My brain is a sieve when it comes to details of meals gone by. Was that black or green cardamom? Chive or cilantro?
All that changed the night I spent nearly five hours savoring 12 delicate courses at a private dinner at The Ripple Inn (929 E. Westfield Blvd., 317-252-2600) celebrating chef Charles Mereday’s longtime friend and vendor Farmer Lee Jones of the Chef’s Garden. As a former staffer at Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Gourmet, I’m no stranger to Farmer Lee Jones’s extraordinary collection of heirloom vegetables, herbs, and microgreens found in the world’s most celebrated restaurants (Charlie Trotter, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller, to name a few).
At The Ripple Inn, the long table of A-list guests included Greg Hardesty of Recess (4907 N. College Ave., 317-925-7529), Ian Harrison of Carnegie’s (100 W. North St., Greenfield, 317-462-8480), Tony Dee, chef of Eddie Merlot's (3645 E. 96th St., 317-846-8303), Charles Thomas, proprietor of Chateau Thomas Winery (6291 Cambridge Way, Plainfield, 317-837-9463), and chef Dan Dunville (formerly of Meridian).
Almost everything that landed on the table was a declaration. The meal immersed me in a total sensory fantasy. Chef Mereday’s culinary team (including Adam Waldrip, former chef at Glass Chimney) created dishes that truly honored the integrity of the ingredients—from a ceviche-style scallop (in its original shell) with citrus coriander blooms; a duet of veal sweetbreads and heartbreads with yellowfoot mushrooms and English peas; a chocolate Borscht with candied beets with a dollop of creme fraiche ice cream. To receive this same gastronomic experience, call ahead and ask that chefs Mereday and Waldrip decide the evening’s feast.