After our 10k state capital walk in Lansing that was broken by a good lunch at Meat BBQ and completed by a drenching rain, Nancy and I dried off and refreshed. The next morning we drove down to Indianapolis for our 32nd state capital walk.
My expectations for Indianapolis had been lowered by a college classmate who lives there, Susan Barrett (née Swingle). Susan made the current state of the downtown area seem pretty bad. As it turned out, Nancy and I were pleasantly surprised. Admittedly, our lunch at Shapiro’s put us in a positive frame of mind, but it was a pleasant walk. Much of the walk was along the White River and a canal lined by new townhouses, condominiums, and apartments, and there are the usual historic residential areas. The downtown area through which we walked is festooned with grand Paladian buildings. The national headquarters of the Shriner’s alone is worth the trip. There’s a lot to see.
I’d been impressed by how lively the downtown was when I was in Indianapolis coordinating a multi-state church arson investigation in the late ’90s (see here). Now, while downtown Indianapolis, like most cities’ downtowns, still bears some scars from the ((a) protests (b) riots: pick one) of last summer and the economic ravages of COVID lockdowns, there were a lot of people about. Comic Con Indiana, which had convened downtown, brought knots of superheroes and anime characters. They added a bit of the odd side, but it wasn’t nearly as weird as the time we ended up in a hotel in Chattanooga amid a Furry convention. The Comic Con people enlivened the streets, but the crowds mainly were more pedestrian pedestrians.
Nancy and I checked into our hotel, Le Méridien, and I’ll say right now that if you go to Indianapolis, that’s the place to stay. It’s a small hotel in an historic building, but our room was spacious, especially the bathroom. Note that the shower had more nozzles than the law allows. Do people really need a jet spray on their shins? Have I missed something all these years?
The room was very comfortable and stylish, and the staff members were very helpful. I retired to the bar to enjoy a cold drink while I sorted through the limited restaurant options available to someone who stumbled into town on a Friday evening without reservations. Le Méridien is next door to St. Elmo’s, a top steakhouse, but I didn’t feel like a big steak dinner and the all-but-mandatory St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail, and even less did Nancy. Why not eat here at the hotel restaurant, Spoke & Steele? Why not indeed? We reserved a table, and our shot in the dark proved a bulls eye.
Nancy started with a salad with bleu cheese, pistachios, and clementine segments. It blended well with a lemony vinaigrette and proved a nice start to the meal.
I ordered, as I do whenever possible, a salad Lyonnaise — frisée with jowl lardons, a beautifully poached egg — the white cooked through and the yolk warmed but not at all solidified. There were slivers of manchego and a vinaigrette with a touch of chili. What a treat!
For her entree, Nancy chose the pan seared salmon.
The salmon came with broccoli rabe, sweet peas, and some silky pureed potatoes. Nancy was very pleased with each element of the meal.
I ordered rockfish — known as striped bass away from the Chesapeake.
It has been roasted and was served over sautéed Swiss chard and mushrooms, and topped with a light cream sauce with a touch of mushroom. That fuzzy looking thing in the foreground is a caper berry, one of my favorite treats.
Both dishes were nicely prepared — cooked through but not at all dry. And each dish was well conceived, the fish paired thoughtfully with the sides.
As with the hotel, the restaurant service was at once professional but relaxed and friendly. Le Méridien is one of those rare places where everything works to relax and please you. Next time you’re headed to Indianapolis, book your stay at Le Méridien, and enjoy a meal at Spoke and Steele.
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