Restaurant Reviews --> Joseph Decuis
Great food and Art on Wheels
The Restaurant at Joseph Decuis
Even more impressive than the Inn is the restaurant that occupies three buildings on Main Street. When we arrived at 7:15 on Saturday evening, the place was bustling with activity with almost every table taken. The restaurant has four dining areas. The first room you enter is called Cafe Creole and is dominated by the large open kitchen at the back. That was where we dined and we found it to be a very comfortable room, with the tables well spaced and walls covered with some very nice original art work. A door near the kitchen takes you next door to the Club Creole, which is located in the former State Bank of Roanoke. This more formal dining room has bright yellow walls, dark woodwork, more original art and a long antique bar. Good use has been made of the former bank vaults by turning them into a wine cellar and cigar humidor. The Cafe Creole is flanked on the other side by the Conservatory, a glass-enclosed dining room filled with greenery and a courtyard for al fresco dining in the warmer months. A courtyard behind looked very inviting and would certainly be our choice on a warmer evening.
The menu was extensive and filled with some very tempting items. Appetizers ranged from $10 for the Duck Spring Rolls to $26 for the seared foie gras on five-spice French toast. Soups and salads ranged from $8 for the gumbo du jour to our favorite, the orchard harvest salad at $12. Eight entrées graced the January menu ranging from $24 to $38. It was all I could do not to order the Braised Colorado Lamb Shank, but since Linda had her heart set on the six-course Chef's Tasting Menu, I followed suit.
Throughout the evening, the service provided by the wait staff was as professional as you would expect in New York or Chicago. Our waiter was very efficient, while remaining pleasantly unobtrusive, and courses were delivered to tables by a swarm of staff the moment they appeared on the ledge of the open kitchen.
The wine list is extensive comprising over 500 selections and more than 4,000 bottles. And, the good news is... it is very fairly priced, hovering at about twice retail and substantially less on many higher-end wines. We found the Chappellet Signature Cabernet at $95 (WG Price $47), the Nickel & Nickel Sullenger Cabernet $140 (WG Price $79) and finally our pick, the Two Hands Brave Faces Grenache Shiraz at $49 (WG Price $29). By fine dining standards, they were an amazing value. By comparison the "by the glass" program was a little disappointing because of its brevity with only five white and six red selections. They definitely seem to want to sell wine by the bottle. And what we thought about the list was confirmed from their receipt of multiple years of the Wine Spectator awards.
We began with glasses of the Prum Riesling Kabinette that paired beautifully with a first course of curried yellow bell pepper bisque that was presented in a demitasse cup with a swirl of orange-infused olive oil. It also complemented the appetizer, a five-spice seared diver scallop on wasabi mashed potatoes with a black truffle yaki sauce. We had no idea what yaki was but the sauce was delicious, very rich, with a touch of tarragon, and it really set off the tender scallop. I later used Google to discover that yaki is a word used on Japanese menus to indicate grilled or grilling. I suppose that if you're going to prepare dishes this complicated, the name should should be as exotic as the dish.
The Orchard Harvest salad arrived about the same time as the Two Hands Brave Faces Grenache Shiraz and we finished our Riesling as we enjoyed the truly wonderful amalgamation of greens, blue cheese, apples and glazed walnuts with white balsamic vinaigrette....very nice. Then came course four, Polenta con Arogosta, poached lobster, corn and rosemary in a lobster polenta. A nice dish, not as rich as it sounds, that worked surprisingly well with the ultra-ripe Grenache Shiraz... or maybe we were just really ready for some red wine.
The entrée, on the other hand, could not have been a better match for the wine. The Wagyu "Kobe" Beef Filet was served with a truffled mushroom ragout and really tiny chestnut, honey-glazed baby Brussells sprouts. The beef was excellent, perfectly medium-rare and almost fork tender. Unfortunately, the only failing of the evening was the kitchen's timing of the last dish... after the flawless pace of the first four dishes there was an interminable wait for the entrée.
Their rhythm was back with the dessert, a Warbird Root Beer Float made with Fort Wayne-based Warbird Brewing's T-6 Red Ale, root beer reduction and house made vanilla ice cream. And, yes it sure sounded strange, but it tasted great. A little like the ones we used to get at A&W, only on steroids.
Overall, the service was excellent, the food and presentation sublime and atmosphere very inviting. Is it the best restaurant in the state as has been suggested? We're not sure... we have some excellent candidates right here in Indianapolis, but it's a very serious contender. And combined with the Museum and Inn, it certainly makes a great quick getaway. Let us know what you think.
191 North Main Street
Roanoke, IN 46783
February 1 & 8, 2006