Hubby has been hassling me about how I never let him go back to places he likes because I am always making him try new places, so we agreed it was about time to go back to Bluebeard. Our last meal (lunch) was really good, and just about every meal I have had there has been an improvement on the last one.
It was Saturday and we went early, but it was already really busy. We got seated right away, but in the front room which doesn’t have the atmosphere of the bar room or the patio. But you can’t really complain when it is the only table available. I appreciated that the restaurant was one of the few that wasn’t completely freezing inside (I had brought a jacket with me and didn’t have to put it on. Why is it only the times I don’t bring a jacket that I find myself dining in the deep freeze?) Our waiter was friendly, although it was tough to hear him in that front room—it is quite a bit louder.
We started off with one of their salads--mainly because we were so impressed with the salad last time. I like that they have a lot of ingredients, great balance and are tossed (hooray!) in an appropriate amount of dressing. We had the small size of the mixed greens salad ($6) with apples, fingerling potatoes and Point Reyes blue cheese. It was dressed in champagne vinaigrette. Honestly, I think Bluebeard is doing some of the best, well-balanced salads in Indy. (As a side note I think Recess/Room 4 does great salads too). The greens were plentiful enough and the apples were super-thinly sliced. The potatoes were cooked just right (not too firm) and there were nice chunks of the cheese mixed throughout.
We then decided to share the Iberico ham plate ($30) which was a splurge but we were intrigued because it isn’t something you see on menus around town that much. It was a nice amount of the ham served with whole grain mustard, “red eye” aioli and cornichons (those cute teeny pickles). There were also some pieces of grilled Amelia’s bread. The ham was great—I mean it sort of speaks for itself with its rich, salty flavor. It was a little thicker cut than what I have had in the past, but tasty. A little bit of the aioli with it was great with it—so what is “red eye” aioli you ask? (as I did). Well it is made with coffee. The slightly bitter taste was nice with the bread and the ham. I thought the mustard was just a little strong. It was a fun splurge, although I am not sure I liked it a ton more than I would have liked Bluebeard’s normal charcuterie. I also like the bread here, but I still don’t really care for the really burnt pieces. That flavor overpowers everything it comes into contact with to me.
For our main dish, we got two of the small plates and the side of spaghetti ($9). We have had the spaghetti before—I love the creamy rich flavor from crème fraiche and the very lemony flavor from, well, lemon. There’s a fair amount of Parmesan cheese as well. It is a great side dish to pair with proteins because even though it is rich, it seems light because of the tangy flavors of the crème fraiche and the lemon. We also had the grilled octopus ($10), which is one of the quintessential Bluebeard dishes I think. They do a great job of grilling it perfectly so it stays tender. I loved the flavors that went along with it too—the roasted tomatoes and olives gave it the right amount of salt and acid and the bagna cauda gave it depth from the anchovies and garlic. You certainly get the taste of the sea without feeling like you’re eating anything too fishy. They do a great job with it—in fact recently a friend had a friend visiting from another state and wanted a good recommendation for somewhere he could eat alone at a bar and get good, unique food. I sent him to Bluebeard and he raved about the octopus.
We also had the foie gras ($15). It was a nice perfectly seared lobe of liver served on top of Bluebeard’s version of green bean casserole. I really enjoyed this dish. It was totally an unexpected combination, but really tasty. The casserole had creamy green beans with chanterelle mushrooms, duck bacon and was topped with crispy thin fried shallot slices. This was seriously my kind of green bean casserole. It was delicious. The only thing that was maybe slightly overkill was the bacon. It was very strong in flavor (bacon flavor and smoky flavor) and you didn’t want to eat it with the liver or it masked the taste too much. If they did the green bean dish on its own as a side, the bacon is perfect. With the foie gras, I think it was unnecessary. But we ate every single bite.
I have had great desserts at Bluebeard and we decided to go with the spicy chocolate pot de crème. To be fair, the menu said it was spicy, but wow. This was way over the line for us to be something we can eat. I often talk about how I like spicy as long as it doesn’t ruin the flavor of the food or the experience of eating it. This was a perfect example of exactly that. A little of the chocolate with some of the cooling cream and the little doughnuts served on the side was pretty good when you had the cream and the sugary sweetness to balance it, but once we finished those parts, we couldn’t eat any more. It wasn’t something we considered complaining about, as we knew it was labeled as spicy (we just didn’t realize how serious they meant this) but I was impressed when our waiter noticed we barely touched the chocolate and got us a certificate for a free dessert for next time (we had already paid at this point or he said he would have taken it off the bill).
That was a nice service touch, and I appreciated how friendly our server was. Unfortunately, the overall service was quite choppy and slow. I am not sure if it was just because they were so busy, but the meal didn’t flow as well as the last couple of times I have been there. Hopefully it was just an off night.
Regardless, I feel like Bluebeard is one of Indy’s best, most interesting restaurants and will continue to recommend it to out of town visitors looking for a place that is unique to Indy.
653 Virginia Avenue