It’s one thing to open a restaurant from scratch. To transform a popular haunt known more for its drinking scene into a bona fide supper club with serious comfort-food cred is another feat altogether. In late 2016, that’s exactly what Usual Suspects owner Bill Ficca did when he oversaw a complete renovation and overhaul of his Broad Ripple standard (which he owns in a partnership with the owners of Delicia and Northside Social) into a sleek, subway-tiled space with one of the neighborhood’s best menus. He got a little help in the form of Castleton’s Turf Catering, which smokes most of The Vanguard’s meats and assists with some dinner prep, difficult in The Vanguard’s decidedly modest kitchen. This means that plenty of talented cooks have a hand in knockout appetizers such as burrata with bits of crispy prosciutto and a drizzle of pistachio oil. Pimento cheese fortified with ham, boiled eggs, and mustard seed could be a perfect late-night snack with a glass of wine. An unassuming mixed-greens salad comes tossed with avocado, shaved parsnips, grapefruit supremes, and chopped almonds, and a bracingly fresh panzanella salad with ancho chile–rubbed ribs competes for attention in a refreshing spin on the “upscale smokehouse” fare that has helped this reimagined spot live up to its name.
6319 Guilford Ave., 317-254-1147, vanguardindy.com