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R Bistro has a devoted clientele

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It is all about the neighbors at this week’s restaurant. At R Bistro, located on the “Mass Ave East End” at 888 Massachusetts Ave., local residents are among its many patrons.

“R Bistro is a cool, hip urban bistro specializing in locally-grown food fresh product,” says supervisor Chad Hosier. “It is a neighborhood business that is very unique to this city.”

The restaurant believes that it is part of the neighborhood, and its commitment to providing what downtown diners are looking for has created a devoted clientele that has grown ever since it opened more than nine years ago. Not only does it cater to local tastes, but it also uses local ingredients.

The eatery partners with Big City Farms, Good Life Farm and other local growers to get almost all of its food from Indiana. It even has its own garden on the side of the building where ingredients are picked daily.

R Bistro also utilizes other local businesses. It serves coffee and tea from Indianapolis-based Hubbard and Cravens, and partners with its next-door neighbor, The Best Chocolate in Town, to provide desserts.

The lunch menu changes quarterly because, as rbistro.com says, “you just can’t grow a great tomato in January.” The philosophy is that there’s no need to import from far away when there are so many quality options nearby.

“We make the best of local seasonal ingredients,” said sous chef Erin Kemp. “We work hard to take advantage of all the tremendous products that we have in Indiana that maybe people take for granted.”

They take that philosophy a step further with the dinner menu, which changes on a weekly basis. “Monday morning we get an e-mail from local growers and our local meat producer and see what they have available,” said Kemp. “We kind of plan around them.”

I tried bulgur and spinach pilaf with labneh and chili-roasted tomatoes, a small salad and toasted bread on the side. It was easy to tell the tomatoes were fresh, and the chili added flavor with a little kick. The salad was very fresh as well. It had a tasty, but not overwhelming, vinaigrette and provided a crisp counterpart to the meal.

The spinach and bulgur (a grain used in Middle Eastern cuisine) with labneh (a Greek yogurt) was definitely the star of the show. It came with caramelized onions on top and had a great simple flavor to it. The labneh acted as a glue, unifying the spinach (picked from R Bistro’s side garden), bulgur, onion and a little salt and pepper into one tasty conglomerate.

For dessert, I had chocolate sheet cake a la mode. Enough said. Honestly, if you don’t like rich chocolate cake with ice cream on top, there could be something wrong with you.

To find out more about this responsible restaurant, call (317) 423-0348 or visit rbistro.com.

You can e-mail comments to Aaron Rimstidt at [email protected].

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