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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!

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  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!

            Hummm..
            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!