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When Caleb France opened Cerulean in 2012, the high-concept stunner pioneered a new and adventurous way of dining in Indy—one where the colorful burst of ingredients on your plate could rival the beauty of the contemporary artwork hanging in the adjoining Alexander hotel. The restaurant (which tucks a section of its dining room inside a bent-wood sculpture) quickly became known for its sense of adventure, serving oddities like buffalo mousse. In 2014, France handed the kitchen over to Mesh alum Alan Sternberg, who has managed to tame the wild menu without compromising its modern edge. The 29-year-old chef balances bold and familiar textures with precision—draping charred octopus over piles of tender roasted carrots; swiping apple mustard on a plate of cubed corned beef in a halo of creamy polenta, with a dusting of crumbled caraway sable; and working magic with pork, plunging chops into sweet-and-smoky tomato broth or deepening the flavor of a tenderloin with black-garlic vinaigrette.

TIP: Dessert is a must—even if it’s just to lay eyes on the gorgeous work of pastry chef Pete Schmutte. Every treat looks like a little edible Picasso.

DON’T MISS: A side of crispy Brussels sprouts with maple gastrique and house pancetta.

PREVIOUS MENTIONS: Best Restaurants 2013, Best Restaurants 2014

339 S. Delaware St., 870-1320,

See all 25 Best Restaurants here.

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.