DINING: Rule-breaker Recess schools Indianapolis diners

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Dining - A&E

It’s somehow fitting that we broke a lot of the rules at Recess.

After all, local restaurateur Greg Hardesty’s new SoBro eatery (4907 N. College Ave., 925-7529) doesn’t exactly color inside the lines, either. The menu, which changes daily, is merely an FYI. Hardesty and his staff decide what’s for dinner. And let’s just say they’re a bit more adventurous than I usually am.

This seared scallop dish was served on a recent visit, but probably won’t be today at the ever-changing Recess. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

So I was more than a little anxious about my first trip. What if I had to eat salmon, which I’ve been studiously avoiding for years? Or a cow part that didn’t grow up to become steak? Or beets? I really don’t like beets.

Then my friend gave me a pep talk that put me in a better state of mind. She saw the mystery meal as a chance to try dishes she might not be brave enough to order on her own. If we left hungry, well, then we would just pick up something else on the way home. And it was a low-risk gamble despite the $35 to $45 per-person fixed price, since IBJ pays for our anonymous review meals.

Her points well-taken, we made our way to the restaurant, which looks more like an elementary school cafeteria than an upscale eatery. Think cinderblock walls, concrete floor and plastic chairs straight from the lunchroom. The wine list comes on a clipboard. It was a welcome departure from the typical fine-dining pretentiousness.

Our jeans-clad server gave us “menus,” explained the concept, and did a great job selling us on the wine pairings that accompanied the first three of the four courses ($20 when we were there, but prices change with the wines). We joked about not being able to decide what to order. He quipped that he’d asked the chef if he should push the chicken. Then we got down to business.

First up: Scottish Salmon Crudo. Of course. Not just salmon, but raw salmon. Raw salmon belly, to be precise—sliced thin and presented atop a cucumber-jicama slaw of sorts with a few homemade potato chips on the side. I ate my words along with the divinely delicate starter, which all but melted in my mouth. Turns out salmon can be delicious. Who knew?

The second course was even more challenging for me. The dish, dubbed the TNFL Special, will be Hardesty’s entry in this year’s Taste of the NFL culinary competition before the Super Bowl in Miami. He is representing the Colts in the annual charity cook-off to benefit hunger-relief organizations. His creation? Beef Lengua Chilaquiles. Yep, beef tongue. Extra credit for those of you who translated on your own.

This time, I let my friend dig in first, and her moan of pleasure had me following suit with only minimal apprehension. I needn’t have worried. The braised tongue (from Jasper-based Fischer Farms Natural Beef) was pot-roast tender despite the sear it got before joining a mixture of roasted poblano peppers, tomato, onion and garlic, all served on strips of tortilla chips. It reminded us of a deconstructed taco.

After that, the third course seemed downright tame. A skin-on, bone-out chicken breast (from Gunthorp Farms in LaGrange) served in a bowl over beans, mushrooms and spinach in a red wine chicken jus. The skin was crispy from a quick trip to the frying pan, the meat as tender and juicy as it comes. The combination was downright delightful.

Dessert was billed as a blood orange and banana parfait with candied pecans. Sounded good even before we found out the signature came on top of a slice of pound cake sitting in a pool of crème anglaise. It was sour, sweet and satisfying all at once.

None of the portions was huge, but the meal was plenty filling. And at $36 per person, the price wasn’t prohibitive even if dinner for two exceeded IBJ’s $50 weekly Dining budget.

Which brings us back to the rules we broke. 1. Normally, we avoid duplication during restaurant reviews—different dishes per diner makes for a review with more scope. 2. We also typically eschew one-night-only specials since we want whatever we tried to also be available to the reader. 3. We try to do lunch instead of dinner. 4. We try not to order things we don’t think we’ll like. Recess didn’t give us a choice. And that’s all to the good.

Now who’s up for a game of kickball? I promise to play by the rules.•

First in our month-long series of reviews of College Avenue eateries.



  • Um... It is Meridian-Kessler, not SoBro
    The restaurant (and everything east to Winthrop) is in Meridian-Kessler. SoBro is east of the Minion and south of Kessler.
  • Why so snooty?
    Alisa's comments below are right on. To be honest, I can't comment on the calibre of the food at Recess, because I didn't make it that far. The moment I perceived that condescending, nasty vibe of which she speaks I was splitsville. I had heard a lot about Recess so I pulled in one afternoon on my way home from work to have a peek at the menu. The joint was closed, but I saw that the kitchen staff were doing prep work so I walked in the (unlocked) door. Everyone stared at me as if I were about to rob the place. Owner Greg Hardesty approached with a snooty "Can I HELP you?" I told him I'd been wanting to try the place and asked if he thought he could accommodate me and my very common diet. He seemed extremely unenthused about the idea and told me it would be "hard" (it wouldn't). So, let's see--he's uninventive, ungracious, and impolite. He's certainly well-poised to survive the Indy dining scene!
  • Nyuk nyuk
    Seems to me that the newly opened place is already turning some people off. Shocking. This place won't even exist a year from now.
  • Normally...
    Normally I would say that Alana's comment points to a restaurant with a death wish. However, since Recess' menu is so of the moment, some might say flighty or capricious, it probably is way more convenient in terms of prep time and ordering to know roughly how many people you expect. But I'll admit it kind of cuts against the grain when a restaurant that boasts of its dressed down inviting atmosphere looks down its nose at people who don't have a res. I love Greg's food and he hires professional staff, every now and then they verge on snooty, and that was okay at Elements and even H2O. But if his goal is great food, available without forethought or agonizing choices, the service principles are going to have to be WAY more 'customer is always right' than it was before. After all, if you've already made all their decisions for them, the customer will be judging everything from the moment they walk in. They need not worry about choice, only assessment. That's a fine line to walk.
  • Did the owner pay someone to write the reviews
    This is not a comment on the IBJ review; but rather, the ones underneath. My husband and I went there last night for an early dinner. The restaurant was deserted, but when they asked us if we had reservations, and we said no -- they acted like we were lucky to be accomodated. Note -- the restaurant was EMPTY. Then, we sat for 10 minutes without even a greeting, even though the restaurant was full of staff. Finally, we were handed the fixed price menu (sorry, I am not going to be pretentious with French), which was over $50 per person; certainly not the prices mentioned in reviews. The whole atmosphere seemed condescending and patronizing and we left -- as we did my wife overheard someone there say, 'good luck finding some place to eat'. We are both professional people and not the hicks that we seemed to be treated like --
    • Yay!
      I can't wait to try this place. I live in SoBro, I call it SoBro, I am SoBro. If you don't like it, go buy a condo off the Monon.
      • Kudos
        Great review. Made me laugh. Made me want to eat at Recess. Enables visualization of the building's exterior and interior. Encouraged me to be even more adventuresome and open minded when I explore new eating venues.
      • Terrific Addition to the Neighborhood
        Ever since Greg sold Elements, I've been waiting for him to open a new restaurant. The fact that it's in my neighborhood is even better. The food, the service, and the wine were all outstanding, and I'm looking forward to a return trip. The single menu concept is refreshing after a long day of work. It's like going over to a friends house for dinner -- if your friend is a gourmet chef.
      • One shot
        I fail to see how people can continue to submit "restaurant reviews" based on one visit to a restaurant. Also, I wish everyone would drop the "SoBro" thing. Please. It's embarrassing.

      Post a comment to this story

      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
      Subscribe to IBJ
      1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

      2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

      3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

      4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

      5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com