I wasn't worried about whether or not the food was going to be good. Former Bluebeard cooks Bryan Kanne and Justin Eiteljorge refer to themselves as "co-chefs" of the new venture. They also decided on "Alpine" as the descriptor for their German/Italian/Austrian/French blend of menu options.
I was one of a huge table of people who rudely descended on the new restaurant with our million-top of the hungriest people in Indianapolis. We literally ordered everything on the menu. Every. Single. Thing.
And we did not have one bad dish throughout the entire dinner. It's hard to say that one dish stands out above any of the others, though I preferred the beef tartare over the potatoes, the carrots over all the other veggie dishes, and the cavatelli over all the spaetzel and the gnocchi. That doesn't mean that ordering anything else on the menu besides our picks will get you a mediocre plate.
Vegetarian diners should get excited about this place, with an impressive and delicious lineup of meatless starters. My favorites were the perfectly light and tart beet salad and the rich rainbow carrots.
The only complaint of the group were the extremely high prices for the proteins. A "small" order of prime rib still clocked in at over $30 and came with four inch-wide slices of a perfectly-cooked piece of ribeye. It would have been enough for a pair of peckish meat eaters, but even though the meat was beautifully red and juicy with a nice crust, the price on the menu doesn't justify the portion size when the price per pound is just under $10 for good ribeye. Similarly, a half-chicken was just shy of $30, and while it was delicious, there is no logical reason to mark up chicken that much unless you're coating it with Nepalese hallucinogenic honey harvested by dangling a villager off of a cliffside.
The cocktails were really good, too, with a limited menu of tart cocktails that ran the gamut between sweet and fruity and nuanced and boozy. Ryan Gullett's program is limited, with only four on offer for now. To supplement, you can dip into their lineup of 12 local rotating beers or the wine list. And even though we didn't get to taste them, you should also know that they have a lineup of fancy snacks you can have if you just want a place to grab a drink and a small bite while you catch a show on Pioneer's live stage.
So this is me telling you to go and check it out, because it's full of people whose work you probably really liked when they worked at Bluebeard. You'll like what they're doing here too, as it's a little more relaxed and the vibe of the place is more venue-casual, so to speak. The menu is likely to evolve into an even better version of this first go, and the first go is really, really great. If you want to leave a snarky Yelp review, know that you're going to have to work hard to have a less than great experience.
Where: 1110 Shelby St.
Info: 986-6761, pioneerindy.com