No one tells us what to eat—except Greg Hardesty, the Recess chef-owner who has been crafting a prix-fixe menu at his SoBro mainstay since 2010. Thankfully, it’s easy to put your trust in Hardesty’s cooking; the veteran toque usually delivers across every category of his nightly four-course lineup, mastering everything from velvety turnip soup to gorgeous slabs of flatiron steak to smoked-maple cheesecake so light it practically floats off the plate. So when the veteran chef absorbed his adjoining Room Four eatery into Recess for additional seating and freshened the bill of fare with raw-bar selections, longtime patrons of both restaurants were understandably skeptical. But we know better than to doubt Hardesty. The savvy chef has managed to maintain his inventive one-meal/one-price format, while getting longtime customers to take their forks into uncharted waters.

TIP: Go big or go home. The wine pairings (with smaller pours complementing each course) are worth the splurge.

DON’T MISS: The shrimp cocktail, simply presented with crackers and Hardesty’s zesty sauce.

PREVIOUS MENTIONS: Best Restaurants 2010–2011, 2013, 2014; Best New Restaurants (Room Four) 2012

4907 N. College Ave., 925-7529, recessindy.com

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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.