Hubby and I finally got out to Beholder the other night. I have been hearing a lot of things about it from several friends and we were anxious to go. I didn’t really have it in my head exactly where it was, but it’s on the near eastside, not far from Irvington. It’s an old garage I think, that has been renovated. It still has a sort of industrial feel, but it’s very modern inside. Plain grey walls with only some flower arrangements as décor. It would be a great space to highlight some local artists. Just my two cents.
Ok, so we had heard the portions were small, so we went full in with our order. Between the two of us, we started with three smaller plates and ordered two of the larger plates. I loved the way they sort of just paced them all out one at a time to make for a leisurely meal that didn’t feel like they were just trying to turn over the table. The first course we had was a special that evening—the heirloom tomato salad ($13). It was delicious. Local tomatoes, feta cheese, pistachios, some mixed greens and a wonderful vinaigrette with oregano oil. Seriously, everything together here was so good. Just the right balance between the slightly salty, creaminess of the cheese and the acid of the tomatoes. I appreciated the greens that were more of an accent than a major part of the dish. The next dish that came out was the eggplant tartare ($11). I had been told by several people how good this dish was, and they weren’t lying. It is more of a dip than a tartare—a creamy eggplant dip with Middle Eastern seasonings. They serve it with this delicious fry bread that you could happily eat on its own, it has so much flavor itself. It’s rich and buttery tasting with a little kick of salt. Not crunchy, but not super soft either. You could really taste the cumin throughout this dish. Really good. I could see this being one of their classic dishes. I hope it is. Our final small plate was the Kampachi sashimi ($19). This was the one I was most excited about to order, and to be honest, was my least favorite. Although it was still very good. Just the intensity of the flavors of the other dishes were better. The dish had a little mound of sticky rice on the bottom, which was soaked in brown butter. How could you really go wrong with brown butter? It gave the dish not only richness, but a nuttiness as well. The fish was thinly sliced and then topped with local tart cherry garnish. A really interesting flavor combination as well.
The next two dishes they brought together (it was a nice touch that the chef seemed to be delivering most of the entrées personally). We had the skate wing (which is the wing of a ray), which was served with potato skin aioli and a green curry sauce ($23). I love skate. Many restaurants offered in in San Francisco, and then when we moved to England, it was everywhere—it was like catfish is here—available in every local seafood counter. It’s light and flavorful, and you don’t have to worry about bones. So Beholder’s version was awesome. Very light dusted and floured and perfectly browned. I loved both sauces together with the fish. And I think I can safely say it was the first time I have had potato skin aioli. A cool flavor with a hint of potatoes. They actually gave a fair amount of the skate here—two filets, but if you’re a person who wants a starch with every meal, then you might think it wasn’t filling enough. I thought it was perfect.
We also had the Iberico pork secreto ($43), which was a splurge, but extremely delicious. If you’re familiar with Iberico pork, you know it’s usually served sliced and cured like prosciutto. This was more like a steak that had been cooked and shaved. It had a bit of chewiness from the high fat content, but was so good. Hubby can’t stop talking about it. The meat was so well seasoned, and the dish was served with pickled spring onions, walnuts and some lightly grilled greens. Loved the combination of crunchy textures in this dish, the slight chewiness of the pork and the crunch of the walnuts. It was only five ounces of meat but was rich and tasty. You’re not going to feel overly full maybe just from this dish, but I think you will feel satisfied.
Desserts are a whole other experience here, as they have Pete Schmutte as the pastry chef, formerly from Cerulean. In my opinion, he is maybe one of Indy’s top 2-3 pastry chefs. His desserts are as lovely as they are tasty. Hubby and I shared the gjetost cheese custard with oats and plum ($10). I will tell you, hubby was doubtful when he saw it, but man, was this good. Underneath the crisp cookie-like piece and the super thin sliced fruit, was this mixture of cheesy bits and crunchy oat bits that were kind of like the top of a fruit crumble. Seriously, I know it sounds weird, but it was altogether super delicious. And look how pretty too. Also, Beholder has one of the best dessert wine lists by the glass in Indy. Oh, and they bring you a nice little end of meal plate of sweets that rival many of our best candy makers as well. We had a little disc of dark chocolate and mint, and a berry flavored pate de fruits. Both were outstanding.
Overall, this is the best new thing happening in Indy right now. Some may scoff and say the portions are small, but I say, who cares when the food is this good. You can get a lot of different flavors all in one meal, and I personally can’t wait to go back. And it may be expensive for Indy, but after having just returned from NYC and the prices there, we should appreciate the artistry of this food, its sophistication, and the price point compared to other cities. It might not be an everyday place, but it is worth a splurge. I just hope it can last.
1844 East 10th Street