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Lunch at Cerulean

A spring break Saturday off for me gave us the opportunity to wander downtown and have lunch at the new Cerulean restaurant located in the Alexander Hotel in CityWay. It was as quiet on South Delaware as it was in Zionsville and Fishers, but Cerulean proved as hip and interesting as we expected. Floor to ceiling windows on two walls of the restaurant made for a light and airy atmosphere. And the neutral and contemporary design and color scheme of ivory, taupe, light gold and brown was accented by a dramatic cerulean blue wall separating the restaurant from the bar. The music playing was as hip as the decor, think of the the sound track to the last Indie movie you saw . We didn't get to sit in the, often written about, "bird nest" that comprises about a quarter of the restaurant, but our table was hip enough since Indianapolis Symphony conductor, Krzysztof Urbanski was just finishing up at the table next to us (Linda recognized him from his very distinctive hair).

Lunch at Cerulean may be more interesting, and much less complicated, than the confusing dinner menu. And lunch is served in a bento box - with ceramic inserts holding the selections. It is easy - choose one main entree from eight selections and three side choices from eleven incredibly inventive dishes. I went with the pork sausage hash that included potatos, red bell pepper, onions and a sweet potato ketchup, that may not have been overly exotic, but was certainly very tasty and very interesting. Linda chose the sauteed sunfish with mushroom relish and greens (she thinks collard). It was nicely crusted on one side, tender and tasty. The sides were the thing that provided the interest level that kept us talking about this amazing lunch experience. The big hit was the broccolini, shallot, cranberry, walnut and bacon-accented salad, with a dressing we would love to reproduce...we're still talking about it today and trying to figure out the dressing. Almost equally good was the spinach, goat cheese, beet and pistachio salad, with a sweet tarragon vinegarette. And Linda is still raving about her butternut and acorn squash dish, featuring pecan brown sugar tuile, that could have doubled as dessert. The noodle salad, chorizo potato salad and green bean, mushroom vinagrette rounded out one of the most interesting lunches we've ever eaten.

At a combined cost of $25, it may have been one of the best lunch values I can remember. Of course we are always capable of increasing the cost by adding a bottle of one of the most expensive white wines on the menu, an Andrew Rich Roussane from Washington state for $45, which was an excellent accompaniment to our lunch. The wine list is extremely well chosen, and honestly priced at about twice retail. It is intelligently divided into Old and New World wines and there are few choices with which you can go wrong.

Service was prompt, efficient and probably not the "A" team at lunch, but we had no complaints.

And for a great "art wander," it is worth visiting the Alexander. We couldn't decide if the installation of old record albums cut into birds (and we admire the artist's ability to actually cut up his Dereck and the Dominos album) or the Madame Walker portrait made out of combs was the best. But we know that the very cool looking bar, Plat 99, will be a hot place to hang out on Saturday night to drink cocktails.

Cerulean

339 South Delaware Street
Indianapolis, IN
(317) 870-1320
http://www.ceruleanrestaurant.com