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Introducing Bar One Fourteen

Indy may be late to the speakeasy scene. But leave it to Martha Hoover and the Patachou crew to transform the former Gelo spot adjacent to Napolese on 49th Street into Bar One Fourteen (114 E. 49th St., 317-946-0114), a wee cufflink box of throwback nightclub finery that will have you wishing you’d worn your ascot. Termed a “microbar” and “listening space,” this thick-curtained, candlelit 16-seater is open  three nights a week, Thursday through Saturday, and reservations are a must. Snag one, and you’ll be richly rewarded by some of the most intimate, chummy service and decidedly proper cocktails served up in elegant vessels. None arrive more regally than the bar’s take on a mai tai, brought out in a copper-colored stainless steel pineapple with a metal straw. Also hip for sipping are the bracing Blood Orange Paloma, served in an embossed tumbler, and the Maestro, a balanced, not-too-sweet mingling of bourbon and amaretto with passionfruit juice and lemon. It may make you want to conduct along with the albums spinning on the record player at the bar.
Peckish? Bar One Fourteen’s menu is just half a dozen items long. Nonetheless, executive chef David Hoover, who got some culinary schooling in France last summer, has some fun retro tricks up his sleeve. Even without a real kitchen, Hoover is able to whip up some luxe plates, from a delectable creamy ramp dip with perfectly crisp house potato chips to a seasonal plate of morels, English peas, and a runny yolk. Order his “Fancy AF” burger, and he’ll whip out the blowtorch to sear a decadent hunk of meat with plenty of gooey cheese and the requisite pickles on a butter-drenched bun. It’s a delectable high-low joke that’s served both in a foil wrapper like at your favorite drive-thru and on a silver platter. Perhaps nothing is as visually stunning—and as wildly creative—as Hoover’s platter of crudités, presented atop crushed ice. Featuring everything from sugar snap peas dressed lightly with carotene butter to celery sticks compressed with jalapeno and gin to rainbow carrots dolloped with pesto made from their tops, this is a fantastic and fresh dish to share with the table, especially when accompanied by thick slabs of “Sam’s sourdough” slathered in Hoover’s own homemade house butter. If the drinks and the savories don’t have you too woozy and sated, a more-than-generous dollop of dark, bittersweet chocolate mousse, served up from a footed silver bowl, comes layered with marshmallow cream, bits of hazelnut brittle and thinly sliced kumquat, a contemporary treatment that shows Hoover’s experience in his mother’s kitchens while not straying too far from the classic eats you might have supped on back when Sinatra was still singing and low-lit, white tablecloth clubs weren’t a wink but the order of the day.

 

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.
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