Chef Neal Brown is an Indianapolis food celebrity, and the opening of his latest venture, the Libertine, was hotly anticipated. It's hard to live up to that kind of buzz, but Libertine does.
More cocktail lounge than restaurant, the 21-and-up-only establishment serves fantastic Prohibition-era beverages shaken and stirred with great attention to detail. Whimsically named drinks include the Screw and Bolt, The Final Ward and Lonely in the Limo (most around $10 each); there’s also a well-vetted wine and beer list. Without exception, the small plates that complement the cocktails look beautiful and taste delicious. Perhaps the most popular, the deviled egg sampler ($8) consists of six pieces adorned with toppings like horseradish and whitefish caviar. The bacon flight ($10) is another star, with lamb, jowl and pork belly variations served in a decadent silver goblet. Roasted beets, beef tataki and heirloom tomato terrine are other noteworthy standouts.
Service is exceptional, with special touches like handwritten notes delivered with the check, and the decor is quirky yet sophisticated. We appreciate the Libertine's commitment to working with local farmers and producers: The bacon comes from the Smoking Goose smokehouse just a few blocks away, and products hail from Capriole Farms, Seldom Seen Farm, Viking Lamb and other Hoosier operations.