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Second Course with Plat 99

Sunsets over downtown’s southern skyline never look so good as when you gaze upon them with a Corpse Reviver in your hand at The Alexander hotel’s second-story Technicolor dream bar, Plat 99. A host of chefs conspired on the original 2013 menu, including Eli Laidlaw, who worked his way up the line until he went solo in a celebrated stint at the short-lived Nourish last summer. This May, he returned to a newly created sous chef position with the charge to change the bar’s winter menu “as fast as you can.” Laidlaw did just that and more, adding new seasonal produce and innovative items, such as a scallion pancake rolled from semolina focaccia dough and burrata made with Traders Point Creamery cheese curd. “We still get mostly hotel guests coming in,” Laidlaw says, “but we’re trying to make Plat 99 a restaurant in its own right.”

Laidlaw has pushed most dishes beyond “small plates” status, especially the Cuban sandwich with citrus-braised pork and smoked sweet potatoes. Hearty chilaquiles verde, inspired by his line cook days at Recess and Room 4, employ the same slow-cooked pork in a broth enriched with charred corn, black beans, and guajillo aioli. And he channels his pastry chef skills and love of nut flours in a peach “cobbler” that merges a snickerdoodle blondie with buttermilk ice cream and seasonal fruits. 333 S. Delaware St., 317-624-8200, 

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.