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DINING: Yes, Virginia (Ave.), you have a great new restaurant

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Dining - A&E

I’m always thrilled to tout a good new local restaurant. I get even more excited when that restaurant has the potential not only to anchor but also to help define a part of town.

All that is the case with Bluebeard (653 Virginia Ave., 686-1580), the new eatery already making a name for itself in the Cultural Trail construction zone between downtown and Fountain Square.

ae-dining-bluebeard-1col.jpg The Charcuterie at Bluebeard offers meaty surprises. Bread and more fill out the appetizer. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

For a fairly flawless lunch in an artfully rumpled environment (check out all the old-school typewriters), we started with the Charcuterie ($14). Handsomely served on a slice of tree trunk, it included the pate-like duck rillette, delicious slices of elk and pork salami, fresh baked bread from adjacent bakery Amelia’s, pickles, and more. Both soups on the day’s menu, Puree of Roasted Fennel & Potato ($5/$8) and Watermelon Gazpacho fluke ceviche ($5/$9), distilled unique flavors down to their liquefied essences (although the former was too rich for me even to finish a cup).

Sandwiches dominate the main lunch selections and, on Amelia’s bread, the kitchen would have to work pretty hard to create a dud. Quite the contrary: My companion and I fell over ourselves singing the praises of each of our sandwiches. Mine, the Agnello Roasted Lamb Shoulder ($13), was dressed with pepper chutney, saffron aioli, scallions and romaine lettuce. That’s a combo that

might sound busy, but here the flavors blended effortlessly into an original, winning creation. I barely was able to steal a taste of The Salumi Salami, Mortadella and Hot Coppacolla ($12) that my guest ordered. Pickled red onions and grain mustard provided just the right accents.

Bluebeard also serves creative salad combos

(Greek beets and green beans anyone?) and medium plate entrees for lunch (on our visit, mussels and a white pizza with oysters and pork sausage). And while the more-than-standard prices might cause you to stop before desserts, those who continue will be glad they did, based on our sampling of the Buttermilk Bread Pudding ($8), which was served as a small but mighty fine pair of treats, with sweetened ricotta, almonds, honey and prosecco pickled cherries—which should be available by the jar.

Warning: Offerings here can change depending on availability of fresh, largely local, ingredients. And, as of now, Bluebeard doesn’t accept reservations. Still, you shouldn’t have any reservations about venturing down Virginia Avenue for one of the best new Indy restaurants in recent memory.•

—Lou Harry

First in a month-long series of colorful restaurants (which will resume after next week’s state fair food binge).

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  • Well...
    ... I COMPLETELY enjoyed everything about this new place, so I will discount the critique of "jw balderdash" as exactly that... balderdash! (Aside from not agreeing with him, it was all I could do to understand what he was trying to say). We need MORE places like this in Indy and jw can go visit MCL for his comfy seats and less avant garde, non "vinegarette" house salad. Try it and you'll LOVE it!
  • Bluebeard is a great addition to downtown
    We had a great dinner at Bluebeard a few weeks ago. Despite being a tad slow (it was an extremely busy evening), all of the food we sampled was incredible. From the simple radishes with butter and salt to the pappardelle bolognese, we were not disappointed. I plan on making many return visits. It's great to have another local restaurant showcasing creative young chefs.
  • BlueBeard Needs to Shave Errors
    Analysis from 40 yr professional with major food servers like Alcoa,Prophet Co (biggest in US at that time,Marriott)--here is what I diagnosed from l time visit to Bluebeard Sat. last. (I won awards based on you cannot fix what you do not know about--so this is not a complaint but a critical analysis of major major flaws observed 2 hrs (aside from overpriced,mediocre,pretentious food.) Seating: 3 of us nixed uncomfortable first room early 5 p.m. pre-cloud asking to be seated in more comfortable (looking) bar--but within 2 minutes of loud,boom boom music (even turned down at our request) we relented and went out to barren, uncomfortable pew in lst room BUT, IN NEXT 2 HRS WE OBSERVED AT LEAST 6 PARTIES--FROM GRAY HAIR TO FASHIONABLY CHIC YOUNGER--REPEAT SAME--ASKED TO SIT IN BAR,WITHIN MINUTES CAME OUT TO FLEE NOISE,DARKNESS.(Note:In one case,party of 4 seniors, one oversized, struggled to sit in undersized chair with oversized butt!. Even as we left we saw another similar group of 5 trying to put postage stamp tables along hard un-cushioned pew to try out, several opted for sweltering outside to avoid discomfort,noise. Plus,as lst room filled, poor accoustics created noise level, overhead lights 8 feet too high to light tables. Every architectural mistake but correctible by (cushions on bench seats,bigger 4 tops instead of all 2's0 drop lights down to where illumination at table instead of up at almost ceiling. Re Bar-Music--Smart owner would have put noisy bar in Room l with spartan seating and lighting, used bigger room so that discriminating older, upscale could dine in a room with better larger tables. Bar seats are kinky,funny, undersized for today's oversized fannies. REMEMBER, you drink more and eat more when you are comfortable and not assailed by loud sonic booming music. Menu is too too pretentious--$7 for bread basket, $ll for minimal offering cheeses. Every entree too too avante garde--how about a simple house salad for the non vinegarette crowd? Rhubarb item was made of peaches,no peaches but a smear of jelly in peach dessert. BB is sending away l time never return customers who braved the parking nightmare,construction to give it a try. They need a consultant to learn what major food service giants paid to learn,...a free offering here
  • Bluebeard is totally delectable
    The reverend Palmer cocktail was smooth and exquisite. The duck prosciutto was addictive. The melon salad was complex with delightful mini explosions of surprises. And the blackberry semifreddo, oh… absolutely perfect!
  • Just Simply The Best
    Don't miss dinner and enjoy a Watermellon Smash cocktail. You won't be disappointed.

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