One of my best and longest friends moved to Indiana (the state!) a few years ago. Last weekend I visited her for some QT, and we planned a special dinner out to celebrate our combined birthdays (a day late for her; a few weeks early for me). Beth chose the Cerulean Restaurant, which is located in an adorable little area on Winona Lake.
Of course, I scoped the restaurant in advance and was incredibly impressed by the beverage menu, which featured well-curated craft beer, liquor, wine and cocktail lists. Beth had recommended the restaurant’s beef entrees as well as the sushi from her own experiences.
First, of course, was cocktails. Beth is pregnant, and the bartender kindly mixed up their Cranberry Thyme Fizz without booze, while I started with the Corsair, made with North Shore Aquavit, ginger Kombucha and lemongrass.
From the multi-tiered menu, Beth and I selected salads, plus a chicken tapas to share.
Salads were a side-appropriate $5. I love the beet puree and vinaigrette but could have lived without the rye crumble.
The chicken tapas was rather glorious. Perfectly cooked so that it was break-apart moist, and the caperberries and dill cream sauce added a lovely texture and tang. If you were looking for a light dinner, this and one of the salads could be a nice pairing as a meal.
Beth had been craving The Cerulean’s short ribs, so naturally that was her entree of choice.
And it did not disappoint. The meat was tender and delicious. I opted for the sablefish, which I discovered is also known as black cod.
The sablefish was tender and rather mild. the pancetta added some saltiness while the mushrooms and leeks were a lovely complement. The squash cake was sweeter than expected, and the goat cheese added a richness to bites, at times overpowering, but overall the dish was fantastic.
Since we were celebrating both of our birthdays, our server kindly offered us our choice of house-made gelato or sorbet to complete our meal. The dessert menu itself was difficult to turn down, but we smartly opted for the complimentary two scoops rather than over-stuff ourselves.
I chose the Nitro Express, which was made with a milk stout and espresso gelato, while Beth had the citrus and fennel sorbet. Both absolutely delicious.
The most surprising thing about our visit to Cerulean was that as we were finishing our dinner, almost like clockwork, the entire restaurant cleared out — and it was only 9:30 p.m. We contemplated getting a drink at the bar afterwards but no one was there!
Instead, we went to the nearby Boathouse and had a beer — Three Floyds for me; Nonalcoholic Coors for Beth — before heading home.
In warmer months, Cerulean also features The Garden, outdoor seating with its own small plates and cocktails menu. I’m looking forward to check that out on a future visit, as well.