Nestled beneath the Piccadilly residence on the corner of 16th and Pennsylvania sits the new Penn & Palate restaurant. With local art hanging over every table, community residences taking up the real estate above the restaurant, and windows that look out towards Herron High School, you don’t have to go far to know that this place values the Indy arts community. Even their cutesy tongue-in-cheek name references the many avenues that artists use to express themselves.
I checked out Penn & Palate last Friday night with a friend, and was promptly seated by a friendly and courteous staff. There were many diners in both the bar side and the quiet restaurant side of the place, and while it was certainly not over-crowded, I imagine once word gets out, this place will be an often-frequented cornerstone of the Old Northside and Herron-Morton neighborhoods. Sitting catty-cornered from the Thirsty Scholar, it’s not hard to imagine that all the developments on the 16th Street Corridor will help to fully establish this area as the creative community hang out.
Penn & Palate has an emphasis on local and fresh ingredients, and they describe their style as “contemporary comfort food”. Their menu is split into a page of starters and salads, a page of affordable and unique sandwiches (what I’m sure would be a great little lunch outing), and a page of dinner-sized entrees. Sandwiches will run you about $10, and vary from the falafel burger, to a classic chicken and avocado club, to the chimichurri vegetable sandwich. While I skipped the dessert page, I was certainly tempted to order the grilled orange and diced cherry bread pudding, made with Amelia’s rosemary bread and seeped in a black pepper caramel sauce. The best places always leave you wishing you had more time to enjoy them, and that was certainly how I felt leaving such a delicious sounding dessert behind. Until next time, bread pudding…
My dining partner and I started off our meal with the scallion corn fritters for $7, which were filled with real corn kernels, and topped with tomatoes, kalamata olives, and feta cheese. Though the portion was a little small, it was a good little starter with great contrast of sweet and salty flavors. For the main course, we decided to split two items for maximum tasting ability. We ordered the roasted grape panzanella salad ($12), with dried apricots, grilled brioche bread, and chose to add some perfectly grilled salmon to the top. It was like tasting summer in a bowl. The real show stopper, though, was the special of the evening, which was a jerk rubbed red snapper with a Caribbean risotto and house made orange jerk compound butter ($20). The unique dish melted juxtaposing flavors together, and while risotto can sometimes run the risk of feeling too heavy, the fish with its light but vibrant seasoning, and the orange compound butter kept the dish from being too heavy for enjoying in the summer.
Penn & Palate comes from the legend…wait for it…dary owners of The Legend in Irvington (sorry, I had to), and their new venture fits in perfectly to the thriving downtown Indy food scene. Their commitment to local ingredients and the Indianapolis community is honorable, and I hope to see Penn & Palate become as synonymous with the Old Northside and Herron-Morton neighborhoods as the Legend is to Irvington.
Written By: Molly Sender
Feature Image Credit: CityGalleryIndy.org