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Restaurant Reviews --> A Visit to Hedge Row!

A Visit to Hedge Row!
Kimbal Musk's New Restaurant On Mass Ave

It always seems that we are "late to the party" when new restaurants open in Indianapolis. So, when Hedge Row opened last Wednesday on Mass Ave, we decided to play hookie on Friday (what the heck, it was spring break and no one was working anyway) and visit for lunch. Luckily, when we visited their website, we discovered that, bucking the current trend, they accept reservations, even for lunch. And when we arrived at 12:45, we were very glad we had one, since the place was packed, with even every seat in the large bar taken.

In case you haven't heard, Hedge Row is part of a restaurant group owned by Kimbal Musk, brother of Elon (Tesla), and his partner, Hugo Matheson. All of their projects are devoted to sourcing food from local farmers in each location and developing menus based on the local specialties. Hedge Row is named for the farm where Musk and his partners sourced ingredients for their first Kitchen restaurant which opened in 2004 in Boulder, Colorado. The group owns five upscale restaurants known as Kitchen, scattered from Denver to Chicago and 6 popularly priced restaurants called Next Door, one of which is slated to open at 46th & College sometime this year. Hedge Row is only the second of their new mid-range, farm to table, wood-fired concept, with the first opening in Denver last year.

We were seated in the bright, light dining room featuring a contemporary design scheme of gray and white, light wood accents and low hanging modern light fixtures over the 2 tops - watch your head! First impressions were light and airy, a little cramped and a little noisy given that all the surfaces were hard. The vibe and bustle made Linda say it felt more like downtown Chicago, and the quality of the flatware and plates, including Riedel stemware, sets them apart. For only being open 3 days, the quality of the service was amazingly professional and attentive.

The wine list has plenty of choices with a bent toward the lesser known, highly regarded labels with prices hovering a little over twice retail for bottles that seems fair compared to some of the pricing I have seen lately in other restaurants of this caliber. There were plenty of great choices, but since we were grazing the menu, we settled on the Bonny Doon Vin Gris Rose at $38 which seemed to cover all of the potential food pairing bases. Other great choices would have been an Au Bon Climat Chardonnay at $62, or the Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel also at $62. The wine service was also professional, with glass pours being served in carafes. And we also saw a number of interesting looking cocktails served.

The menu was designed to be shared with categories labeled snacks, vegetables, small plates, salads, sandwiches and large plates. Items ordered are also delivered to the table as soon as they are prepared in the kitchen for maximum freshness, unless you request otherwise. We began with a snack choice, the gulf shrimp hushpuppies with hot pepper honey and accented with diced chives. The two golf ball sized hushpuppies arrived piping hot, filled with shrimp and delicious...and at only $4, a bargain. It is so good, ask for extra sauce on the side, or better yet, get two orders along with the extra sauce! 

Luckily, we did not get two orders since we still ordered way too much food. Linda insisted on an order of wood roasted carrots, with creamy ricotta and a dill gremolata at $8. Although roast carrots would not normally be high on my list, I ate more carrots at lunch than I have ever had except in a pot roast. The multi-colored artisanal carrots were quartered, and roasted to just the amount of crunch and paired beautifully with the creamy cheese, dill and olive oil. Delicious. And on another service note, our messy sharing plates and flatware were immediately replaced before the next course arrived. 

Our next two dishes arrived in tandem, one being the small plate of three crispy fish lettuce tacos featuring tempura rockfish, pickled red onion, radish, and smoked chili tartar sauce at $14. The fish was crisp and mild and was nicely accented by the smokey sauce and pickled onions. The bibb lettuce wrapper was tasty, but a little challenging to hold after the second bite. But trust me, we managed to finish all of it with a knife and fork. It was a tasty inventive take on the humble fish taco.

The other dish was a grilled Piri Piri chicken sandwich that featured Gunthorp Farms chicken, charred onions, a cucumber-red cabbage slaw and a lightly spicy Peruvian Piri Piri pepper sauce served on a ciabatta roll at $13. It was accompanied with hand-cut garlic French fries and a delicious house-made catsup. And while Linda likes her frites thinner and crisper, I thought they were great. For me, the sandwich was the hit of the meal with the almost delicate spicy sauce, offset by the sweet onion and crunchy slaw, creating a truly unique combination of flavors, all of them good. 

And, we met a friendly couple also headed to Hedge Row while all sharing our mutual frustration of using the electronic parking meters on Mass Ave. They shared their take on lunch as they were leaving, and fortunately, had tried different things. So they were able to vouch for the quality of the roasted beets & pistachios, the wood-roasted Viking lamb meatballs, the pan-seared salmon and the pasta bolognese, all of which they pronounced excellent. We checked the dinner menu and with the exception of five added large plates, all of which sound pretty good, the menus are the same. Trust us...it is worth a visit.

Hedge Row American Bistro

350 Massachusetts Avenue
Suite 150
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 643-2750