Restaurants come and go but occasionally someone comes along with just the right touch. Perhaps a clichéd analogy of getting all the ingredients just right is the best description for a fine dining, long-term success in any city.
John Adams has had such a run in Indianapolis. Now outside big-time foodies the name John Adams probably doesn’t mean much – other than that Revolutionary War guy. Right?
John Adams is unquestionably one of Indy’s best chefs and has helped draw lots of national attention to Indy’s food scene. Adams helped open and establish Bluebeard, in Fletcher Place near Fountain Square. Bluebeard is a chef-driven, local and fresh food spot that some might argue started the Indy food boom. Bluebeard, while under Adams’ chef knife, garnered a 2012 James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant.
Adams next project was a seafood-focused restaurant on 9th and Pennsylvania called Plow and Anchor. But his latest efforts seem to be what he’s been looking for all along. Marrow, in Fountain Square, allows the chef to focus on his “globally inspired cuisine made from the freshest locally sourced ingredients.”
I had a reason to celebrate Jan. 6 so it was time to explore Marrow since its now been open over a year. How many times in life can you say, “That was the best meal of my life.” I’ve dined in many fine dining restaurants and the Marrow experience is at the top in Indy and one of best I’ve had.
We decided to explore the menu. Since I was celebrating we started with Camille Braun Cremant D’Alsace Brut Rose. It was about $50 and awesome. It was beautiful Loire Valley bubbly Rose’ of Pinot.
We chose pickles and corn muffins as our table snacks. The muffins were small with a nice crunchy exterior. But the sorghum-miso butter took them to extraordinary. The pickle plate feature squash, daikon, mushrooms, and pineapple. The snacks were $10 combined.
We ordered a hot and cold appetizer. The cold was Jonah Crab and Avocado Salad ($17). The avocado salad was bright and refreshing while the small crab claws provided fresh tasting crab meat that took a little work but well worth it.
I ordered the Seared Foie Gras ($17). My dinner mate was certain she did not want to try it but I insisted – then she came back for more. The foie gras was seared beautifully to add texture and flavor. It was served with cheddar polenta, bourbon braised fennel and pear, crispy shallots and a slow poached egg! It was packed with flavor and a mixture of textures.
Our two main dishes arrived with a nice entry-level Elk Cove Pinot Noir ($54). The Pinot was really rich, smooth and minimal acidity for an Oregon Pinot Noir. This wine is widely available in Indiana in the mid-$20 range.
My friend order Duck Duo ($32) – a smoked duck leg and seared breast served with scallion pancakes, leeks, apricot hoisin, peanuts and steamed rice. That leg was smoked wonderfully with deep smoky flavor. The breast was cooked just right leaving a juicy bite that really countered the smoky leg.
I ordered Seared Scallops ($34) that was one of my all-time favorite dishes. The scallops were perfectly seared but it was the lobster risotto base that we both gushed over. I’d like a bucket to go, John! The dish included cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon, toasted peanuts, papaya rum sauce, sambal, and boiled egg.
We wrapped up with a couple of desserts. My friend enjoyed a really light Meyer Lemon Budino ($8) that was a nice palate cleanser. I’m always a sucker for Panna Cotta. I had the Buttermilk Pana Cotta ($8) with pomegranate and orange relish.
You follow along, you can see it’s not an inexpensive meal but it is one that will deliver on every dollar. We went all out because it was a special occasion. I have criticized a number of Indy restaurants – nary a negative word about Marrow. It’s worth your hard-earned, high-end, dining dollars!