Sidebars: Chef Joseph's provides sophisticated dining

Jennifer Lukemeyer , Fred Vaiana
December 21, 2011
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SidebarsHave you ever walked into a restaurant and thought, “Wow, I really could spend the afternoon here sipping sophisticated wine or drinking sophisticated drinks while chatting it up with friends about sophisticated stuff and acting all sophisticated?” I found that cozy and inviting place right around the corner from the courthouse. Chef Joseph Heidenreich, formerly of California Café and Agio, opened Chef Joseph’s at the Connoisseur Room just weeks ago and is easing into it by currently offering only lunch and occasional special tastings and dinners. If the lunch we had is indicative of what his deliberateness produces, downtown Indy luckily has a new experience in executive dining that is top notch.

The richly decorated space conveys class while being very inviting. The service was spot on. All orders are taken on an iPhone, and your server can show you pictures of the menu items. Joining me was Tyler Helmond of our office and soon-to-join-our-office Jeff Baldwin. Having to wait on Jeff (which will be absolutely unacceptable in our office to force any of us to wait for food – especially Voyles and Jenny), Tyler and I ordered a small plate of the asparagus tempura, manchego cheese and garlic mayonnaise. The tempura batter lightly and perfectly encased six big, fresh stalks of asparagus, and they were not overwhelmed with the cheese or mayonnaise. Other small plates included sweet potato empanada with gorgonzola and a balsamic glaze as well as prosciutto and orange onion compote bruschetta with Asiago cheese. These selections are perfect for sharing.

The next decision was for entrees. Jeff took an unacceptable amount of time to make up his mind, leading to a second admonishment about keeping us waiting for food. It was worth the wait though. I waffled between the bacon, butter lettuce and tomato salad with blue cheese dressing and the chive lamb brat with fettuccini. Ultimately, I decided on the latter. The lamb made the dish, coming fresh from Viking Lamb in Seymour, Ind. The pomodoro sauce was helped by the peppers, onions and Asiago cheese. Tyler struggled with whether to order the Caesar salad with avocado, spicy fried croutons and manchego cheese with or without grilled chicken breast. Quite frankly, I bet you could sprinkle spicy fried croutons on an old shoe and it would taste good. However, he ended up with an open-faced sandwich consisting of grilled chicken breast topped with prosciutto, cream sauce and melted Swiss cheese. A bit of a tang in the sauce he could not put his finger on, but we didn’t hear a peep out of him the rest of lunch as he declared it one of those treats he’ll later crave and have to return for. Quality prosciutto made the dish more special. Finally, Jeff decided on the Angus burger, which he declared was perfectly cooked as he had ordered and was topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, spicy mayonnaise and Gorgonzola cheese. What he appreciated most was the fresh ciabatta bread on which the burger was served that didn’t snap your jaw because it was over a day old. The house fried chips were plentiful and delicious.

Other offerings include: northern Spanish beef stew; a sautéed winter flounder with brown and wild rice, tarragon and green apple butter with carrot relish; a Mediterranean chop salad in a shell with feta cheese and mint vinaigrette; slow roasted pork with black beans, fried plantain and pico de gallo; and a mahi mahi sandwich with a barbecue glaze. You have some thematic ingredients such as prosciutto and the few cheeses used in the dishes, but the limited menu reflects Chef Joseph’s dedication to serving high-quality meals instead of going for quantity. It goes to show that deliberateness pays off in delivering a quality product.

Chef Joseph’s at the Connoisseur Room is located at 115 E. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis. Check out the website, and get there for a sophisticated lunch experience that ultimately will be a sophisticated drinking and dinner experience when he is ready!•


Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. Vaiana is a 1992 graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Lukemeyer earned her J.D. from Southern Methodist University in 1994 and is active in the Indianapolis Bar Association, Indianapolis Inn of Courts and the Teen Court Program. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.