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No. 8 — Divvy

71 W. City Center Dr., Carmel, 317-706-0000, divvycarmel.com

Using the term “American tapas,” the airy, modern eatery that brought shared plates to Carmel City Center steers a course straight through all of the major food trends. The cured pork fetish is represented in wonton-wrapped pigs in a pocket; andouille sausage with apple butter; and little hunks of pork belly sauced with cranberry-cherry chutney on bamboo picks. You will find comfort food with a swagger: lobster-flecked mac ’n’ cheese; creamed corn that has been bruleed and topped with red sea salt; and fried biscuits with apple butter and mango marmalade. Also, clever updates of classic cocktails (Elderflower Gimlet and Maker’s Mark Maple Manhattan) and far-out meats (lamb latkes, buffalo burgers, ostrich tartare). Through it all, Divvy has loads of fun with the sharables theme. Some of the small plates are eloquent. Some are a little weird. All of them are playful.

Owner Kevin Rider—a champion of the Carmel Arts & Design District who got in on the ground level in 1998 when he opened Woodys Library Restaurant on Main Street—joins forces with his wife, Richelle, a former chef at Scholars Inn, at this wildly popular newcomer.

>> SIMILAR TASTES

Small-plate dining has taken off in Indy, but people have been sharing plates for a while here. They just called it “ordering off of the bar menu.” Meridian Restaurant & Bar (5694 N. Meridian St., 466-1111, meridianonmeridian.com) has an intriguing lineup of nibbles such as roasted beets and spiced popcorn > The happy hour menu at The Oceanaire (30 S. Meridian St., 955-2277, theoceanaire.com) ranges from crab cake bites to luscious shrimp and grits > The wafer-thin flatbreads at Palomino Restaurant & Bar (49 W. Maryland St., 974-0400, palomino.com) pair nicely with GNO beverages.

>> SIDE STORY: The Corn Creme Brulee at Divvy

Owner Kevin Rider and his wife, Richelle, spent years traveling the country and eating at restaurants. The result is the Divvy menu, a condensed version of all of their favorite dishes that they sampled during their travels. The creamed corn brulee, in which a ramekin of jalapeño-spiked creamed corn is sprinkled with sugar and torched on top, is a marriage between a dish they tried at a funky small-plate restaurant in Chicago and a jalapeño creamed corn recipe that Richelle served at Scholars Inn.

Photo by Tony Valainis.

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue.