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Restaurant Reviews --> The Meridian Restaurant and Bar

The Meridian Restaurant and Bar
On this night, at least, Indinapolis' best restaurant

Meridian on Meridian Redux

We do so few restaurant reviews that we never review the same restaurant twice, but this time we have made an exception.

Last Friday night, we had what was perhaps one of the best overall dining experiences we've ever had in Indianapolis. We enjoyed our first experience at Meridian enough to write about it in March of 2008, and subsequent visits for lunch have been good, but our meal on Friday was truly exceptional. Maybe they were just really "on" that evening. All I can really say is that on Friday, August 28th at about 7 pm, Meridian was the best restaurant in Indianapolis. If Chef Dan Dunville's kitchen and staff are delivering at this level on a daily basis – and I hope they are – it's a don't-miss experience.

A great restaurant experience is not just about the food...it's the valet, the host, the wine service, the servers, the kitchen, the presentation and above all, the timing, and when it all comes together (and it frequently doesn't), it is something worth passing on. We arrived in pouring rain, thus we opted for the complimentary valet service that was polite and efficient, and were immediately greeted by a host who found our name and whisked us to our table. When asked if it was a special occasion by our extremely professional server, Bradford, Linda said "no," but I gently reminded her that was her birthday. She asked our server for no fuss, so he wished her a very sincere birthday greeting and then left the topic alone.

We were presented with menus and a wine list, but felt no obligation to rush into the evening. The two glasses of Wente Chardonnay we requested were promptly delivered by his assistant for our sipping pleasure, and just about the time we had relaxed with our Chardonnay, Bradford reappeared to fill us in on the specials and take our order. The timing was impeccable, as there was just enough Chardonnay left in our glasses to enjoy with the appetizers when they arrived.

I could not resist the deconstructed Oysters Rockefeller that I had enjoyed on our first visit. Arriving without their shells, they are like no Rockefeller that you have ever been served. Dusted with flour and fried, six of them are each served over a dollop of creamed spinach and topped with crisp, smoked bacon, a touch of hollandaise, and presented on a plate surrounded by dots of sweet Chili sauce....absolutely outstanding.

Linda opted for the frog legs special that were presented as tiny drumsticks, leg up, in an ancho chili accented sauté of fresh corn, finely minced onions and red bell peppers, along with swirls of very tasty remoulade sauce on one side and a Creole barbeque sauce on the other. It wasn't a contest, but we really couldn't decide which appetizer was better.

Our extra indulgence of the evening was to share an order of Chef Danville's famous smoked corn purée, that arrived beautifully presented already split into separate bowls. Silky smooth, it was filled with smoky, peppery, bacony flavors and fresh corn goodness. And, just as I said to Linda, "bread would be nice with this," a platter of hot rolls and a ramekin of butter appeared on the table. Our bottle of Penley Hyland Shiraz 2005 (Wine Advocate 91) arrived just as were ready to switch from white to red, about two-thirds the way through the appetizers. The excellent, restrained Aussie red actually complemented the flavors of the appetizers, but was perfect for our bold entrées.

A perfect interval elapsed between our appetizer plates being whisked away and the presentation of our entrées. Linda's ample serving of wild boar bolognese served over wide pappardelle noodles was intense and deeply flavored with notes of fennel wafting from the plate. It was almost as good as our pork and veal bolognese, but the wild boar was a wonderful flavor not to be duplicated at home. My entrée was pure comfort food....braised veal short ribs, served over mashed potatoes with a veal stock gravy, along with peas and sliced carrots that managed to be al dente in spite of the slow cooked nature of the dish. The veal was tender and flavorful, and the entire dish was an incredibly sophisticated take on Mom's Sunday afternoon pot roast.

Too sated for dessert, we leisurely finished our wine while admiring the ambiance of the updated 1880s interior of the former Dodd's Town House. Even the valet seemed to be as on as the rest of the restaurant, producing our vehicle within seconds of our exit. This may be the most glowing review we have ever written...I just remember something told to me by a restaurateur many years ago: "I'm only as good as the last meal I served." I hope that Meridian can continue to deliver dining experiences at this level. Meridian Restaurant and Bar 5694 North Meridian Street • Indianapolis, IN 46208 317/466-1111 March 12, 2008

Meridian Restaurant and Bar

5694 North Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46208
(317) 466-1111
www.meridianonmeridian.com