A Near Perfect Experience at Peterson’s

Peterson's RestaurantThis past Monday night I had the opportunity to have dinner at one of the nicest places in town.  This establishment is known for their fresh seafood, prime cut steaks, and unbeatable wine list.  The building sits on the north side of town, stands alone, and always sports a packed parking lot.  They are locally owned and operated, and pay attention to detail-from the girls walking you to your seat to the servers bending over backwards to give you exactly what you desire to the managers who pour the glasses of wine. Having been there numerous times before, I knew this visit would be no different.  I am known for being picky about where I eat and the quality of the food, but at Peterson’s Steakhouse there is no reason to expect anything but perfection.

I arrived a little bit early for my seven o’clock reservation, but was immediately greeted and walked to my table.  I was sitting in the back corner at a round table meant for five which seemed a little overwhelming at first.  But when the food began to arrive I know why they put me at such a larger table.  My date would not arrive for another half an hour or so but that did not stop Mr. Rich Arthur, a manager at Peterson’s, from kicking things off with a glass of wine.

I was introduced to my server, Sara, and she asked if there was anything else that she could get for me, be it a glass of iced tea or iced water.  I asked for water, with limes, and was quickly served a bottle of Voss water.  Voss water, which comes from Iveland, Norway, is a very crisp, refreshing and perfectly balanced water.  The water has actually received national exposure in hit movies such as A Cinderella Story and Click and is often poured on the HBO show Entourage.  The water comes in at $6 a bottle and is not something I would generally order, but for a night at a restaurant like this I figured why not.  I had three bottles before the night was over.

Not long after my first glass of water was poured, Mr. Arthur came up with a bottle of Albarino from Galicia, Spain.  The wine is a very crisp and refreshing white wine that goes very well as a pre-meal beverage.  It had a subtle nose, smooth finish, and even though some consider it to be a cheap wine I felt that at just over $10 a glass it was a great bargain. The wine was from 2007 and still had that young wine flavor at the back of the tongue.  It was a great way to jump-start my palette for the evening.

Sheryl arrived not long after and was greeted immediately by our server.  She asked if she would like anything else to drink but did not hesitate to pour her a glass of water.  (Remember those limes that I asked for with my water?  Well, I was given a handful of limes that were arranged on the plate to look like a star upon presentation.)  Sheryl declined, as she knew we had a big meal coming and did not want to rush through anything.  Just then Chef Jeff Heaviland appeared with the first round of appetizers.

Round one included four grilled oysters.  These oysters are char-grilled Blue Point oysters that come in a champagne shallot cream and have a touch of smokiness to them.  Chef Jeff explained that they are thrown on the grill for just a few seconds to provide the dish with that smoky flavor.

Also on the table with our first course was a sample platter for lack of a better term.  The plate was huge and included an array of fresh choices.  The second piece was the Charcuterie.  I have had a dish similar to this at Bella Vita, but nothing could compare to the absolute freshness on the plate in front of me.  On this dish included prosciutto, house-cured salami and sausage, fresh mozzarella, two-year-old parmesan cheese drizzled in twenty-five-year-old balsamic vinaigrette, toasted baguette, roasted tomatoes, grilled Portobello mushrooms, and marinated red peppers. There were so many flavors on this plate, and with a price of $25, could easily serve as someone’s entrée for the evening.

Our next course was their world famous lobster bisque.  I had never tried this stuff before but have heard nothing but rave reviews on the quality of the dish.  It was served in a large coffee cup with a soup spoon and had a lobster salad on top to give it that extra kick.  There were some micro chives on top as well but that did not add a huge amount of flavor to the dish, as all you could taste was the lobster goodness within.  With the lobster bisque we were served a glass of Ferrari-Carano chardonnay which was another white, but had a little more lasting flavor than the first wine.  Throughout the evening they did an absolute perfect job matching wines with the courses.

Speaking of their wine, before I go any further I wanted to discuss some of the awards that Peterson’s has won.  Peterson’s has not even been here a decade and has not only won Best North Side Restaurant, Best Lobster Bisque, Best Wedge Salad, Best Bar Menu, the Award of Excellence by the North American Restaurant Association, and the Curb Appeal by the Fishers Chamber of Commerce, but also been recognized by Wine Spectator Magazine for their wine list.  On this list you will find every region you can think of and prices ranging from $23 a bottle all the way up to $950 a bottle.  They do offer a by-the-glass program but their selection is very limited.

Since Peterson’s has won an award for their wedge salad it only made sense that they serve us one of those as one of our courses.  A wedge salad is pretty simple for the most part.  You take a big chunk of lettuce, some blue cheese, and there you have it.  Well, Peterson’s does it a little bit bigger than that.  Sure, they use a big hunk of lettuce, but they use Dana Blue Cheese.  They also throw some pears and some walnuts in the mix and a couple of slices of tomatoes on the site to give you the full effect.  The salad was incredible.  The blue cheese matched with the walnuts was a flavor I had never experienced before and one I cannot wait to try again.

With our wedge we were served a glass of Rodney Strong Cabernet.  I am a huge fan of the entire Rodney Strong line and this was no exception.  I had actually just had a few glasses of this the previous weekend at a benefit for the IMSDC.  The dryness in the cab went very well with the blue cheese dressing. It was a perfect combination and although both flavors were extremely dry it managed to work with the crispness of the lettuce and the crunch of the walnuts.

Then it was on to the main course.  We were served two dishes for our main course allowing us the chance to sample a variety of their menu.  First we were served their pan-seared veal.  It came in a 16oz presentation and was served with a dose of foie gras on top.  Underneath came a pile of potato cake, assorted baby carrots, and demi-glaze.  The veal was served at a very nice medium rare and was very tender.  It had the typical veal taste but mixed with the demi-glaze and the potato cake it was a perfect combination.  Next came day boat caught scallops.  I have never seen scallops this big in my life.

At first I did not realize what day boat caught meant.  But Mr. Arthur would later explain that it means the scallops are caught, brought to shore, thrown on a plane, and delivered not hours after they were caught.  These scallops come from the islands of Hawaii.  So to think that these scallops were in the ocean yesterday and on your plate today helps the presentation quite a bit.  These were served with a Pinot Noir and mushroom risotto, an apple relish, crisp Panetta, black truffle oil, and golf crisp apple tuiles.  These were thinly sliced apples dipped in simply syrup and flash fried to give you a crisp apple flavor.

The wine that came with dinner was from my favorite family.  I am a huge fan of Pinot Noir, especially Pinots from Oregon.  This one was not from Oregon but still delightful just the same.  It was a Nobilo Icon Pinot.  It had a soft nose, a smooth finish, and is what I call a “strong finisher” when it comes to an after taste.  It is hard for me to say no to a Pinot.

By this point we are so full we could not even think about what was coming out for dessert.  However we were poured yet another glass of wine and this time we went dark.  We were given the Cline Zinfandel.  This wine comes from ancient vines from the wine making Mecca of southern California, and was bottled in 2007. (The one thing that I will note here is that with every single glass of wine we were given we were also provided a different glass.  Not only were we given a different glass but the glasses matched the wine.  Believe it or not a Pinot Noir should be served in a different glass than a Merlot.)

Out comes a coffee cup filled with all kinds of chocolate.  It was almost like a dark chocolate ice cream.  The spoon on the side of the plate was frozen which made the presentation even more powerful.  On top was a dollop of whipped cream, a chocolate accent piece, and a mint leaf.  But this was not your average mint leaf.  This was an egg yolk battered mint leaf.  There are very few times that I can see myself eating a mint leaf and this is one of them.  It was delicious and matched not only the wine but the chocolate perfectly.  And, on top of all of this there were four fresh raspberries around the edge of the bowl.

By the time dinner was over I was ready to be thrown into a wheelbarrow and taken to my car.  The foot was absolutely fantastic.  The wine selections were irreplaceable.  And the service was top notch.  There is very little that can replace a night out at a restaurant of this caliber.  From the moment that I walked in until the moment that I left I was treated like I mattered.  I was asked what could be done to make my time spent there mean more to me as a guest, not a number.  The folks at Peterson’s-from the management, to the owners, and even the guys on the line in the kitchen-were vested in the experience that I had.  Nothing can replace a night like this and I not only think you need to call and make a reservation right now, but I will gladly go with you.  Peterson’s has done exactly what you would expect them to and I cannot see them every treating any guest less than I was.  I applaud the entire staff and Peterson’s and thank them for being one of the best restaurants in the city of Indianapolis; better yet in the state of Indiana.