Since January, Indianapolis Monthly has been following the progress of Bluebeard (653 Virginia Ave.). So this past Friday, our forks were at the ready for the restaurant’s soft opening. Fans of Abbi Merriss Adams and John Adams were happy to see the pair back in the kitchen (right behind the bar), plating everything from white-bean salad with chorizo, zucchini, and radicchio fleur to a sharable whole snapper with house giardiniera.
The back of the house seemed unusually cool and collected for a first night of table service with a packed dining room, bar area, and outdoor courtyard. Service was on the slow side, but that’s expected for a soft opening. We all agreed the service team was extremely thoughtful and professional. (We recognized familiar faces from R Bistro, Bazbeaux, and Dorman Street.) The Bluebeard team knew what they were doing on the hiring side.
The opening menu featured seasonal Italian-inspired dishes, broken out by size. The Snacks section included house bread with whipped mortadella, anchovy butter, and roasted garlic oil as well as oysters with a peach prosecco mignonette. The elk and pork salami, duck rillettes, and house ricotta stood out on the Cheese and Charcuterie columns. Going from small to large, we started with the light and bright peach and tomato panzanella and moved onto the spaghetti with creme fraiche, Parmesan, and lemon. To share, we ordered up one big, meaty grilled pork chop for the table. The hulking juicy chop came with a garnish of collared greens and bacon and had the perfect amount of acid from the mustard and balsamic. The finale was chocolate and hazelnut goodness cake with semifreddo. The semifreddo was outstanding, with a light and airy (mousse-like) texture and had a tremendous amount of flavor.