Monday, February 29, 2016

The Libertine - Revisit

After being told by my twitter friend @cisko about how much he enjoyed the Devour Downtown menu at The Libertine, hubby and I decided to give it a try. We had not been to the new location of The Libertine under the Mass Ave Pizzology, so it was a good time to get back in there to check it out.  The basement bar is pretty cool—love the bar itself. The rest of the place is fairly small, but decently cozy. A very different feel from the sort of modern feel of the previous incarnation. 

We got the Devour menu to split and then added a few items to it as well, because the menu said the devour items were sized to be a tasting for more than one person—and I would agree with that. It was $35 for the 5 courses. I’ll go through all of those first, so you can see what you get for your money.

The first course was lamb pate with port, sage and sorghum. I generally enjoy pate and this was a pretty good one—the lamb part was pretty mild. Hubby wasn’t a fan of the port/sorghum aspect of it, but I didn’t mind it. They bread they served with it was on point. Perfectly toasted and delicious. I’m guessing Amelia’s. I also really enjoyed the lightly dressed parsley salad served alongside. The dish would have been nowhere as good without it—it added a great acidic kick.
Pierogis and Carrots

The next course was a warmed carrot salad with cilantro, yogurt, and shaved foie gras. I was most leery of this course when we ordered because carrots rarely wow me. But this turned out to be one of my favorite things of the evening. The carrots were so nicely caramelized, which just brought out their sweetness. Combined with the tangy yogurt and the little bit of richness from the little bit of foie gras, this dish was a winner. They should add this to the regular menu.

Next was a crudo of Hamachi with ponzu , watermelon radish, chilies and togarashi. This was a very small, but nice dish. It was a nice change up with the other richer things. The fish was very fresh and tender and was good with the little creamy sauce. It was a good refreshing bite.

The sort of “main” dish of the devour menu was a piece of wagyu short rib with bacon, polenta and tomato sauce. This was by far our least favorite. The piece of short rib was decent, but the pork belly on the plate was really fatty and gelatinous. I feel more and more like pork belly is going this way and I don’t care for it. I don’t know if more fat is being left on and not cooked as long, but it just doesn’t taste good to me. 

Luckily though, the dishes we ordered from the regular menu were pretty much all winners.  The fried chicken livers atop a cornmeal waffle with bbq mushrooms and sorghum were stupendous ($12). Although the menu should really say chicken “liver” because there was only one, and the waffle part was about a quarter of a full sized waffle. You really need one of these to yourself. The crispy chicken liver with the savory waffle and the sweetness from the sorghum was just perfect. I hope this stays around for a while, I want to go get one to myself.

Also a favorite were the braised kale, slab bacon and potato pierogis ($10). These little soft dumpling-ish pierogis melted in your mouth. And the kale cut some of the richness. It came across like greens, but not as strong as collards or mustard greens. This was a dish that hubby and I had to split exactly evenly because we both wanted our fair share.

Finally, as far as savory courses, we had the Indiana oxtail and Vermillion blue grilled cheese ($9). Loved that this was made with blue cheese and was served on grilled Amelia’s city loaf. I also really liked the pickled red onions to add that touch of acid I need. This one wasn’t maybe as refined or interesting as some of the other things we ate, and in spite of the fact that the bread on the bottom of the sandwich was pretty seriously burnt, it was still enjoyable. I liked the addition of some dressed greens on the plate to add even a little more acidic punch.

Lastly, and the last course of the Devour menu, was blood orange panna cotta with caramel, and hazelnut tuille. I love blood orange and this was a nice, not too filling, dessert.  The tangy citrus was nice with the rich caramel and I appreciated the textural component from the tuille. A nice way to finish the meal.

Overall, I was quite pleased with our dinner. The things I didn’t care for were not things I would have likely ordered had it not been for the Devour menu, but I was also glad that I got to try the carrot dish, which was also something I probably would not have ordered either. They are doing some interesting things at The Libertine, and I am glad to see it. Service-wise, our server was very nice and in the beginning of the meal right on top of things. As things got busy, service got slower and one thing we had ordered (after they were out of something else) never got delivered, but we didn’t get charged for it either. And we had more than enough to eat. Although, I do recommend sharing several plates as many of them were on the somewhat small size (which I like, but just so you know). Cocktails were good as well.

The Libertine
608 Massachusetts Avenue
Indy 46204

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