No Blues for Cerulean
Since its opening in November, Cerulean has added color to Indy's dining scene with modern Midwestern offerings.
But it has also been a vibrant addition to CityWay, the urban neighborhood going up at South and Delaware streets, southeast of the Circle. Cerulean's sleek dining room is in the ground floor of the Alexander, a four-star hotel in the development.
There, chef and owner Caleb France and his crew strive to tell a story with their food, with whimsical and striking presentations on each plate. The restaurant's sharable small dishes and entrees often star Indiana lamb, pork, beef, duck and bison.
Though the restaurant is France's first in Indianapolis, he also has Cerulean and Cerulean Garden, which is open seasonally, both in Winona Lake near Warsaw. Here, France sounds off on his new Indy venture:
What's the story behind the names of your restaurants?
Cerulean is my wife's favorite color in the Crayola box! We always thought it would be a great name for a restaurant.
The local dining scene has become so savvy and diverse; how do you cater to different appetites and styles of eating to give customers what they want?
We're big on "coursing." Our menu is divided into different courses on each page to let customers create exactly the kind of dining experience they want to have. You can come in and have a leisurely three-hour meal with multiple courses, or you can just stay on the "bites" page with items that cost around $3 and $4 and have a cocktail for a quick happy hour.
What dishes are your most popular so far?
Definitely our corn macaroon "bite" with pork belly, smoked cheddar and arugula for $3. And people are going crazy about our sweet potato soup with vanilla bacon and a nutmeg-thyme cracker.
Will your menu change seasonally?
At minimum. Maybe more often.
What's your take on drink offerings?
Our bar program focuses mainly on handcrafted cocktails. We work with small dis- tillers like Journeyman (Three Oaks, Michigan), Willett (Bardstown, Kentucky) and North Shore (Lake Bluff, Illinois), and every cocktail we serve has housemade ingredients in it, such as mint foam, jalapeño lime syrup and drinking vinegars for shrubs.
How did you land at the Alexander hotel?
When we decided to start looking around for a location in Indy, I envisioned us in a historic building or maybe on Mass. Ave. in a small, romantic space. [When we toured] CityWay project, my first thought was that it was exactly the opposite of what we had in mind. But the more we learned about the focus on the arts, the up-and-coming area, the boutique feel – we realized it all meshed perfectly with our beliefs and the way we do business. Winona Lake is really an arts community as well, so it felt like a good fit. We were the first CityWay business to open.
What are your plans for the restaurant in the coming months?
We've built an area we call our "food lab" that extends into the dining room, and we use it to play around with different cooking techniques and preparations. Our pantry chefs are working out there all the time, and customers can actually come up and talk to them or ask questions. I'd love to see that continue to evolve in new directions to educate our customers about what happens in back of house, and also to challenge ourselves as chefs.
Details: Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. 339 S. Delaware St.; 317-870-1320; CeruleanRestaurant.com