Review: Kimbal Musk’s Hedge Row is a Welcome Addition to Indy’s Mass Ave. Food Scene

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At its preview event this past Thursday evening, the buzz at Kimbal Musk’s self-proclaimed “relaxed American bistro” concept, Hedge Row, was palpable. The intimate 130-seat dining area was transformed into a less-than-relaxed spectacle of ardent foodies and local celebs sipping sazerac and snacking on hors d'oeuvres of rainbow carrot crudites and wood fired pork skewers. In all the charm and sazerac-induced glitz of the preview night, one obvious question lingered long after the booze wore off: Could Hedge Row live up to all this hype and hoopla?

On its opening night, I paid a second visit to Mr. Musk’s Mass Ave eatery—this time, not for the glitz and glam, but for the food. The menu, built around the concept of “wood roasted real food” is sleek and straightforward. Broken down by small snacks, vegetables, and small plates, shareables dominate the top half of the menu, while protein-focused large plates are highlighted on the latter half. After perusing and studying the menu, I settled on a few shareables: Wood Roasted Carrots, Roasted Beets, Wood Roasted Lamb Meatballs, and the Crispy Fish “Tacos.”

The beet salad, plated with fresh orange slices over a creamy strained yogurt sauce, is dressed in an mild orange vinaigrette and garnished with dill and a crunchy, pistachio granola, which adds a wonderful and surprising texture to the dish. It’s earthy, fresh, and balanced—a trifecta of superlatives that felt like a recurring motif for the evening. The wood roasted carrots followed: Bitter, charred ends of carrot play well against their roasty sweetness. Served on top of velvety ricotta and a bright dill gremolata, the dish is unfussy and thoughtful.

The “tacos,” wrapped in a nonconventional bibb lettuce “shell,” are filled with crispy, golden fried bits of rock fish and served with pickled red onion, radish, and a flavorful smoked chili tartar sauce. Sure, the green leafy exterior might turn off so-called taco traditionalists, but these are not to be missed, as are most of the dishes at Hedge Row.

The lamb meatballs, another highlight, are inexpressibly magnificent. Tender, juicy meatballs are drenched in a luscious moroccan-spiced tomato sauce and garnished with local feta and fresh mint. It’s a bite of pure ecstacy—the sauce its crowning glory. So good that when the waiter kindly came to clear my finished plates, I opted to keep the meatball dish so that I could finish the last bits of sauce.

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For a final course, I selected the Mole Braised Short Rib, which is finished with pickled tomatillos and queso fresco. The mole is subtle and savory with a defined richness that is nicely juxtaposed by the pop of acidity from the pickled tomatillos. It’s a substantial, approachable main course that could be easily be shared between a table of two.

What I would not recommend sharing: The Sticky Toffee Pudding. And not because it isn’t portioned for such an occasion, but because after the first bite, you’ll want it all to yourself. It’s decadent, caramelly toffee pudding served warm with a scoop of cool, tart buttermilk ice cream. The discourse and interplay between warm, rich, sugary pudding and the cooling, sharp, and tangy ice cream results in a bite you will surely not forget. The entire evening at Hedge Row was one that I will surely not forget, and one that you should not miss.

Innovative and fresh, Kimbal Musk’s Hedge Row American Bistro is a welcome addition to Indy’s Mass Ave. food scene.