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Road Trip: C3 in Bloomington

Renwick Village, a tidy complex of brownstones and upscale homes on Bloomington’s east side, is more reminiscent of Hamilton County’s gated communities than of a crunchy college town. But there, C3 (named for both its plot number and its tag line, “Crafted Cocktails + Cuisine”) offers an elegant departure in its drink selections and a succinct menu of small-plate dishes with Indiana farmstead ingredients.
Local microbrews are available, but the mixologists at the quartz-topped bar are happier to shake up complex cocktails. An early favorite, the Rye Be Bitter, whirled rye gin with aromatic Aperol and orange cream bitters into a restrained, not-too-sweet elixir that paired nicely with crab-and-corn hushpuppies, a standout on the seasonally changing menu of flavorful but sometimes heavy fare.
Lettuce wraps filled with tuna and mango salsa came drizzled with a tangy lime cream sauce that, while tasty, overpowered the lightly seared tuna. Generous sweet-potato skins topped with Gunthorp Farms chicken were anything but finger food and seemed a bit uneven, with too much sweet potato left inside the skin. Lighter and more balanced were quinoa-and-corn cakes garnished with sweet, fresh-picked cherry tomatoes—a refreshing change from standard college-town grub (and served up in a setting as welcoming to the well-heeled alum as to the discerning undergrad). 1505 S. Piazza Dr., Bloomington, 812-287-8027, c3bloomington.com

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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