Holidays with the Bluebeard Crew
In every culture and family, we have them: those tried-and-true holiday recipes that are handed down and changed up by generations over the years. We wouldn't expect anything less from the owners of Bluebeard, the welcoming Southeast Indy restaurant where history is entwined with the here and now.
Every year, Bluebeard's chefs Abbi Adams and her partners Tom and Ed Battista, father and son, mark the holiday first as families. Then, they celebrate as a group, with an annual Christmas night tradition that started in the early days of their friendship. In fact, Bluebeard may owe its existence to a mutual trust solidified over many shared meals through the years.
Whether it's John's Adams (previous co-chef of Bluebeard) grandmother's traditional Christmas Eve oyster stew (kicked up a notch), Abbi's mother's holiday bread pudding recipe (with her own twist) or Tom's family standard of spaghetti and meatballs, holiday meals at these folks' houses are mouthwatering affairs. Every Christmas night, they get together for a pitch-in to share their Christmas dinner leavings – and judging from the sublime fare at Bluebeard, you can bet there's nothing left after that smorgasbord.
Respect for tradition is evident when you walk into Bluebeard in Fletcher Place, sunlight beaming through the painted windowpanes, the air scented with fresh bread from the in house bakery, Amelia's. The Adamses blend rustic Italian tastes with contemporary touches, resulting in inspired combinations like pork belly confit with collards, white beans and rosemary cornbread. History lives in the décor as well. Just like the recipes that bind families while undergoing various shifts through the years, the renovated 1924 warehouse housing the restaurant and bar is a classic.
Story was updated as John Adams is no longer a chef at Bluebeard.
"We repurposed as much of the building as we could and kept as much as we could," Tom says.
In the courtyard, guests can sit in the shade of a magnolia at a long table made from the trunk of an Indiana sycamore felled by lightning. The bar's boot rail is made from a piece of the interurban rail excavated when Virginia Street was torn up for the Cultural Trail. Antique typewriters give homage to native son Kurt Vonnegut: His 1987 novel inspired the restaurant's name. In all ways, this neighborhood establishment is deeply rooted in the place it finds itself.
Curious to see what the Bluebeard crew cooks for the holidays? We asked Bluebeard’s co-owners to share a few of their traditional Christmas favorites. Family food traditions are equally enduring, and the three recipes we feature here are no exception.