Indebleu Dream

For my thirty-fifth birthday, I wanted to go somewhere for dinner where I could feel completely pampered, but without the stuffiness that sometimes intrudes on high-end dining in the city. I’d wanted to try Indebleu since it opened, and had heard a lot about the exotic flavor combinations and propensity for risk, not to mention the lush décor. So we took a chance, and happily had a very memorable meal.

Indebleu strikes me as having rather a spilt personality. Downstairs there is a lounge with a “come with me to the casbaaah” feel, pulsating vibrant colors matched with electronica beats, where a bright young thing can score within thirty seconds of being left alone at the bar. Upstairs above the fray there are two beautiful dining rooms, one a delicate white that manages to be soothing but not sterile, the other a passionate candlelit orange.

Though this split means you might raise your eyebrows at the girl with ripped designer jeans wandering though the upstairs rooms looking for sugardaddy, you can also sigh at the young lady with the stunning Marie-Antoinette jacket sipping her champagne. Somehow it all works, tied together with the owners’ desire to make this a relaxing and unpretentious experience, summed up by their philosophy on the first page of the menu.

Another part of their creed is exquisite service. This is a true find in DC dining, and our server was perfection, maintaining just the right amount of warmth and attention without being ingratiating or intruding. Even at full capacity, as it was the night we went, we were taken care of without a hitch. We even received a phone call the next day to follow up as to whether we enjoyed our meal – a nice touch.

Executive Chef Vikram Garg aims to combine French culinary style with the flavors of India. The menu can be experienced a la carte, or in a three-course ($45) or four-course ($65) meal. The courses are timed to get you through leisurely, but it never feels as if you are tapping your toes for the next one, simply resting.

I had the kumamoto oysters with a chili-lime sorbet to start. Though I’m essentially an oyster purist, these were a fun burst of flavor. Next was a dish I felt could be a disaster or a delight – the seared foie gras sandwich with rose petal marmalade and garam masala brioche. For me the risk paid off, as it tasted like an insanely decadent foie gras pb&j. My main course was the tandoori rack lamb which was so perfectly cooked it melted in my mouth. For dessert I couldn’t pass up the saffron-cardamon ice cream “spaghetti” with rose-scented gulab jamun “meatballs” – the ice cream is squeezed through a potato ricer at table. It’s a momentary effect, clever, but the true delight is the taste of the ice cream. I really could’ve licked it off the plate, at that point I was so transported to culinary heaven.

Our only complaint was the wine list seemed a bit inadequate, which is not really a complaint as the selections were just not to our personal taste. Additionally, the much-vaunted $12 cocktails were just ok when served at the downstairs bar, whereas at the small intimate upstairs bar (a real refuge when it’s crowded downstairs) they were much better. Having inconsistent bartenders was a noticeable flaw when the service was so perfect for dinner.

Indebleu is definitely a place to indulge in decadent culinary risk-taking and splurge on a fine meal with pleasant service. I’ll return sometime to check out the lounge in more detail, but for now I’m dreaming of another excuse for dinner…

2 Comments so far

  1. Stacey (unregistered) on February 13th, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

    Jenn: First, happy late birthday. Second, I’ve been here but only for happy hour, and had pretty much the same rendition for the downstairs area, although we didn’t end up having dinner upstairs.

    I loved the “nest” seats in the downstairs area had I been there not with a bunch of people, but on a date – alas, that was not the case. :)

    The BEST part about the place was the restroom. I know, I know – but did you go in? TV monitors instead of mirrors? A little creepy, but still.

  2. Jenn L (unregistered) on February 13th, 2006 @ 2:46 pm

    TV monitors instead of mirrors – really?? Wow. I only used the restroom upstairs, which though pretty swank, had regular mirrors. Unless I’m getting so old I can’t see properly anymore!! I guess they only did that downstairs – I’ll have to check it out next time!

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