From the starchy simplicity of creamed corn bruleed in its own little baking dish to elaborate “Rabbit Food” like sea-salted baby bok choy grilled and drizzled with just a trace of lemon vinaigrette and an edamame saute spiked with lime and pepitas, the sweeping range of fare at Divvy is a testament to the chef’s clever streak. What has surprised us recently at the highly polished shared-plates emporium, though, is the technical precision with which the kitchen has delivered the likes of Porterhouse Picks (skewered medium-rare strips topped with steak sauce and cippolini onion rings) and seared sesame tuna in a Thai-chili glaze, dusted with crushed wasabi peas (pictured). Even the tender-crisp sweet-potato fries arrive in a wee metal basket with maple-bourbon gastrique for dipping. None of which should detract from owners Kevin and Richelle Rider’s original plan to give Carmel’s blossoming Arts & Design District a fun place to nosh and explore a rambling, temptingly cryptic menu of plates described in lowercase letters. The restaurant might have gotten serious about the food, but eating it—in a dining room that looks like Alice in Wonderland’s SoHo loft—is still seriously fun. 

SAMPLE SIPS: The bar offers three-pour “Taster Tours” of bubbles, white, red, and port. 

GET A SITTER: Divvy is a 21-and-over establishment.

PREVIOUS MENTION: Best New Restaurants 2012

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

See all 25 Best Restaurants here.

This article appeared in the May 2014 issue.