DINING: North-side hotel offers surprising destination dining

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Dining - A&E

The ambitious Grille 39, at the Renaissance Indianapolis North (11925 N. Meridian St., Carmel, 814-2550), doesn’t try to hide the fact that it’s a hotel restaurant.

Others wanting to transcend the genre often attempt to hide what they are. Take a seat at one of those and you wouldn’t suspect that there’s a family of four and a couple of business travelers checking in just outside the doorway. But Grille 39’s space blends with the high-ceilinged, well-appointed lobby. Its borders are less defined. The openness gives it breathing room. And it works.

We dined midday, and found the food as refreshing as the atmosphere.

ae-dininggrill-39-01-15col.jpg There’s nothing fishy about the Salmon BLT at Grille 39. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

A Salmon BLT ($13.75—perhaps a bit pricey for anyone not on an expense account) didn’t need the tartar sauce to give it snap. Inside a toasted sourdough roll, the kitchen layered a good-sized piece of Atlantic salmon with applewood bacon, roasted tomato, sliced avocado and red onion. A cup of Lump Crab Chowder ($5.25) was subtle but well stocked.

The Shrimp Salad Nicoise ($14.75) seemed designed by an art director rather than a chef, with big, leafy lettuce that seemed to come from the Land of the Giants. The lettuce housed haricot vert (thin string beans), finely chopped egg, olives, tomatoes and shrimp with tails still intact. Good luck finding a starting point, but once you figure that out, the flavor combinations work.

Better balancing eye appeal and manageability was an outstanding Pulled Pork Sandwich ($12.50), which used restraint in blending in Montgomery Inn BBQ sauce. The tender meat cooperated well with smoked gouda and a soft pretzel roll. Housemade potato chips on the side were thin, crunchy and delicious.

It was a bad news/good news day for us on the dessert front. Our waiter wasn’t aware of a refrigerator breakdown in the kitchen until after we ordered his

recommended Hot Apple Pecan Crisp and the Skyscraper.

“All we can do,” he said, “is the Grille 39 Sundae or the Strawberry Shortcake.”

“And surely,” he added, “we won’t charge you for them.”

A nice customer service move—especially for a hotel restaurant with a transient population unlikely to become regulars. (Although we did wonder why it took this long for the waiter to find out there was a problem.)

The temporarily limited selection turned out not to be a compromise. The Grille 39 Sundae ($8.50) was more than a bowl of ice cream with toppings—it featured a palate (literally) of toppings to complement a waffle bowl of Graeter’s raspberry chocolate chip ice cream. The Strawberry Shortcake ($6.50) proved a bit of a DIY with pound cake, lots of fresh candied strawberries and chantilly cream.

After such a satisfying lunch, it was tempting just to get a room.•

—Lou Harry


Third in a month-long series of “Grill” restaurant reviews.


  • Blah
    Oh no! The Montgomery Inn Barbeque Sauce has invaded Indianapolis. Possible North America's worst rib joint. Say no more, I pass.
  • Hidden gem
    I visited Grille 39 by way of a restaurant.com coupon awhile back and was delightfully surprised. Delicious sea bass with a wonderful lemon sauce. Great service. Nice vibe. Definitely worth a trip!
  • Hidden gem
    I visited Grille 39 by way of a restaurant.com coupon awhile back and was delightfully surprised. Delicious sea bass with a wonderful lemon sauce. Great service. Nice vibe. Definitely worth a trip!
  • Hidden gem
    I visited Grille 39 by way of a restaurant.com coupon awhile back and was delightfully surprised. Delicious sea bass with a wonderful lemon sauce. Great service. Nice vibe. Definitely worth a trip!

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  1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

  2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

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  5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.