniera) with a nice crunchy fresh red cabbage and ripe mango slaw on the side. But the meat itself, while fairly tender, didn’t have a lot of flavor. I probably just should have switched to something else. I had a bite of my friend’s pork belly and it was much tastier. I am sure it came together more as a dish with that pork in it than the rabbit.
For my main dish though, wow, I had the most amazing thing. It was actually a starter as well, but I ordered it for my entrée. It was ricotta gnocchi with roasted oyster mushrooms and wild ramp pesto ($9.95). It was so, so good. It was one of those dishes that was so good that I HAD to share it with my friends just so they could taste it, even though I really, really didn’t want to if you know what I mean. (Luckily I didn’t have to share with hubby because he had ordered it as an appetizer). The gnocchi was so tender, and lightly seared and then the mushrooms—well, it said they were roasted, but it must have been in some sort of animal fat because man, they were so freaking good. Slightly crispy and delicious. And the pesto had some serious flavor—enough garlic the dish almost had a slight heat to it, if you know what I mean. I loved it. I seriously considered ordering another plateful for dessert.
Hubby had the roasted chicken leg (which was the whole leg—thigh and drumstick) with sausage and creamy polenta in a red wine sauce ($22). I think we were both surprised by how sweet the dish was—there was a fruit sauce on top (currants I think). The chicken was nice and tender but was dominated by the very sweet sauce from the fruit that wasn’t mentioned in the menu description. There wasn’t anything wrong with the dish, other than it wasn’t our taste and he probably would have ordered something else had he known.
There was rhubarb cobbler on the menu ($6.75) which meant it had to be ordered. Three of us ordered it actually. I liked it. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but the rhubarb part of it was very nice—it was still pretty tart, which is how it should be. And when you mixed it with the sweet cobbler part (ok, I would say it was more like a shortcake or something) and some ice cream, you got the sweetness you needed and it was tasty.
One of the biggest disappointments on this night for me was the service (again) (I know, I’m like a broken record). But it really kind of bummed me out, because R Bistro, for me, has always been a restaurant with impeccable service. But again, we were a party of 6, with an auto 19% gratuity, and well, I won’t bore you with my feelings on the topic again, but let’s just say I am seriously considering not going out with more than 5 people ever again. We didn’t have drinks for at least 15-20 minutes and some friends of ours who came in after us (a party of 2) were in and out in significantly less time. Ok, enough said.
I like R Bistro and Indy is lucky to have a consistently good restaurant like this. I love the ever-changing menu, and that so much is seasonal and local. I am going to go with the fact that this service experience was a fluke (although this is the first time I have been with more than 4 people). I love that the place was still full even after being open for so many years. It’s a place I would certainly never write off. Damn, especially after that gnocchi.
888 Massachusetts Ave