Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review by Dustin Heller (@eatindywatchindie on Instagram)
What comes to mind when you think of the coolest areas in Indy? Some might say Broad Ripple, Mass Ave or even Fountain Square. Well, one area that should not be overlooked is the beautiful North Meridian Street Historic District. The homes are utterly breathtaking and the community is rich in character and history, which brings us to our foodie destination this week: Meridian Restaurant & Bar. Located at 5694 N. Meridian St., it’s right in the heart of the historic district and takes its name from the famed street on which it resides.
The restaurant is sandwiched between Meridian Street and the Indiana Central Canal where it overlooks both the historic homes of Meridian and also Alice Carter Park. The actual home to the restaurant in was built in the 1880s where many of the original wood beams are still on display today. The classy interior is bursting at the seams with charm; from the beautiful fireplaces to the candles lining the walls and chandeliers. The dining area is quite elegant with its white tablecloths, but it also has a casual feel–sort of like a warm ski lodge after a cold day on the slopes. I’d be remiss to not mention how romantic it is as well.
When it comes to the food at Meridian, Chef Allen Smith is the man in charge. Everything from the menu is made in-house and from scratch while using as many products from locally-sourced farmers and purveyors as possible. This sort of dedication to the local community is something we can all get behind. The foodie-friendly menu is not only creative but progressive and inventive. Meridian is also open for lunch, but I’m going to focus my attention on four “can’t miss” items from their bold dinner menu. Before I go there, though, I want to mention the smoked corn purée which shouldn’t be missed at any time of the day.
Wild Boar Bolognese: Many of you might not be all that familiar with wild boar, but it is actually a healthier alternative to beef and pork–and just as tasty. Even though boar is in the same family as the pig, they really don’t taste all that much alike. Boar meat is juicy and succulent, and for good measure, very lean and low in cholesterol. Enough about the animal, let’s get into this glorious dish. They start with house-made pappardelle noodles and toss it with the rich and flavorful Bolognese sauce. It is then topped with fresh lemon ricotta and Parmesan and served with a melt-in-your-mouth crostini. Needless to say, I’m “wild” about this dish.
Duck Breast: “Ho hum, what’s so special about a duck breast,” you ask. It may read “duck breast” on the menu, but that’s not doing this dish justice by any stretch of the imagination. Don’t get me wrong, I love duck, especially when prepared a perfect medium rare, but this dish has so much more to offer. The strong, rich flavor of the duck is paired perfectly with a medley of wild rice, cranberries, toasted almonds and cauliflower. The finishing touch is the an exquisite romesco sauce that not only tastes great but adds some nice color to an already beautiful dish. Looks good enough to eat, right?
Crab-Stuffed Flounder: Is there anything better than the sweet flavor and delicate texture of a nice piece of flounder? Yes, there is! You take that same flounder and stuff it full of sweet, succulent crab meat. You probably already knew the answer from the name of the dish, didn’t you? On a side note, isn’t everything made better when stuffed with crab meat? Well, I guess you wouldn’t want your teddy bear…I digress. The creative mind of Chef Allen Smith pairs the fish with artichokes, roasted carrots and…wait for it…refried black beans. It makes all the sense in the world when you’re eating it. The dish isn’t complete without the tarragon beurre blanc, a delightful white butter sauce.
Chocolate Raspberry Torte: I am a foodie through and through, and absolutely love the different tastes and textures of food. Not only this, but I’d be lying if I said appearance doesn’t play a big part in my pleasure of food. Presentation and plating is an essential part of fine dining, which leads me to the chocolate raspberry torte they’re serving up at Meridian. You might wanna see a doctor if the picture below doesn’t make your mouth water. The torte is a multilayered cake that is rich and delectable; it is accompanied by a tart raspberry sauce and a scoop of chocolate maltball ice cream and then drizzled with caramel. What a way to end a meal!
I want to send a special shout-out to my food photographer Dave Pluimer for the amazing photos this week. If you’re not following him on Instagram (@davepluimer), you’re really missing out. While you’re at it, you can follow me at @eatindywatchindie. Happy eating!