Saturday, March 15

Restaurant Review: Eddie Merlot's

(LtoR) Prime Ribeye Steak  and Florida Grouper with Citrus Glaze
Having never eaten at any of the Eddie Merlot's, including the one in Indy, (click here for current locations), I decided it was time to accept a long-standing invitation from Joseph Davey, GM and sommelier, to drop in for a restaurant review at Indianapolis' north side location. I knew there wouldn't be an issue with the customer service ~ we are talking about Davey after all. He is well known by customers, employees and industry insiders for his impeccable taste, customer service and attention to details.

That meant I could relax and concentrate more on cuisine, cocktails and wines. Valet service is available upoon arrival. Since great valet service is difficult to find, having customers sing the valet staff's praises without being asked was a five-star endorsement to me.

The restaurant's decor is grand without being pretentious ~ sweeping views of the dining area, French doors leading to outer rooms and a large bar/lounge area. This last detail is relevant to anyone wishing to relax without hearing little ones and preferring to sit in an adults-only section.
Sitting in the lounge, actually right at the bar, enabled me to get a good view of the tables while still being convenient to chat with the bartenders about cocktails. This was particularly of interest to me after judging the recent Northside Nights cocktail competition in which Merlot's took first in their category (Evan Williams) and second overall with Bourbon Blackberry Peppercorn Shrub.
(Note* First place overall went to Late Harvest Kitchen)

Ahi Tuna Wontons
Ahi Tuna Wonton appetizers started the meal and were full of flavor and had great texture compatibility between the tuna, Asian glaze and 'wonton' chip. I can easily see this as a great share-plate with a gal pal after work with salads and drinks in the summer. For a dinner appetizer, it worked very well ~ not heavy, just enough to whet the appetite. Lobster bisque was served, thick and rich, with a large lobster piece for good measure, rather than bits and pieces throughout.

I love salad.
I hate to make salad.
It's that simple.
It's that difficult ~ to find a truly great salad.
Romaine Waldorf Salad
The  Romaine Waldorf Salad (shown is the half order I was served) is worth the drive just for this dish. Simplistic and direct, crisp Granny Smith apple slices, halved grapes, candied pecans and Gorgonzola cheese are served over a Romaine lettuce wedge and drizzled with maple apple cider vinaigrette. I could seriously eat this several times a week.

Merlot's is known for great steaks and the one served was no exception. Bourbon-marinated prime rib eye, cooked to order (medium) perfectly, with French-fried onions and Parmesan truffle fries for me to sample. I actually would like to have seen a smoked paprika aioli dip with the fries just to take it up that extra notch.

The Florida Grouper with citrus glaze was served over spinach and roasted mushrooms. Finding great seafood in the middle of the nation is not always easy so this find was a pleasant surprise. The flaky meat of the fish, accompanied with the acid of the citrus glaze was great. Add in the roasted mushrooms with a slight hint of cayenne, and I was in food heaven. Another dish worth the drive.
Joseph Davey selecting wine

Wines served were St. M Riesling with the seafood and Torres Ibericos' Tempranillo (my new obsession) with the steak.

If you understand that all Rieslings are not sweet (where did that urban legend start, anyway?) then you will thoroughly enjoy the St. M version with seafood. It's crisp without making you pucker, light and refreshing, with a citrus essence about it.

In the wine trend world, Tempranillo is the new pink, which is the new black, which is... oh well, whatever. Try it. It is slightly deep without being too dark in personality, and bold without being cheeky. It works well with steaks, but you can also pair it up with lasagna and other tomato-based foods.

Chocolate pot de creme was served for dessert ~ anything else would have been anti-climatic. The rich flavor and creamy texture was a perfect ending and large enough (easily) for two to share.

Side notes:
If possible, take a look at the wine room ~ great selections at all price points and ask for recommendations from Davey, he is not a wine snob and enjoys chatting with customers.
Another thought I had while there is how perfect a location it would be for a monthly club or wedding rehearsal dinner.
Lastly, I will be returning to check out their Happy Hour for my Girls' Night Out Top 10 List ~ stay tuned for that, or join in on the fun ~

Bottom Line: Eddie Merlot's menu, service and quality ~ under the stewardship of Joseph Davey ~ ranks easily in the upper echelons for great food, client satisfaction and pleasant ambiance in the Indianapolis metro area.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a travel, food, wine and spirits columnist, freelance writer and photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic for Gotta Go. Catch her as Indy’s Personal Lifestyle Adviser on Indy Style, WISH8 (CBS) or FOX59 Morning News Show. Read Infused, her spirits and wine lifestyle column, at and Gotta Go is published on, and in magazines. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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