Friday, March 21, 2008

Three Latest and Best

Two Dishes at L'Explorateur: I know some of you think I get stuck on a few of the same places, and others have had inconsistent experiences at L'explorateur. (I know others of you, like me, love it.) But last night? Last night I was reminded of how Chef Neal Brown is cooking at a level significantly higher than so many. While everything I had was delicious (I could eat a dozen of those pork buns with the dark, sweet sauce, and wonderfully sweet-tart pickled cabbage), two dishes rose a level above: The jellyfish salad in a warm "broth" of lime and apple juice with a vinaigrette of soy, miso, and chili oil would be just as at home on the menu at Morimoto or Nobu. The tang of the lime, sweetness of the apple, salty of the dressing and a huge hit of uber-freshness from the cucumber and cilantro made this dish work. The jellyfish -- soaked, marinated, then chopped into noodle-like pieces -- was perfectly tender, and the chili oil added a heat that was an exquisite pain, so enjoyable with the complexity and depth of the broth. (I couldn't stop eating the broth -- the heat was just sublime and such a contrast to amateurish dishes that are all heat with nothing to support it.) My only thought as my eyes were rolling back in my head (or watering, I can't tell which), was how great it is that we have a chef here who can think like this -- and execute it. Other great dish? The sweetbreads -- perfectly pan fried and crispy, but so tender, and served over a small bed of cooked greens in a salty dressing with green olives. The greens -- and green olives, amazingly -- were such a perfectly salty counterpoint to the sweetbreads I caught myself craving a huge, bubbly glass of champagne, perfect to pair with this dish. (I stuck with the lovely and low-key Ramsey Cabernet, just what I was in the mood for last night. Thanks, BK, Lindy said this was one of yours!) A perfect ending to a heavy food week. It all gives me hope even in Indianpolis, we have a few chefs doing fantastic work. Thanks, Neal.

From the Ridiculous to the Sublime: While I was in Bloomington last week (for the FARM review, guess restaurant goes into which category), I couldn't have skipped Restaurant Tallent. Chef Krissy Tallent at the bar making us "fluffernutters" with her housemade (and toasted) marshmallows and spiced nut butter was pretty sublime while we drank wine in the bottle since I was in college. Had an excellent bar dinner made even better by lots of laughing and a chance to catch up with the Tallents.

Cobb Salad at Nordstrom Grill: I've been looking for a traditional, west coast-style Cobb salad for a while and found a passable facsimile at Nordstrom Grill. Had a pleasant lunch with a former colleague (and blossoming food writer in her own right) and was happy to finally see that someone knows how to put together a Cobb the California way -- with lots of bacon, blue cheese, and avocado. But the best part? The chocolate mint "sticks" that come with the check!

Two Minute Warning: Hey, Servers at Palomino! I know you're trying to turn tables quickly during a busy lunch service, but when people are clearly having a business lunch and deep in discussion, please don't try to remove their plates every time they put their fork down! Yesterday, while a colleague and I discussed ideas, our half-eaten entrees were nearly snatched away in five separate kidnapping attempts. With dessert, we only had to fend off the "areyoufinishedyet" and "maywetakeyourplate" zealots twice. Next person who attempts to remove my rhubarb-strawberry cobbler gets the fork I had to ask for in the back of the hand!


MADCOW said...

Mmmmm...I had a great Jellyfish salad in Malaysia once. Never thought I would see it in Indy. With apple broth nonetheless, a little weird, but I could see how it could be a really good combination.

Anonymous said...

Who'd a thunk it? Jellyfish salad in Indy!

But, yes the broth was delicious... thanks for the teeny taste

Anonymous said...

I ate at the bar at Tallent last night, just looking for a light veggie hit after judging a rice/meat event on campus. I loved the duck egg on top of the frisee salad -- very tasty, and it really hit the spot. Service, as always, was spot-on. I hope that Krissy and Dave realize what an asset they have in Shaun (sp ?).