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10-01: Great concept poorly executed

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The not-so-savory meatloaf. Photo by Mark Lee.
  • The not-so-savory meatloaf. Photo by Mark Lee.

If we could award stars for ambition and concept, this smartly-appointed eatery in the heart of Broad Ripple would easily earn a four star rating. Unfortunately, however, we have to judge a place on its execution, and it's in this department that 10-01 Food and Drink falls short.

For the past few years there's been a welcome resurgence in comfort food. This trend began in Europe, where chefs started to rediscover their grandmothers' old recipes and techniques. Back came cassoulet, slow-cooked shanks of various beasts, lots of offal and innards. In the right hands, these simple dishes can become objects of wonder.

10-01 attempts to recapture the past by offering comfort food with a "unique culinary twist." I'm not sure what the twist is, but if it's a matter of leaving out the salt and pepper, then the kitchen has triumphed spectacularly. We all know that comfort food can be a little salty, fatty and sweet. These are the flavors and textures that practically define the genre in its traditional setting. To put a modern spin on things by delivering food that is so under-seasoned as to be devoid of flavor is somewhat missing the point. Yes, it might be unique, but is it interesting, innovative or just displaying a lack of experience?

On a recent visit, I failed to enjoy a savory meatloaf sandwich ($10) precisely for the reason that it wasn't. Similarly, my wife's outside-in burger ($9) was aesthetically something of a mess, and tasted as if it were made from inexpensive supermarket-bought beef, with a grainy texture, no char and again, no flavor. The egg buns were quite good, but they were probably purchased.

A dish of corn clam fritters was again unimpressive with its stodgy composition, and a side dish of sweet potato French fries was bizarrely seasoned with what tasted like cinnamon sugar. Sweet potatoes don't really need much additional sugar: their name should be a bit of a giveaway. The one redeeming dish of the meal was the toasted jalapeno corn bread with deep-fried bites of brie, served with a house-made cranberry chutney. This dish was sweet, savory and a touch salty, with nicely contrasting textures.

On another positive note, 10-01 makes a game effort to use locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. The menu could perhaps be more explicit about its sources, as this seems to be an area of interest for so many diners. With a number of excellent local brews and an interesting cocktail list, the restaurant more than makes up with its drink selection what it lacks (just for the moment, I hope) in the food department.

The service staff at 10-01 is attentive and friendly, but the attention to detail, such as the bussing of tables or cleaning up after diners, left a bit to be desired.

I'm convinced that with a bit of care and attention, 10-01 could become a thoroughly decent restaurant, perhaps even a destination. Right now I'd recommend it more for drinks and people watching.

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