INDIANAPOLIS – Champagne, inventive dishes, and big-band jazz with comedy vocalists make for one heck of a holiday Saturday night.
Cerulean restaurant, in Indy’s new downtown Alexander Hotel, has been one of the highlights of a stellar 2013 in capital city dining. It’s inventive and tasty. It’s also slightly pretentious and pricey but my dining experience proved well worth money.
Cerulean is a destination restaurant that has gotten largely positive reviews. The only negative comment on sites like Urban Spoon, Yelp, and Travel Advisor was portion size. My dinner companion and I didn’t have issues with the food presented during our dinner the Saturday before Christmas.
We started with a chicken appetizer, Mousseline, which was the evening special. Think of it as gourmet chicken nuggets and you’ll get the idea. The chicken was extremely tender and most with a nice crunchy breading. We both loved the mushroom ketchup! There were five nuggets –so good we cut the fifth into two pieces. $11.
Cerulean does a small, medium, and large plate concept. We ordered the lobster pot pie as our medium dish which proved to be the only disappointment of the night. The pot pie gets lots of attention in reviews but we found it lacking flavor. The pastry was wonderful, the filling unremarkable. $8.
We also took our efficient waiter’s recommendation of drinking a little real champagne. The Mumm Brut was absolutely divine but pricey. But it’s the holidays so $20 a glass wasn’t a shock.
My friend had duck with cracklings over Carbonara. She loved the inventive pairing with perfectly cooked duck.
We each had a glass of red wine from a rather quirky wine list. I chose a Washington state Merlot for her duck and I had a Barbera d’ Alba Ruvel with my pork porterhouse steak. The small (very small) glass of wine was $10 apiece.
My pork was incredible lying on a slice of zucchini bread in a root beer reduction sauce. It was cooked medium with a really yummy flavor from the grill marks. The porterhouse is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes at $28. The duck breast was similarly priced.
We went chocolate for dessert and enjoyed a plate of ganache with a spicy kick, some cocoa crumble, cashews, chocolate ribbons, and dreamy avocado ice cream. $10.
The place is beautiful with street-level views. It is divided into different dining areas to partially minimize the noise. As said previously, it’s a destination restaurant worth the effort if you are ready to pull out the MasterCard.
Dinner for two, with tip, was close to $200.
Leisure Kings at Indy’s Jazz Kitchen – Even though I do occasionally write about restaurants, I seldom tackle entertainment but just have to mention our outing after dinner. I had read a simple one-paragraph description of this unique Christmas show. It was described as irreverent and salty and it was hilariously accurate. The show wouldn’t be for any prude or those easily offended.
The Leisure Kings, normally a duo, combine with a really great big band lineup of tremendous musicians for this annual holiday treat. It’s really hard to describe but one of the opening numbers was The Christmas Song sung to Billy Joel’s Just the Way You Are. Or a trio of songs about Jesus set to the music of The Carpenters – get it?
The two female backup singers were called the Christmas Hoes! The two-hour show featured some whacky give-a-ways and non-stop laughter.