Pat wasn’t able to have lunch with me this week so I figured I would have to eat alone. Fortunately I was able to make a lunch date with a friend I am not able to see very often. We decided on this new Bento place in Broad Ripple. The menu is odd to me. They have a set Bento lunch that you can get prepared in different styles. Also they offer a choice of edamame or tempura shrimp as a side dish. I ordered a beef Bento in a Mongolian style with shrimp tempura.
The beef dish was excellent. The beef was very tender and the veggie portions had a very nice snap to them. The sauce had slight sweetness that fit well with the rice. On the down side the tempura wasn’t great, the batter coat was too thick and the egg rolls were merely average. The beef more than made up for it. On the UP side I had my first bubble tea. My pal Joey turned me on to that. Bubble tea is a flavored tea mixed with milk and it has tapioca pearls added. I had coconut. It was delicious especially the little black tapioca pearls.
Joey opted for shrimp and I honestly don’t recall what style she chose. I do know she got the edamame. She likes edamame. She also ordered a Taro bubble tea. She liked her food but wasn’t impressed with the egg rolls either. The entrees are in the $9-$10 range and the bubble tea is $3.95. I never thought I would say this about a non-alcoholic drink but I think it is worth it, and I think this little joint is worth a visit.
There is a new “best” restaurant in Indy. The Cerulean, at the Alexander Hotel on South Delaware Street. It has nothing to do with the Hotel per se, it is independently owned and operated. Frankly I was ambivalent about the joint. The menus are heavy in chef speak. Quite often that speech does not translate into good cooking. The lunch menu offers a choice of entrees which you pair with three side dishes. The whole meal is served in a series of square ceramic boxes in a larger bento box.
I wanted stripped bass. Since bass is an assertive taste and it had the added richness of the gribiche I felt I needed some acidity. I could have over did it with my choices of bib lettuce with blood orange vinaigrette; asparagus and grapes with lemon and rice noodle with vinegar. But every thing fit like the proverbial glove. The fish was crisped in a fry pan, placed on a bed of fresh spinach and topped with the aforementioned gribiche. Every bite was as flawless as the first. As a matter of fact every dish was on point. When ever I eat I automatically try to figure out how the dish was prepared, how I could replicate it and finally how I would change it. With this meal I would not change a thing. I am fighting the urge to write about each and every dish. With this meal I could easily rip off 500 words. I will comment about the economic model for this enterprise. They use all local vendors for their food; and that can be pricey. However as far as the lunch prices go I think the pricing is more than fair. I do have a small confession to make. Deep down inside since there was so much chef speak on the menus I was half way hoping they wouldn’t stand up to their words and I could stick a fork in a sacred cow; so to speak. I know shameful of me. In this case I’m glad to be disappointed.
I had to come back and add something I forgot to mention. The staff. The entire crew was pleasant, healthful and knowledgeable. If I had to choose one phrase to describe my impression of the staff it would be esprit de corps. Everyone seemed excited about working there. That is something an owner operator strives for. That also should tell the diner that the owner does indeed have a clue.