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 could I possibly say that already hasn’t been said about the Cunningham Restaurant Group? Anyone who knows me or has read my column knows that I’m a CRG fanboy. It’s not just about the delicious food, the cool concepts, or the beautiful restaurants … it’s also about their amazing employees who are very professional and ridiculously talented. I’ll stop gushing now so that I can tell you all about their Latin American hot spot, Livery, which is located just off of Mass Ave. at 720 N College.
If you were curious as to why they’d name their restaurant after a livery, it’s because horses were once stabled in the same building. Don’t worry, you won’t be stepping on hay (or you know what) to get to your table; the place underwent a total renovation and is now one of the most beautiful restaurants in the entire city. From the beautiful Latin America-inspired décor to the ultra-chic bar area, this spot captures the romantic essence and flavor of our compadres to the South. It’s no coincidence that Livery is in the spotlight now that the weather is nice, because they have a rooftop patio that is the definition of summer. If you’re anything like me, food and drinks just taste better when served with fresh air and sunshine.
Now, on to the real reason we’re here and why I’m so ecstatic about Livery … the food (sorry, still gushing). Executive Chef Tiffany Jablonski oversees the kitchen where the exciting flavors of Latin American cuisine are brought to life. The food is fresh and vibrant and the taste is out-of-this-world. There is something for everyone on the menu at Livery, but in case you’re having a hard time deciding, here are my four “can’t miss” choices:
Empanadas: The internet says the word empanada literally translates to “enbreaded”; I’m not sure if that is even a word, but you get the idea. An empanada is simply a fried pastry that is stuffed with your favorite filling. You might be looking at the Livery menu and asking yourself, “Why is this guy recommending an entire section of the menu?” The answer is that I can’t play favorites. Livery’s empanadas are kinda like my kids … I love all of them equally. Here’s an idea, call up three or four of your friends and order all of them and then you can discuss which is your favorite. The empanada options change seasonally, so even more of a reason to pay a visit if you haven’t been in a while. I guess if you’re going to force my hand and you have to dine alone … order the corn empanada (but please don’t tell the others).
Shishitos + Brussels: Don’t you think Shishito and Brussels would be a strong name for a Law firm? I digress, because I’m not here to talk nonsense, I’m here to tell you about this bowl full of bliss. Shishitos are East Asian peppers that are sweet without the heat. I can’t recall ever having shishitos paired with Brussels Sprouts before, but it’s a match made in heaven. To spice things up a bit, the dish is served with pearl onion, peppadew (peppers), banana pepper, jalapeño-cilantro crema, and queso fresco. Do yourself a favor and please don’t forget to order this dish on your next visit.
Red Drum: Red drum is a game fish that is found along the eastern and southern Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines. The flavor of a red drum is mild, yet somewhat sweet and the texture is firm and flaky. It’s a delicious piece of fish that doesn’t have a fishy taste. The red drum is grilled to perfection and served with sweet plantain and yuca fries and finished with a delightful chorizo chutney and chimichurri. Fun fact about the Red Drum: it is one of the few items that has been on the menu since day one. I think you all know what that means: people obviously love it.
Sweet Plantains: Plantains are in the same family as bananas, but they are typically longer and have a thicker skin than a banana. The plantain makes for a solid foundation for this dish, but it’s what they build around it that truly brings it to life. Get a load of this: black bean purée, poblano crema, habanero-guajillo sauce, charred pineapple salsa, and Cotija cheese. All of that on one mouthwatering plate! The sweet plantains are not just for the vegetarians at the table, although they might put up a fight if you try to steal one.
Bonus dessert pick: Order the Churros! Nuff said.