Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review by Dustin Heller (find him on Instagram)
What’s your go-to place for a nice evening out or a special occasion in downtown Indy? With so many great choices, it’s often difficult to decide. For me, I’m looking for a place that has a wide variety of menu items, uses locally sourced products in its dishes and has a track record of excellence. The spotlight this week is shining on a European-influenced restaurant and bar that meets all of these criteria.
Palomino is located in the heart of the Wholesale District at 49 West Maryland Street and has been serving the downtown foodie crowd for nearly 20 years. This not only speaks to the quality of the restaurant, but to the relationship it has with the city of Indianapolis and its residents.
The atmosphere and vibe at Palomino are downright swanky, from the gorgeous artwork hanging on the walls to the easy listening music playing in the background. The open pizza area with the built-in brick oven serves as a focal point of the enormous dining room while the well-lit bar might just be the highlight of the entire restaurant. Not to be outdone is the outdoor patio that rests on pretty much the busiest intersection in the city. I already miss the warm weather and patio season!
As I mentioned in the opening, Palomino’s menu is inspired by European cuisine with Italian, Spanish and Mediterranean influences. The menu has a wide variety of items from artisan pizzas and locally sourced pastas to high-end steaks and seafood. It’s safe to say there is something for everyone on the menu. Another thing that I personally love is the fact that an upscale restaurant takes the time and effort to support the local community and source many of its items from local farmers and purveyors. This support of Indy makes me a proud supporter! Now that I’ve told you how broad the menu is, let me make things a little easier for your next trip by offering up four “can’t miss” items from the vast menu.
Asiago-Almond Crusted Scallops: I’m a sucker for fresh seafood, and a perfectly cooked scallop is the way to my heart. These scallops are not only plump and juicy, they’re engulfed in an out-of-this-world Asiago and toasted almond crust. One bite into these beauties and you’ll understand why I fell in love. The scallops are served with a lemon asparagus risotto and garnished with a lemon beurre blanc. Beurre blanc translates to “white butter” and is a classic butter sauce in French cuisine. Bon Appétit!
Roasted Garlic with Cambozola: I don’t know about you, but I love secrets…and I’m about to let you in on a little secret about Palomino. The roasted garlic with cambozola appetizer is not on the menu (shhh!), but it’s a favorite of the regulars. It’s sort of one of those unspoken things where the server will give you a look and then nod in approval. It’s kinda like being welcomed into a secret society. Maybe that’s dramatizing it a bit (or a lot), but I say all this so you won’t forget about it the next time you’re at Palomino (remember, it’s not on the menu). They take their thin and crispy, brick oven pizza crust and brush it with sun-dried tomato and garlic bruschetta oil. This is delicious in and of itself, but it’s served with oven-roasted garlic spread, sweet tomato chutney, Cambozola (brie-style blue cheese) and Chevre (goat cheese). You can thank me later, but don’t tell anyone you heard it from me.
Ragù Di Carne: You have to admit, that sounds much more elegant than “meat sauce.” Ragù di carne is Italian for meat sauce, but this dish is much too sophisticated to be labeled meat sauce. We wouldn’t want to insult the pasta. Speaking of which, the pasta used in this dish is a nice pappardelle prepared al dente. Just wait til you see what they pair with this pasta: braised beef, red wine demi-glace, Parmigiano Reggiano, cream, and burrata on top. If that doesn’t get you excited, I’m going to have to ask for your “foodie card” back.
Orange Ricotta Donuts: Donuts are sort of the “in” thing right now for fine dining establishments. To be completely honest, I’m usually not a fan. I had this mentality when I was served the orange ricotta donuts at Palomino, but I changed my mind instantly. My biggest complaint about upscale donuts is that they’re just not special. Well, let me tell you that these donuts ARE special! They’re made with sugar-dusted gluten-free dough with a hint of orange zest and served with housemade raspberry sauce and warm Nutella for dipping. When the servers asks if you’d like the full order or the half order, you know what to say!