Wow. Hubby and I had a sitter and I really wanted a good meal—not somewhere new and experimental, but just something really good. And we found it. We got to Bluebeard right around 6:00 on a Saturday and it was already hopping. We got one o the last two tops in the front room—and there were already people waiting for larger tables.
We were having a hard time deciding because everything looked so good on the menu but we settled on sharing several things. We started with a small asparagus salad ($8) (they come in two sizes). There was chopped asparagus, fingerling potatoes, lettuce, really thin slices of shallot, tomatoes, slivers of basil and shaved Manchego cheese. All of this is perfectly tossed with a Champagne vinaigrette. Every part of this salad worked perfectly together. The zippy vinaigrette with the buttery cheese and creamy potatoes and the crisp fresh asparagus and lettuce and the slight liquorice taste of the basil were a perfect taste of spring (and early summer). We loved this one and licked the plate clean.
The next course (I loved that they coursed the dishes out even though we ordered everything at once) was one of the small plates—the chicken liver two ways ($12). Wow, was this fantastic as well. I love that they used the chicken liver pate as a thin spread on the toasted bread but then added the chunks of chopped chicken liver on top—it gave it more texture and meatiness than just pate alone. And the livers were cooked in saba-which is a vinegar similar in color and flavor to balsamic. Perfect amount of acid for the buttery liver. That was all topped with some Parmesan and microgreens and a sauce with a touch of lemon I think. We both ohhed and ahhed over this one as well. Again, another clean plate. And honestly, although we both thought we wanted more, this was a perfect plate to share—there were two pieces of bread with the toppings and it was so rich, I don’t know that I could have eaten more.
For our main dishes, we shared the tempura-fried soft shell crab (of course) ($18), the skate wing ($26) and a side of the spaghetti ($10). We kept worrying that something was going to let us down, but nothing did. The super meaty soft shell crab was fried in a puffy tempura batter and served with Asian-flavored sides. I loved the nori (seaweed) flavored aioli served alongside the crab—it was great to dip the pieces into adding the tangy flavor I like. The marinated carrot and cucumber salad was also fresh and light, with a nice lightly pickled flavor. There was some wasabi tobiko as well if you wanted to add just a touch of heat.
The skate wing was also cooked perfectly (it's served as a large plate on the menu), was a very generous portion for sharing. It was just lightly floured and fried and served atop a serving of sautéed greens. There was pieces of grilled scallions and tomatoes in there too and some big hunks of bacon. The dish was served with the perfect lemon butter sauce that had just enough acid. The chunks of bacon added a salty rich component as well. The skate was so tender it pretty much melted in your mouth.
The spaghetti is one of our standard sides. Most of the Bluebeard plates don’t include much, if any, starch on the plate, so we always feel justified in ordering it as a side. It’s fairly simple—done with crème fraiche and gremolata (an herb/lemon zest blend) giving it again, the perfect marrying of rich and tangy. Honestly, I know I have said this throughout this post, but this balance that I love so much is one of the things that makes Bluebeard’s food so refined. They know how to pull off this balance perfectly. This is the one thing that differentiates good restaurants from great ones. Bluebeard is one of Indy’s great ones.
Even though we had eaten a lot already, we were lured in by the browned butter chocolate chip cookies ($6)(and some dessert wine). The cookies were also really good with lots of dark chocolate chips mixed into a batter that definitely had a bit more nutty flavor from the brown butter. Loved the sprinkle of sea salt as well. They were served with a side of espresso cream which to be honest was a little strong for me and kind of detracted from the cookie flavor. We left a lot of it.
I’ve said it before, but we’re very lucky to have a restaurant like Bluebeard in Indy. They are doing great, creative food and I am glad to see Indy continue to embrace it. Our service was spot on all night and paced exactly right. There is no pretension from the staff either (which I hate to say is often a problem around town). This is a restaurant that deserves to be packed, and every time I go, I am happy to see that it is.
653 Virginia Avenue