There aren’t many French restaurants in the greater Indianapolis area, so when the opportunity came to visit Vivante French Eatery, located in the Hotel Carmichael, I jumped at the opportunity. The hotel itself is worth the trip to Carmel. Guests walk through an ornate lobby adorned with beautiful artwork and crystal chandeliers before descending the staircase leading to the restaurant, which exudes a warm casual elegance.
My guest Tyler and I began our meal with non-other than Steak Tartare, a lovely serving of American Wagyu beef topped with a quail egg yolk surrounded by house made potato chips. Since moving to Indianapolis, this is the first time I’ve had this dish. The quail egg was the perfect accompaniment to the beef, adding an extra layer of flavor to the dish.
For our second appetizer, we tried the Crab Cake, which was made with jumbo crab and accompanied by watermelon radish & green apple slaw, baby watercress, and drizzled in a mignonette dressing. I love when a crab cake consists of more crab than cake, and this was the case at Vivante. I really enjoyed the green apple slaw as well.
Before visiting the restaurant, I looked at the menu and two entrees stood out to me, not only because they sounded delicious, but because they were mentioned in one of my favorite movies, Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, and the second in my favorite sitcom, The Golden Girls.
The first of course is Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French dish consisting of braised beef short rib, pearl onions, bacon lardon, carrots, whipped potato, and salted cured duck egg yolk. Tyler was first to try this entrée and he instantly got ‘the look’…the look that every chef likes to see when a guest tries their dish for the first time. When I finally got the chance to taste the Boeuf Bourguignon, I felt like I was in Paris with Julia Child. Every element of the dish adds wonderful flavor, and the presentation of the entrée is divine.
Not to be outdone was the Duck à L'Orange, the dish Blanche famously orders in an episode of The Golden Girls before she finds out her younger date reminds her of his mother. The Maple Leaf Farm Duck breast is served with a Bigarade sauce, toasted farro and seasonal vegetables. This is the first time I ever had the chance to sample this dish and it did not disappoint.
Finally, we tried the Diver Scallops Provençal served over polenta cakes and accompanied by ajvar sauce, caper, olive, tomato & onion confit and beurre blanc. The scallops were cooked to perfection and the serving size was larger than I expected.
To top off our culinary adventure of France, we ordered the Crème Brûlée which was also cooked to perfection.
It was hard to choose a favorite dish among the 6 we ordered, but for nostalgia’s sake, I would say if you visited Vivante, you must try the Boeuf Bourguignon and think of Julia Child dining with you as you savor every bite.
Note: Hotel Carmichael and Vivante French Eatery are located directly across from The Palladium at The Center for The Performing Arts, making it a great place for a pre-show cocktail or dinner.
Vivante French Eatery
1 Carmichael Square, Carmel, IN 46032