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Review: Field Brewing

Remember when opening a restaurant inside a grungy little remodel on an un-fancy side of town was a foreign concept? Now, everyone’s doing it, and a gleaming new arrival like Field Brewing, built from the ground up along a well-traveled stretch of burgeoning Westfield, emerges as some kind of cutting-edge business model.

If Field’s blocky slate-colored presence doesn’t slow the Hamilton County traffic buzzing along the town’s Main Street (would anything?), it at least provides a flash of modern architectural eye candy. Its exterior—all sheets of windows set into dark horizontal slats under a pitched metal roof—is so angular and crisp, it could be home to a reclusive record producer in Laurel Canyon, or a successful graphic designer, or anyone who wears a lot of black turtlenecks. It looks like an artist’s rendering of itself, and if you stand outside and peer in like an ax murderer, you can see all of its working parts.

Observe the clean-lined bar with the wooden tap pulls that spell out F-I-E-L-D and the sparkling silver brewing tanks glassed in behind it; the large letter board menu that fills a wall, featuring the day’s on-draft choices; the communal tables, of course; and the diners seated in sensible blond wood–and-metal chairs like the ones that a generation slightly older than Field’s target demo might remember from high school. They are eating bright roasted beets drizzled in goat-cheese vinaigrette and sprinkled with crushed pistachios; sticky confit chicken wings tossed in a sauce of mustard and Fresno peppers that renders maybe one piece in each batch violently spicy; and massive flat-patty burgers that drip with juice and housemade sauce. And beyond the counter where customers place their lunch orders, in a semi-open kitchen strung with stainless-steel cookery, James Beard–nominated head chef Alan Sternberg oversees the gastropub lineup, straight from his five-year post at the late Cerulean in downtown Indy.

Fresh starts are a theme here. The restaurant that opened in October sits on a parcel of land purchased a while back by Westfield residents Greg and Jackie Dikos. At first, they were not sure what to do with the property. He is an orthopedic surgeon, she works as a registered dietitian, and neither of them has ever operated a food establishment. So they decided to open a restaurant.

Westfield itself is on a roll, bolstered by the completion of the nearby 400-acre sports complex, Grand Park, and the once-sleepy town’s resulting growth spurt. The Dikoses took down two homes and a barn that previously occupied the three-quarters–acre plot where Field now sits. Jackie says the imminent widening of Main Street’s State Road 32 by two lanes in each direction would have eventually encroached on the property lines. “Those homes were going to come down, by either us or the road,” she says.

The roster of beers made on site range from the Shift Change IPA to the Field Harvest brown to last month’s Christmas-themed series of stouts. Head brewer Rian Umbach, a Cincinnati transplant, releases some nice one-offs incorporating natural ingredients, like fresh cranberries. Their lightest beer is simply named Our Lightest Beer. It’s a pilsner “for people who come in and ask, ‘What’s your lightest beer?’” Jackie says. “We don’t want anyone to be intimidated.”

Eventually, Field will encompass a craft distillery in a separate, equally simple and uncluttered building next door (following a three-year waiting period for the license). The restaurant already offers a surprisingly polished cocktail list for a place that also serves chili and makes UNO cards and crayons available. The dark but effervescent Amberleaf Trace, a rye whiskey sipper served in a delicate coupe glass, reveals layers of black pepper, amaro, and honey. The vodka-based Union Street contains green tea and rhubarb bitters, and the Vine Alley mixes Old Tom gin with elderflower and plum shrub—on-point mixology that hints at what Field will do with its own shelf of craft spirits down the road.

The food comes off as less restrained. Sternberg—who meticulously placed ingredients on an edible canvas at Cerulean, creating the closest thing to molecular gastronomy that Indianapolis has ever tasted—has loosened up. The roasted salmon sits atop a rustic curry stew of fingerling potatoes and sliced fennel that is rich and delicious to the last slurped spoonful. The roasted-squash-and-kale salad has a lot of moving parts, from the sweet slices of musky delicata squash to the eruption of nuts and pomegranate seeds on top, all wonderfully disjointed flavors that somehow work when placed together like this.

Roasted salmon sits on a deeply satisfying base of curried fennel and fingerling potatoes

The rosemary pork sandwich (with Swiss chard, butterkäse cheese, and thin slices of apple) and the chicken pastrami sandwich (the meat soaked overnight in the classic corned-beef brine and layered with Gruyère, pickled jalapeño, house giardiniera, and whole-grain mustard) strain against the wooden picks that hold their contents in check. Both are stuffed inside sourdough bread made with the brewery’s spent grain, sliced thick and toasted in clarified butter.

To get the most out of an appetizer of crispy lamb ribs that look like pot roast on a stick, you have to tug each bite off the bone like a feral dog. The ribs are smeared in spicy-tart chimichurri and cucumber yogurt—both essential condiments against the lamb’s fatty, earthy essence—which means things are going to get unavoidably but deliciously messy. I don’t what to think about how much chimichurri sauce had smeared on my face the evening I sat perfectly framed in one of those well-designed front windows, overlooking a slip of manicured lawn with outdoor furniture. A cute family played a game of bocce on the other side of the glass, and it occurred to me that maybe they were just as entertained by me as I was by them.

Parents themselves, the owners wanted their restaurant to be the kind of place where customers could enjoy a drink without having to leave the kids at home. That explains the children’s menu (an elevated one, with grilled salmon over rice among the options).

If that sounds like Field has a lot on its plate right now, don’t worry. Just like its design, the restaurant pulls it all off with minimum clutter.

Field Brewing
303 E. Main St.
317-804-9780

HOURS
Mon.-Thurs. 7a.m. – 9p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 7a.m. – 10p.m.
Sun. 10a.m. – 2p.m.

NEIGHBORHOOD
Westfield

VIBE
Suburban Gastropub

TASTING NOTES
Busy, hands-on dishes that pair well with the house beers.

MUST-ORDER
The crispy lamb ribs, a jumbled-up version of the roasted beets–and–goat cheese salad, and a Field Burger topped with both bacon and fried egg.

TAB
Starters $7–$13, sandwiches $9–$12, pastas $12–$16, entrées $19–$29

3-STAR RATING
★★

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