August 30th, 2013
Food, Culture and Community – Bluebeard
by Bryan Enas
It is hard to believe that a liquor license obtained in an auction gave the impetus to Ed Battista and best friend John Adams to start Bluebeard, the Kurt Vonnegut inspired, James Beard Award nominated restaurant located within the historic Fletcher Place neighborhood in Indianapolis. When Ed and his father, Tom Battista, purchased the building a year and a half before opening, they felt the building was in an ideal location sitting right off the Cultural Trail and across the way from Fountain Square. With chef Abbi Adams, wife of John, on board, Bluebeard opened in June of 2012 and has been dishing up some of the best farm to table meals in town.
“It’s all about John and Abbi putting out great food,” said Ed, which they do very well. Striving to deal with as many local vendors and distributors as possible, John and Abbi work with an ever-changing menu based on availability of ingredients from farmers nearby. John says that although creating a menu every single day is very challenging, it is also what makes being a chef at Bluebeard so rewarding. Abbi and he have complete control over what comes out of the kitchen and hold themselves to a high standard of uncompromising quality. While both chefs have years of experience working at a high level of artistry in the culinary world, John expressed that he does not want to alienate customers from the food or make them feel beneath it, which can happen sometimes when it comes to higher end dining. John prefers to keep things simple but still interesting and unique while making sure that the waitstaff understands the menu each day and is able to let diners know exactly what they can expect to be on their plate.
Among those who helped make Bluebeard happen, both Ed and John voiced a high regard for chef Greg Hardesty, whom John first met and worked under at H2O Sushi. Ed added that Greg’s work inspired a new generation of chefs in Indianapolis to develop a passion for the culinary arts. This passion can be seen, not only in the food served at Bluebeard, but also in Ed and John as people and their general outlook on Bluebeard’s service to the community. Along with bar manager J.B. Andrews, Bluebeard offers both food and drink that make you appreciate food in a way that you may not have before.
In addition to running a restaurant, Ed and Tom are also involved with other projects in Indianapolis. They are currently working with a number of organizations to develop the Virginia Avenue Outlook project which aims to connect Fountain Square and Fletcher Place with a park right off the Cultural Trail at Virginia Avenue and the I-65/I-70 junction. Using materials such as local Indiana limestone, steam pipes removed from Bluebeard, reclaimed rows of Bush stadium seats and RCA Dome material, the group hopes to “provide an accessible point of curiosity that will help bridge the gap between these urban neighborhoods.” It is clear that Bluebeard is not only dedicated to serving people great food and drinks, but wants to make an impact on the community beyond their four walls.