The devil is in the detail: Eggshell Bistro
Step inside Eggshell Bistro and it’s hard to miss the 100-year-old telephone on the pastry case. It’s one of the restaurant’s many handpicked details curated by Larry Hanes.
Hanes is Eggshell Bistro’s everything—owner, chef and designer. He has a background in graphic design and illustration and received his master’s degree from the world-renowned University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. And let there be no doubt—this background in design is the essence of his bistro.
“It’s a thing that a lot of designers talk about doing [opening a restaurant]. It incorporates a lot of different aspects of design, branding and advertising.”
With this in mind, Hanes’ bistro is brimming with just the perfect amount of eccentric, one-of-a-kind accoutrements, many of which are used on a daily basis in his kitchen.
Amongst his prized possessions is a Sunkist juicer he purchased for $10 in Cincinnati years ago that he says is now worth around $3,000. Once used to make fresh juice for his children at home, it now belongs to the bistro, where he uses it to provide his patrons with the best and freshest orange juice. There’s also a 1920s porcelain cheese cutter made in Cincinnati that Hanes claims works much better than current ones, and antique whisks he uses daily.
There’s a 1900s French, gas-powered crêpe maker bought from someone who said his great-grandfather determined it was the one item he couldn’t leave behind when he emigrated to the United States; Hanes plans to use this in house someday soon.
And then there’s the early 1900s Gonon-Gironde French chef’s knife, which Hanes can’t talk about enough. And for good reason. The feel of it in the hand is superb, making even a novice feel like they could create a masterpiece with the hand-forged virgin steel blade.
A host of eye-catching objets d’art surrounds these utilitarian, antique kitchen items. For example, a 1920s toothpick holder from a hotel in Nice, France; an antique mirror running the length of the back wall; a trophy for a fruit arrangement competition held in California; a Kyoto cold drip coffee maker; a vintage magazine stand; countless serving trays; a vintage coat tree; table legs from a speakeasy in upstate New York that weigh 82 pounds each; and all original signs and prints covering the walls. Everything has a story and everything belongs.
And while it seems Hanes opened his bistro as a place to showcase his obsession with design, he also cooks. And he cooks very well. Eggshell Bistro was named one of Indianapolis Monthly magazine’s top 10 best new restaurants in 2012. Hanes is not a professionally trained chef, and he attributes his knowledge of food to his upbringing. He grew up on what he calls a gentleman’s farm; his dad was a banker, and they had seven acres inside of a subdivision in southern Ohio. Their land had everything from chestnut trees to grapes, plus a full garden and cattle.
“My dad had good curiosity,” Hanes said, as he remembered eating “unusual” Asian vegetables and Limburger cheese as a child.
And as a college student, Hanes and other student artists would head to the library and research cookbooks to come up with a themed dinner night. Then, one student would host and plan every detail from the music to the menu.
As to Eggshell Bistro’s offerings, they’re as distinctive and fascinating as the scenery. When asked about why he chose the items on his menu Hanes said the goal is to “Not lose quality and maintain a realistic timeframe to create something for somebody. And to use the best ingredients I can.”
Hanes treats his menu much like he would an artist’s portfolio, mixing food together carefully, drawing from his childhood and college experiences, including his 19 years as a vegetarian. The food choices cover the globe—Moroccan, Spanish, Italian, Egyptian, French—and each dish is as detailed as his bistro’s space.
As to locally sourced ingredients, Hanes says he will definitely use local if it’s of superior quality. Currently, he works with Goose the Market for sausages and bacon, Rene’s Bakery and Brotgarten for breads, Bendwater Greens for microgreens and Spring Valley Farm for Amish, free-range eggs.
Let there be no doubt Hanes has created something special with Eggshell Bistro. It’s where Old World meets New and design and function work together.
If you’d like to know more about Larry Hanes and Eggshell Bistro, visit EggshellBistro.com. You can also call the bistro if you like. The 100-year-old phone is tied to Google and Hanes can listen to your message.
Eggshell Bistro is located in Carmel City Center, 51 W. City Center Dr., Carmel. Open W– F 7am–1pm, Sa and Su 7am–2pm. Closed M and Tu. 317.660.1616.