HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >


Where to try next in Indianapolis?

I visit central Indiana several times a year. I've been enjoying trying the finer dining restaurants in and around Indianapolis - all the more so as the finer dining scene has improved dramatically over the years. (I remember years ago, struggling to find any other place to go other than returning to the Glass Chimney!) Although I occasionally return to my favorites, I like to try new places, i.e. places I've never been before. Thus this inquiry, about where I should try during my visit next month. I will probably get to have 2-3 dinners in Indy.

So far I've LOVED Oakley's Bistro (my favorite so far), and I've also really liked and enjoyed R Bistro, Elements, the Oceanaire (several times), and 14 West. (L'Explorateur too, RIP.)

I'm considering several other places for my upcoming visit:

Peterson's ( www.petersonsrestaurant.com ) - I will most likely go here. I'm not all that big on steaks; I'm no vegetarian, I just generally like other foods better, particularly seafood. The seafood preparations and especially the appetizers on their website menu sound spectacular!

There are two other places I'm considering. I haven't seen any recent comments here about either place, so I'd welcome any opinions on them:

Z’s Oyster Bar and Steakhouse ( www.zsoyster.com )
Scholars Inn / SI Lounge ( www.scholarsinn.com ) (Indy location)

In case you're wondering why I chose these, rather than some other places (e.g. Meridian), it was after looking at their website menus, and noticing specific dishes that sound enticing (sweetbreads at Z's, short ribs at SI). But all opinions are welcome; if you think I would be better off choosing some other place I haven't mentioned, please recommend it!

I'd also be interested in hearing about recent visits to 14 West ( www.14westindy.com ). It's been a couple years now since I went there, before they brought in Layton Roberts as executive chef, so I'm not sure whether my previously high opinion of it is still valid.

And yes, at some point I'd like to return to Tallent and try it again, maybe later this year, but I'd like to concentrate on trying some of these other places first.

Thanks in advance for any comments!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You should definitely check out Euphoria in the Bugg's Temple building. The chef is formerly of Union Square Cafe in nyc, and the food is as good as Oakley's or L'Ex. Start off with the calamari or the mussels, both are stunning.

    9 Replies
    1. re: gram748

      I see they have quite an interesting menu ( www.indycanal.com ), with global influences (e.g. a Thai soup followed by ceviche!). Thanks for the recommendation!

      Also, any opinions about Palomino ( www.palomino.com/menu.php?cook=1&... )?

      1. re: nsxtasy

        No one has an opinion about Z's Oyster Bar, Scholars Inn (SI Lounge), 14 West, or Palomino?

        Hey, where's Cookiefiend? ;)

        1. re: nsxtasy

          We are meeting up with my brother and sister-in-law (from Chicago) at Palomino tonight. We had dinner with them there a couple of years ago, and they've been raving about it ever since. They eat out a lot in Chicago, but they were still impressed. I had the best lamb shank I've ever eaten here.

          It's a chain, but so is Oceanaire, and I think they both do what they do extremely well. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

          1. re: pikawicca

            To follow up, dinner was very good. Lamb shanks were on the menu, as was a cassoulet, but I simply wasn't that hungry. Had the wood-roasted mushrooms to start (delicious), followed by the clam pizza. I hadn't tried their pizza before. It was very good, but not in the same league as Jeff Finch's or Daniel Orr's here in Bloomington. My brother and sister-in-law both enjoyed their roasted chicken. The only bad dish was the crab cakes -- skip this one, as it's little shreds of crab with lots of filler.

            1. re: pikawicca

              Thanks for the report - very helpful. Based on the website menu, I was trying to decide between the crab cakes and the braised boneless beef short rib, so now I know to lean towards the latter!

              It looks like Peterson's is a no-go for this trip, unfortunately. Z's is now part of the plan, with the possibility of another meal or two elsewhere TBD.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                You're welcome. Generally, I'd say that meat is their strongest suit. Oh, but make sure to have the mushroom soup!

          2. re: nsxtasy

            Hey nsxtasy!

            I've only been to Z's Oyster Bar once - with some friends who were huge fans of the original in Louisville - and unfortunately, we were all disappointed. I didn't even write a note about it. It was only a couple of months after they opened so maybe they've settled down...

            I haven't been to SI since it re-opened after it's cosmetic remodel. We felt it was a good place for cocktails and appetizers but not so much for dinner. If I were going to be in that area, I'd stick with R Bistro or Elements.

            Unfortunately I haven't been to 14 West in quite awhile and so can't comment. In that area of downtown, I like Oceanaire (as you do) and I also like Palomino. Yes, they're both chains, but they do a good job - nice appetizers too. Palomino has a more casual feel, which isn't a bad thing.

            We do have reservations at Euphoria next week end - I'll report back on that. I have high hopes after hearing good comments from the Burgundy Society's dinner.

            Sorry for the delay!

            1. re: Cookiefiend

              Thanks for the feedback!

              Someone correct me if I'm wrong about this. From reading various websites, it appears that there used to be a restaurant at Buggs Temple, called Tavern at the Temple, but that restaurant closed at the end of September. They somehow kept the chef involved (the one who was with Danny Meyer, as gram indicated above) while they developed and then opened Euphoria, also in the temple (but possibly in a different space, upstairs?). It sounds like Euphoria not only may be in a different space, but it's not described as a simple name change, so I'm guessing it's a different menu etc? But with the same chef as Tavern at the Temple? I never went to the Tavern at the Temple, but I noticed it described in last year's Indy Monthly "best restaurants" article. (I'm just wondering to what extent I should consider their description still relevant to Euphoria.)

              1. re: nsxtasy

                I just read that they finally got new signage - downstairs is Creation Cafe and upstairs is Euphoria.
                The chef is Brad Gates...

                There's a local blog, FeedmeDrinkme, with the menu from the Burgundy Society's dinner, she wrote:

                "A creamy foie gras and fig terrine, a light crab/fennel/endive starter, beautiful Bearnaise with a parchment steamed turbot, a luscious oxtail risotto, and my favorite sweeetbreads -- and then came the cheeses and desserts. "

                Sounds pretty fabulous!

      2. We like Dunaway's. The food is great and the rooms are really cool. We had a terrible experience at Scholar's Inn but it was just one of those nights. Went to Palomino years ago. Don't think it was anything spectacular, but not bad. www.dunaways.com This is my first post on Chowhound. Very exciting!

        1. If you just want a great cheeseburger and a beer, Workingman's Friend at 234 N. Belmont is a friendly dive. It's always written up in the alternative weeklies.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Henry Carroll

            Jesus. Workingman's is just steak and shake with more authentic decor. To top it off, it's in a neighborhood you don't want to be in after dark.

            1. re: Chalkie

              I've had several great cheeseburgers and beers at workingman's friend. Go before sundown if you're afraid of the dark.

          2. Thanks again to all for the advice. I've posted a report about my three dinners in Indy, at Z's Oyster Bar, Palomino, and the Oceanaire, in the topic at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/348586

            1. I have never been able to manage a quorum to visit Z's, I am curious as well. I do think SI or Scholors Inn is very pretty, but very average on food. Never had anything to enjoy there. R Bistro is the place to go in that area. 14 West was very pompous steakhouse wannabe. I did not enjoy it at all. Food was large portioned, and minimal flavored. Oceanaire is always good, and Palomino is as well, I like it for lunch. The Buggs Temple area is one to watch. I have not tried the first attempts, but I hope Euphoria has a chance. Side note, for the north east side on 82nd street between Dean and Allisonville the Taiwan Tearoom is great. They have buba tea, and a dozen apps that are well crafted with first class ingredients. Let's keep this one going.

              3 Replies
              1. re: edelase

                I'm new to the board, but actively interested in the Indy dining scene. We dined at Euphoria only once and were very disappointed. English pea soup that was gritty! A lovely skate wing paired w/ pasta marinara -- what was he thinking! Scholors Inn is fine for cocktails and appetizers - skip dinner. R Bistro continues to be strong and is locally owned. Oceanaire good food, large portions. Only been to Z's once with a group of ladies and most left disappointed. Will try again w/ husband and may have a different opinion. Terrible disappoint that Elements closed - keep hoping for a miracle to happen on that site.

                1. re: winesnobs

                  Hello winesnobs!

                  This sound familar?

                  "The pea soup was not very much of a pea soup. I was thinking 'Spring menu, fresh peas - a bright, light and fresh tasting soup - yum!', and boy was I wrong. The soup was grainy and a pale green color with almost no pea flavor, but the real problem was the 'salmon pastrami' that was layered over the entire bowl of soup. The salmon did not go well with the soup, it was hard to eat (large strips of cured fish draped over a liquid) and frankly - it didn't taste good. Maybe if the salmon had been chopped and added as a small garnish it would have worked. "

                  I think your pea soup is the same pea soup I had... ;-)
                  I'll have to give them another chance!

                  1. re: Cookiefiend

                    I think in Indy the main issue seems to be LOCATION with certain places. Euphoria has a talented chef in an unbelievable space, yet the restaurant may suffer from inconsistency because of the location: a bit of a destination that many people won't be willing to head to during certain hours--mainly evening. The space is beautiful and it just needs downtown to grow up with residential density, especially around the canal. At the right time, however, this is a place where you may find the best deal. The bartender serves up some (from what i've had) of the best cocktails in town. Siam Square in Fountain Square is fairly new and has very decent and consistent, fresh Thai. Although it's in an isolated and industrial setting, I will say WORKINGMAN's FRIEND has the best cheeseburger and onion rings in INDY! I think the setting and short drive from downtown add to the experience, personally. But some people are just looking for THEMED AMBIENCE over FOOD QUALITY...so be it. Still enjoy Goose the Market and had some really good frites and mussels at Brugge---try the mussels with their sig. black beer, bacon, walnuts and cheddar. Chatham Tap for Fish & Chips and Ale!

              2. May I ask what entices you about SI?? Does their cocktail menu look less pretentious than their 'food'? Never been but just from what I've heard from others in the past.......there is a reason they write WATERMELLON CROUTONS on the menu. What's that all about? Do you read this menu to be one that focuses on food? I read it to be ALL OVER THE PLACE and can't really decide what it wants to be. I agree with Cookiefriend: "Just go for the marked down drinks." It doesn't take a great chef to make crappy product sound good on a menu...and then hoping it's edible enough to eat or have somebody pay over 20 for an entree. It takes a great chef to keep things simple with great ingredients. What's up with these over-the-top menus: they're too big. Do you think Indianapolis restaurants have Thomas Keller staffs back there cooking the food?!? Z's Oyste Bar is in Castleton: ENOUGH SAID. Proves Indy has a long way before the public is educated enough to be critical about food quality.

                17 Replies
                1. re: napolean

                  Hmmmm. No replies. I must be writing to a bunch of SI followers...or restaurant owners in general. Interesting.

                  1. re: napolean

                    Nah, I think everyone basically universally agrees that SI's food and concept is weak (both in Bloomington and in Indy). In both places there are many other options for better food at a better price point.

                    It is possible to do great food in Indianapolis, and even somewhat modern food, but SI has never really achieved this. Frankly I doubt they're long for this world. Just my take on things.

                    1. re: napolean

                      napolean - I thought you were writing to nsxtasy... so I didn't respond. Plus I had already said that I'd only go to SI for appetizers and drinks - I'd try a drink with a watermelon crouton ;-)

                      I am curious about this though:

                      "Z's Oyste Bar is in Castleton: ENOUGH SAID"

                      I haven't been back since the first debacle, even our friends who were huge fans of the original in Louisville haven't been back. But I did think that perhaps they needed to work out any "just getting started here" blues, and that I may give them another chance - one bad experience isn't enough to turn me totally away (usually - there are exceptions) and nstasy enjoyed it - I respect her opinion. Z's is, however in an awful location. Nothing has succeeded there.

                      chetakinsdiet - I think you're correct - even with the remodel they may not last long. It is possible to do great food in Indianapolis...
                      I miss L'Explorateur.

                      1. re: Cookiefiend

                        A watermelon crouton is a cube of watermelon, perhaps heated, but I doubt it. Take a close look at SI's drink list, but in Indianapolis and in Bloomington- it's clearly just written up by the distributors to sell high margin product.

                        That said, for all my criticisms about SI, and I've got plenty, I wish they'd focus on what they do really well- the Bakehouse. Really solid bread, which is saying a lot.

                        1. re: chetatkinsdiet


                          I hope the watermelon crouton in my imaginary drink isn't heated... that was a bit of a joke that evidently didn't fly - my apologies!

                          Again though - the bread at The Bakehouse is great - you are correct!

                          1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                            I disagree about the bread. It used to be the best bread around (damning with faint praise, here), but that was when they baked it at night and sold it the next day. After that, it went on sale at half price. Now they sell days-old bread, dry and flavorless, as do all of the local supermarkets. I'm in Bloomington and the last two sandwiches I've had at the eastside location have been inedible, due to stale bread. And the challah roll that they serve their weird cinnamon-y "barbecue" on was hard as a brick when I had the misfortune to try it. God, Bloomington needs a great artisinal bakery. We could certainly support one.

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              It's no surprise that places like Tallent bake their own bread rather than outsource it.

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                Yah, SI bread is decent when fresh. But I totally agree with pikawicca about what one day does to that bread. Too chewy and bland. The watermelon croutons? It just dumbs down the system as a whole. It's saying, "You are going to pay a lot of money for this generic (ridiculous) creation and I don't care how it tastes." When this area gets an artisinal bakery---which will probably happen in Bloomington before Indy---then that's good sign for the dining scene in Indianapolis. I can't wait when it happens!

                                1. re: napolean

                                  What about Rene's in Broad Ripple?

                                  He makes his bread...

                                  The last time I had bread at The Bakehouse (granted that was in December, the one on College), I had breakfast and I enjoyed it.

                                  1. re: napolean

                                    I'm wondering where it will be, I think Bloomington is probably ripe for a really solid bakery. There are a couple of places that could use a run for their money in Bloomington- bakehouse and big red liquors come to mind.

                                    1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                                      Sahara Mart is giving Big Red a serious run on the wine front. They have lots of interesting choices that BR doesn't carry, including a huge selection of organics.

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        We're getting pretty far off topic, but what the heck I led us there. Sahara Mart has a lot of off vintage wines- good wines, but not really great wines. Big Red really has that market cornered in Bloomington. I've yet to taste an organic wine really worth its salt- the problem is that you can't add sulfites and label the wine organic, even though sulfites are a naturally ocurring substance. You simply can't age wine without sulfites.

                                        1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                                          I'm not sure that the market for "really great wine" is huge in Bloomington. There is some demand, but most of us make do with good, drinkable wines most of the time. That said, I went to a potluck last month where a couple was responsible for bringing a wine to go with my lamb dish. The Margaux they brought was a superb match, and a shockingly generous contribution.

                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                            I think Bloomington certainly has that market, otherwise I don't think you'd see the volume that the reserve room both in a Kroger of all places and in Big Red.

                                            There's certainly a market for really good 30 dollar bottles. There's also a market for a staff who really knows wine and is customer service oriented.

                                            1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                                              Good bread, good wine.......we may as well talk about CHEESE while we're at it! Who has the best cheese selection in Indy and Bloomington? I wish Capriole Farms was featured in more stores (beyond the farmer's markets). That's an up-and-coming market, I believe. I love the variety GOOSE has...and the 'tour' is one of the best deals in the city (maybe THE BEST).

                                              1. re: napolean

                                                Frasier's in Fishers has a very nice selection of cheese.
                                                The Cheese Shop in the Fashion Mall has a decent selection - used to be much better.
                                                Euphoria has a very nice cheese plate/selection.

                                                I hope that's (cheese) a trend that sticks around.

                                                1. re: napolean

                                                  Goose wins it for cheese for sure.

                                                  In Bloomington it's Bloomingfoods, which ain't saying much. In bloomington it's usually a better idea to hit the farmer's markets to get your cheese, though living down here I tend to order my cheese online quite a bit.

                          2. I'll be returning to Indy again this year, and I'm starting to think about where to eat.

                            Right now here are the leading contenders among places I have not yet tried:

                            Peterson’s (Fishers) - www.petersonsrestaurant.com
                            Meridian (Broad Ripple) - www.meridianonmeridian.com
                            Zing (downtown) - www.zingrestaurant.com

                            I'd also like to get back to 14 West and to Oakley's.

                            My thoughts right now are as follows. Peterson's is probably my top pick but Fishers is a bit less convenient for where I'll be coming from, and it may lose out for that reason. Meridian has jumped into my top picks since my original post above, because they have revamped their menu and it sounds very appealing now. I was also enticed by the favorable review of Meridian in the February 9 Dish column of Indianapolis Monthly (which is not yet on the Dish website at www.indianapolismonthly.com/dish/defa... ). Recess, Greg Hardesty's new place, is interesting but they have a set menu and I like to be able to select from a menu.

                            If anyone has any thoughts on these or other places, I'd be happy to hear them.

                            Also, I may be having dinner on Sunday at the end of the weekend. Unfortunately, ALL of the above places are closed on Sundays, with the apparent exception of 14 West, so that day I'll probably hit 14 West or the Oceanaire.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: nsxtasy

                              Let's see? Peterson's, Meridian or Zing.

                              I would take my chances with 1)Recess or 2)R Bistro. Although the offerings at both places may be limiting, the menus are fresh daily (Recess) or weekly (R Bistro).

                              If it is less adventurous, SAFE INDIANAPOLIS FOOD then try the 5 you mentioned. Is there a reason you're not interested in Recess besides the limited menu? I would highly rec this place if you've never been. At least check the menu day of your arrival. It may be worth it. The wine pairing option is a great deal and you won't be wanting to PUKE after dinner, either...like most Indy cuisine leaves you feeling.

                              Siam Square noodle dishes or Northside Social are somewhat surprising newcomers to Indy.

                              GOOD LUCK!!

                              1. re: napolean

                                I like to have choices on a menu, so I can pick the things I like to eat. Right now the menu at Recess gives you NO CHOICES for starters or dessert, and only three choices for entrees. No thanks. I'm glad I got to try Elements before it closed.

                                Based on my experience of actually eating there, 14 West is as adventurous and creative as R Bistro, and Oakley's is the most creative of all, despite your snide remark to the contrary. I've eaten at R Bistro too; it was very good. I liked 14 West just as much, and Oakley's best of all. But I also like to try places I've never been, to judge for myself what they're like. Peterson's and Zing have both been praised here on Chowhound, and I have yet to read any negative reports about Meridian from anyone who has actually eaten there. I look forward to trying all three of them.

                                I've found a nice assortment of excellent restaurants in Indy - not every place, to be sure, but the overall quality is quite good, and I've enjoyed dining there. Since you claim most Indy cuisine makes you feel ill, perhaps you should consider moving to another city where you might find places you would enjoy.

                                1. re: nsxtasy

                                  No, I like the direction Indy is going as far as cuisine. This 'depression' we're in will have less of a hit on Indy than places like Chicago. More importantly, the economy will force restaurants to focus more on VALUE than GLITZ, which has catered to the corporate business crowd more than the average person. The food will in turn be more specialized and flavor focused (not stylized). This more honest food will also be served up in more casual environments. Just less pretentious dining rules won't be applied at many places. That's why I rec. Recess because it's sort of a pioneering concept for Indy. I would just give the menu a peek before you decide.

                                  I understand you want options like I think everybody would. Just some math here: Recess changes it's menu daily for 5 nights per week. R Bistro changes it's menu weekly with 5 times the choices as Recess. These two places would be equal in the ammount of different dishes they CREATE annually. Now, places like Meridian would change there menu seasonally (meaning 4-5 times a year) with a much larger menu, obviously. Zing? I don't know if they change their menu but let's just say they do very little of it.

                                  I'm trying to make a point that larger menus are safe for most people but that doesn't mean that's good for everyone, like myself. It's nice to know that certain places are creative enough to change there menus constantly while the food reflects the seasons. I don't feel safe eating at an establishment with 3-10 page menus because I can't imagine that every possible item would A) be fresh and B) be cooked right given the # of cooks per dish that restaurant offers. I guess I go for a more of a personal approach...not that it's better or worse.

                                  Based on my experience eating at Meridian: take at least 3 other peple with you so you can all share the beet appetizer, which was enough for at least 3 people. Was this a mistake? Not sure but the appetizer was half eaten by the two of us and, although somewhat bland, it was tasty enough but made us rethink our ordering for the rest of the meal. I heard so much about the lamb dish so I got it. It was overcooked and over-seasoned. The smear of sauces were tasty but non-descript. I think they were challenging each other in a component battle on the plate. The vegetable and starch were after thoughts...like most INDY cuisine...not a snide remark just what I observe over 90% of the time eating out here. The butterscotch pudding was flavorful but the dessert lacked balance. The parfait glass was filled with too much pudding and came with just a little cookie. Completely boring unless you shared it with 3 others.

                                  Oakley's has been on my list of places to try again because I think Chef Oakley is one of the top three chefs in Indianapolis. The last time I went there I noticed the same offerings as I had 2 months previous. And, my entree looked good and was well balanced but was luke warm. I mentioned it to a server and seemingly had no problem reheating it until he came back with serious attitude. MAybe it was another table that made our server mad? Or maybe the chefs just touch and play with there food too much? Not sure but the focus wasn't there that given night which happens everywhere so I will go back. We skipped dessert because we were not in the mood for creme brulee and they were out of the only one that interested us.

                                  So Zing has been alright the two times I've been. It's a great place to share a number of appetizers. The meatballs stood out as the only star because you could tell they were homemade in a slightly sweet and spicy sauce which went great with our wine and beer. But at the end, our bill came and it was much higher than we expected. It brought back the days when you receive your bill at St. Elmo's, which still rates as my top rip-off restaurants in Indy. But it's safe so people don't care.

                                  Have not been to 14 West yet but have heard good things so I will go try it some day...when I feel like hanging out with the convention crowd.

                                  So about my snide remark about the puking after you eat is not downing the food so much but the portion sizes that you get at most places.

                              2. re: nsxtasy

                                Have you considered Zest near Broad Ripple or Santorini in Fountain Square? I'd pick either of those over Scholar's Inn, which was good but not my favorite in town. I second the recommendation for Siam Square, but not if you only have one meal in town. Of course, don't forget St. Elmo's if you want an Indy classic.

                                1. re: chefpar

                                  Thanks! I'll be in town next month so it's coming up fast. Zest sure has an interesting menu, fun to read too! I'll make sure to post where I went and what I had after my visit.

                                  (I bet at some point I'm going to confuse Zest with Zing...)

                                2. re: nsxtasy

                                  nsxtasy -

                                  We had dinner Saturday at Meridian and it was very good.

                                  I started with fried calimari (a special) - it was fine and came with 3 sauces - a truffled aioli, remoulade, and a fabulous cocktail sauce. I don't ordinarily rhapsodize about a cocktail sauce but this was great - light and full of horseradish. Mr CF had the mussels (said they were okay) and my son had the Oysters Rockefeller (which he loves but thought it could use a bit more bacon)

                                  Next was Smoked corn soup - delicious. One of the sort of things you smell as it goes by to another table and you think "I gotta try that". It's a thick and creamy soup with just a hint of smoky bacon and a tiny relish of red peppers.

                                  Then the best fish I've had in a long time - Haibut with English peas, roasted tomatoes top with herbs - parsley and other with a Parmesan broth. Tender tender fish, wonderful broth. The peas - could have been cooked a bit longer. My son had the New York Strip and he didn't complain and said it was cooked right... but Mr CF and I talked about it later and we would not have been pleased with that steak. It wasn't what we expect in a steak - but hey we weren't in a steak place.

                                  Dessert - for me Donuts with espresso cream - 5 hot little yeast donut with cinnamon sugar, the cream was in an espresso cup and poured on the plate. I can't resist a donut. Mr CF had butterscotch pudding and our son had the carmelized banana tart - all good.

                                  Hope that helps and please let us know where you decide to go!

                                  1. re: Cookiefiend

                                    That's VERY helpful - thank you!

                                    I was leaning towards a return visit to 14 West until last week, when I read in Dish that Layton Roberts left. Since then I've been leaning towards Meridian. I still want to try Peterson's, but on this trip it's not going to be all that convenient. I'll report back after my trip in mid-April. Thanks again!

                                    Incidentally, it appears that Indy's restaurant scene is holding its own! I'll still miss L'Explorateur and Elements, but it seems like there are plenty of recently-opened places to try, too!

                                    1. re: nsxtasy

                                      I'm always looking for a nice place to eat when we visit Indianapolis, and really miss both L'Explorateur and Elements, my two favorites.
                                      Meridian has been on my list for a little while now, but I'm a little worried about the scope of the menu-it seems all over the place. Kind of New York classic, Asian fusion and southern influence.
                                      I'm also interested in the atmosphere-it looks nice from the online photos-is this a good spot for a long chat with someone you haven't seen for awhile? Can you have a conversation without shouting? Thanks for any additional feedback.

                                      1. re: David W

                                        I also miss L'Explorateur - Neal Brown has opened Pizzology in Carmel. Not-to-be-missed pasta and Neapolitan pizza.
                                        Greg Hardesty (formerly of Elements) has opened Recess - a new concept for Indy in that the menu changes to reflect what's fresh and it's a set menu - as in that's what available for dinner that day. Greg has said though that if you have an allergy or an avoidance issue with something on the menu - he'll work around it so you don't go hungry.

                                        Meridian does have a great atmosphere. When crowded it can get a bit noisy, but during the warmer months they have a lovely patio - shaded and overlooking the little park to the north. That would be a wonderful place to catch up with someone you haven't seen in a while.

                                        Meridian is getting ready to change their menu - I've eaten there several times and I guess I don't really feel their menu is all over the place... but it does try to have something for everyone.

                                        1. re: Cookiefiend

                                          Thanks for the reply. I've been looking at Recess as well.
                                          I'm not sure if I'll end up having time to eat in Indianapolis during this summer's trip, as my heart belongs to Tallent and that's usually my first priority if time is an issue. But I like to be prepared in case I find a spare evening.

                                        2. re: David W

                                          >> is this a good spot for a long chat with someone you haven't seen for awhile? Can you have a conversation without shouting?

                                          Yes and yes. I ate at Meridian at prime time (7:30 pm on Saturday), when they were totally full, and it was just fine in that regard. The tables are nicely spaced apart and, although it was busy, it was not overly noisy and there were no concerns at all about having to shout.

                                          1. re: nsxtasy

                                            We ended up having lunch at Meridian and quite enjoyed it. The room is very nice (though I thought the music selection a bit odd-not too high a volume, sort of in the background, but "Smoke on the Water?) And, yes, it's just fine for a long conversation.
                                            I'd also note that it is quite convenient to the Indianapolis Museum of Art - less then ten minutes away. It's great that they serve a real lunch on Saturday instead of the dreaded "brunch" (well, that's my feeling anyway.)
                                            We tried the nice, smokey corn soup and the French onion soup. Both very good.

                                            Then we had the lobster pot pie - very nice, the shrimp and grits-terrific, with just a hint of heat from the tasso, and the gnocchi with mushrooms and tomato-very tasty.
                                            I'd note that the portions seem small when you first see them, but this food is pretty rich/buttery, so you may be grateful after you've eaten.
                                            Since we were eating dinner at Recess later that night, and were hoping to walk around the museum after lunch, we shared one dessert - the spectacular-looking apple pie- made with philo, it makes quite an entrance. It was very good, and we were glad to have only ordered one dessert.
                                            They have a nice if unsuprising wines-by-the-glass list.
                                            The service was great-of course, we found out that our waiter was from Brooklyn, and we shared many connections, so I'm not sure we were a fair test!
                                            The patio looks very inviting, if it's one of the rare days the heat allows. We were glad to be inside when we were there. I'd also note that there is an entrance to the parking lot on Westfield as well as Meridian, in case you drive past it (yes, we did.)

                                        3. re: nsxtasy

                                          We had Kelties in Westfield for Brunch Sunday and were quite impressed. We both cleaned our plates several times and still had to find room for a wonderful dessert spread. I haven't had dinner there yet but they just got a nice review from Indianapolis Monthly. Service was excellent as well, attentive and friendly.

                                    2. nsxtasy -

                                      Went to Recess last night! Here's my post:


                                      1. Just got word from a friend that Scholar's Inn closed.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: cmj

                                          So, Layton Roberts from 14West will be the chef at Mesh on Mass. Should be a huge improvement from SI---the place to get the half priced martinis. That's the only thing people talked about that place...plus the annual interior decorating that went on there. Glad to FINALLY have somebody come in and focus on the food more.

                                        2. This past weekend I had dinners at Zest and at Meridian and both were excellent. I have posted detailed reports in the topic at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/348586

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: erininindy

                                            Thanks - it's VERY helpful! I particularly enjoyed reading about Euphoria under the new chef, and I hope to go back there on my next trip to Indy. It also confirmed some of the reasons I've had for choosing some restaurants over others (such as the comfort food emphasis of the menu at Northside Social).

                                            Oh, and regarding Zest! Try it for dinner; I really was quite impressed. Especially with the short rib and polenta dish I mentioned in my report.

                                            Thanks again!

                                            1. re: napolean

                                              Try Zest. The food is very good indeed!

                                              1. re: nsxtasy

                                                I really don't mind zest for breakfast or lunch but everything seems to be loaded with cheese, cheese, cream and more cheese. And i love cheese, including velveeta but too much is just masking the other ingredients a bit. It's very tasty but not very exciting. I do love the porridge at Zest...probably the biggest perception changing dish on their menu. I just could not image going for dinner.

                                                1. re: napolean

                                                  I hate an over-emphasis on cheese, which I find very common at many chain restaurants (I'm sure I don't need to name them). At the dinner I had at Zest!, the crab cakes didn't have cheese in them, and although the short ribs were accompanied by polenta, one could ask for a different side or for the polenta to be omitted. Most restaurants are happy to modify their dishes for customers with dietary restrictions such as fat and/or dairy content.

                                                  I enjoyed it for dinner, but I haven't been there for breakfast. I'm sorry I didn't get to try their creme brulee French toast; it sounds great!

                                                  The nice thing about Indy is that there really are quite a few restaurants where you can get excellent, creative food. And based on my dinner there, Zest! is one of them.

                                            2. What's the prevailing opinion on Eddie Merlot's?

                                              I'm going to be passing through Fort Wayne and I'm trying to decide whether to go to Joseph Decuis, where I've dined and which I loved, or the Eddie Merlot's location there, where I have not dined. Both menus sound tempting.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: nsxtasy

                                                If I had a choice between Joseph Decuis and Eddie Merlot - there would be no contest.
                                                Eddie Merlot wouldn't even stand a chance.

                                                I had dinner at the Eddie Merlot in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago and it was fine. My tuna wonton appetizer was good but a little too sweet, my salmon was really good but the sauce was way too sweet (I ended up scraping it off), and dessert was good but I don't remember what it was. Service was pretty good as well. It WAS a very good value though - we did one of the dinner specials which was your choice of appetizer, entree and dessert from a list they provided for, I think , $30 each.

                                                If you haven't been to Eddie Merlot, I don't think you'll hate it... but Joseph Decuis is so much better.
                                                Just my opinion of course!

                                                Joseph Decuis
                                                191 N. Main Street, Roanoke, IN 46783

                                                Eddie Merlot's
                                                3645 E 96th St, Indianapolis, IN 46240