Jonathan Brooks’ Top Picks for Indianapolis
Indianapolis native Jonathan Brooks opened his first restaurant, Milktooth, with his wife in October of 2014. It didn’t take long for his edgy brunch menu to gain a following and a national reputation. In 2015, Brooks was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef (the first award given to a chef who doesn’t cook dinner) and Milktooth made Bon Appetit’s list of the 10 Best New Restaurants in America. Located in a renovated auto repair shop in Fletcher’s Place, Milktooth is a brunch-only establishment, open 7 am to 3 pm six days a week. The food would make a breakfast believer out of anyone—a couple dozen housemade cocktails and non-boozy coffee creations accompanied by globally-inspired dishes like Nashville hot chicken with polenta, eggs and garlic-braised greens; a fish taco Dutch baby pancake with avocado crema and salsa verde; and buttermilk and rye waffles topped with Canadian bacon, homemade ricotta and maple-infused pickled plums. Below, Brooks shares a few favorites from his hometown, including his alma mater Recess, the best place for cocktails and a literary museum you can’t miss.
• • •
Greg Hardesty’s prix fixe menu changes everyday, but always includes some of the freshest and most unique seafood available. He doesn’t just cook fish, he seduces it so tenderly into whatever delicate sauce or broth he’s serving that you’ll think the fish is happier on your plate than from where it came. The wine list is fresh and surprising and sommelier Josh Mazanowski not only offers spot on daily pairings, but makes them FUN and memorable. I hope you like Van Halen.
Recess / 4907 North College Avenue, Indianapolis 46205 / 317.925.7529
Credit: Kimberley Williams
Abbi Merriss is one of the best chefs in Indianapolis. Bluebeard is the kind of place where I always feel completely comfortable, whether I’m on a date with my wife or we’re with our four-year-old meeting up with a group of family or friends. Abbi’s menus perfectly blend Mediterranean entrees, hearty pastas, Asian street food, and expertly treated local bounty in sizes to share or covet for yourself. I can’t visit without an order of her spaghetti with creme fraiche and gremolata, or grilled octopus with whipped curry. The cocktails here are my favorite in the city as well, and there’s always someone around to share a ‘boot’ with. You’ll see.
Bluebeard / 653 Virginia Avenue, Indianapolis 46203 / 317.686.1580
Bartenders in vests and suspenders get a pretty bad rap these days, but the handsome ladies and gentlemen behind the stick at Neal Brown’s Libertine bring such a professionalism and grace to their cocktail program that I really couldn’t imagine them any other way. Tell them what you usually drink and they’ll point you in the right direction.
Libertine Liquor Bar / 608 Mass Avenue, Indianapolis 46204 / 317.631.3333
This artistically-inspired boutique hotel is just a three minute walk from downtown Indianapolis and an exceptional cup of coffee at Bee Coffee Roasters. They have hip rooms, and a full service bar and restaurant Spoke & Steele.
Le Meridien / 123 South Illinois Street, Indianapolis 46225 / 317.737.1600
The Best Way to Spend a Saturday Afternoon
Credit: Michael Crook Photography
Take a Segway or Pickled Pedaler ride through downtown and historic Fountain Square, stopping at some of our city’s many local breweries and creative spaces. Take a peek inside General Public Collective, grab lunch at Rook or a tiki drink at Thunderbird. Be careful when you pass Milktooth, the lingering dishwashers and line cooks may have a farewell gift for you!
One Indianapolis Attraction You Shouldn’t Miss
The Kurt Vonnegut Museum is an intimate look at the Indiana author’s life through artwork, personal belongings, and recreation of his work space.
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library / 340 North Senate Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46204 / 317.652.1954
About Jonathan Brooks
At 14, Jonathan got his start in the restaurant business washing dishes at a local jazz club, a spark was lit and he hasn’t held a job outside a kitchen since. Traveling west after high school, he developed a strong love of game and offal through his brother an avid hunter (and Jonathan’s childhood culinary hero). He helped open 515 as a young line cook in Missoula, Montana and staged his way up the coast from Portland to Seattle, a love of casual ingredient focused fare growing. A two year stint in Chicago found him at Shawn McClain’s Custom House before returning to his home town of Indianapolis in 2009 as Chef de Cuisine of Recess, where he co-developed two daily changing menus with thrice James Beard nominated Greg Hardesty. Under Greg, Jonathan pursued his passion for violently seasonal Midwestern grub and developed his own subtle surprising cuisine. In October of 2014 to much anticipation he opened his first restaurant Milktooth, a fine diner in Fletcher Place. In 6 months Milktooth has earned much fanfare, and Jonathan recognition as one of Indy’s best chefs. In 2015 Jonathan was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs, and Milktooth was in the top 10 of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants. In 2016 he hopes to begin work on his second establishment.