The official emblem on the side of Greenwood’s new City Center declares this Johnson County burb “The City of Pride & Progress,” a designation two local chefs took to heart when they started serving General Tso’s pig tails and foie gras with blackberry preserves right across the street.
Revery, their rambling 105-seater with three dining rooms, a bar, and an open prep area, took up residence in the historic Van Valer building at the corner of Main Street and Madison Avenue in late fall. The renovation of the window-wrapped Civil War–era building boasts enough exposed brick and black-washed ductwork to place this inspired collaboration of former Mesh on Mass executive chefs Mark Henrichs and Danny Salgado in the pantheon of modern-rustic beauties. Salvaged barn wood, weathered to a fine hillbilly patina, lines the wall just inside the entrance; the hostess stand sits behind an ancient baling press dug out of the basement; and servers dress the part in crisp denim aprons. Are we really in Greenwood?
That question is probably getting old for Henrichs (an alum of such culinary hallowed grounds as The Signature Room in Chicago) and Salgado (who also worked at The Signature Room as well as the now-shuttered Charlie Trotter’s, under the legendary chef who died in 2013). Their combined expertise could carry a restaurant in any of Indy’s more-established gourmet ghettos, let alone here in The City of Pride & Progress. Revery reveals its ambition in not-so-subtle ways—its obsession with swine and fine bourbon, for example. And offal-centric dishes (like roasted bone marrow with pickled red onions and silken chicken livers served with a tangy violet mustard in a deep-welled bowl, to be scooped out with the tip of grilled bread) take plenty of chances.
Parlor tricks aside, this bustling kitchen turns out the kind of star dishes one might expect from such a pedigreed staff.
An ever-changing menu has listed edgy novelties ranging from a rich, orzo-based Bolognese made of slow-cooked lamb’s neck to lobster fettuccine tangled with squid-ink pasta to a decadent pork-belly Benedict offered alongside pickled-pear Bellinis during Sunday brunch. “We want to bring fine dining to Greenwood,” our server explained as she brought out a chicken-apple sausage dressed with sweet broccoli salad at lunch. They are also taking some playful pokes at fine dining, like flash-freezing bowls of flavored popcorn with nitrogen so that puffs of smoke shoot from your mouth and nose when you take a bite. That’s molecular gastronomy with a Hoosier twang—and the most weirdly delicious thing I’ve put in my mouth since Pop Rocks. A starter cleverly named The Best Part of French Onion Soup consisted of just toasted croutons and melted cheese, and Revery’s take on the poutine trend took the form of a fried tortilla bowl of fries topped with Italian-beef gravy, garlic aioli, and “ballpark cheese” (a tragically overwrought combination, proof that some things are better in concept than reality).
Parlor tricks aside, this bustling kitchen turns out the kind of star dishes one might expect from such a pedigreed staff, including a good old-fashioned short rib plunked down on sweet-potato puree, like the most tender hunk of potroast. A sliced tri-tip is served steak-frites style on a plate crowded with fries, a pat of garlic butter melting into the fibers of the meat.
I was not surprised to see pickled beets on the menu. Dirt candy has become such a staple at trendy restaurants that I have heard people actually groan when I (one of the few diners left in the world who still gets excited about beets) order it. Good thing I didn’t have to share my beets with anyone at Revery—because these were fresh perfection, glistening bulbs arranged so adorably in an asymmetrical white bowl amid gumball-sized scoops of goat cheese and slivered almonds that I would have sworn they had Anne Geddes back there plating the food. Each bite combined the earthy sweetness of the beets, the tartness of the goat cheese, the slightest nutty crunch, and a pungent whack of wasabi cream. If ever there were a version that could redeem the honor of this tired old chestnut of an appetizer, this would be the one. “Pride & Progress” should never get in the way of perfecting a humble favorite.
299 W. Main St., Greenwood, 317-215-4164, reverygreenwood.com