Spoke & Steele

An airy, modern den of whitewashed brick walls and curved banquettes, Le Meridien’s centerpiece restaurant serves as the first point of contact for the downtown boutique hotel, part of the international brand’s luxury 2014 revamp of the historic Canterbury Hotel. Its designers focused on Danish minimalism and a sleek motorsports theme, lavishing the charge-it-to-my-room set with sexy leather seating, chrome accents, and a private dining room in honor of steely-eyed race enthusiast Steve McQueen. So it’s no surprise that Park City–transplant executive chef Tyson Peterson sees Midwestern “bespoke food” through the same extravagant lens. That vision has included exquisitely marbled dry-aged Duroc pork chops, slow-cooked Kona snapper, and a hunk of crispy bass supported by charred-corn pudding, with marinated Brussels-sprout leaves and tomatoes adding an extra bit of acidity to the sweetness. Down-market hits like the Naughty Grl’d Cheese layered with fig marmalade, pickled red onions, and a swipe of salty nduja are made for bar noshing.

TIP: For pure gawking pleasure, the trek to the restroom, tucked deep inside the luxury hotel, is worth the trip.

DON’T MISS: The Nugs, a shared plate of chili-glazed meatloaf balls.

PREVIOUS MENTIONS: Best New Restaurants 2015, Best New Bars 2015

123 S. Illinois St., 737-1616, spokeandsteele.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.