Brunch at Eggshell Bistro in Carmel, Indiana

Walk through the door to Eggshell Bistro, and you’re immediately transported to Paris.  In the center of Indiana, Chef-owner Larry Hanes has created a Euro-influenced oasis. Some diners joke that it’s cheaper than a direct flight to Paris.

Location: Eggshell Bistro located at 51 West City Center Drive on the City Center’s North side near the Center for the Performing Arts.

Menu: The menu can be summed up in one word, eggs. You’ll find strata, quiche, shakshuka, and tarts. What you won’t find is a simple plate of scrambled eggs with toast, Eggshell Bistro is much more imaginative than that. The truffled egg brioche is one example of Hanes’ creativity. It has fontina cheese, asparagus, preserved lemon, porcini white truffle oil, and bottarga. A hen’s egg perfectly poached in the shell for over an hour using the sous-vide method comes served on brioche.

Eggshell Bistro also shines is in the area of coffee and tea. They serve Four Barrel Coffee and Serendipitea, both in a variety of forms.

Thoughts: Chef Hanes master’s degree in design, art, architecture, and planning culminated in a thesis that included a plan for opening a bistro,  that would involve his passions—architecture, interior design, branding, flow, vibe, chemistry, and culinary. The result is the shabby chic Eggshell Bistro.

The bistro’s 892 square-feet space features 55 seats inside and four seats on the outside that embraces the community aspect. With the first two tables only six inches apart, it’s conducive to leaning across and asking the other table, “Is that dish as good as it looks?”

Eggshell Bistro is a relaxed environment where you can spend a morning chatting with friends; but, if you are time-limited, check with your server on those dishes with quick turnaround time.

Substitutions, changes, or additional creativity with a dish isn’t embraced. If you have allergies to an ingredient, you will have to adjust your menu choice.

Some of my favorite dishes are:

  • The asparagus strata. I loved this egg and bread cassolette with creamy Jarlsburg cheese. It incorporated caramelized onion, double-smoke ham, and basil pesto. The cassolette has tasty bits of caramelization around the edges, which adds a lot of flavor. A fresh fruit mixture comes with the dish. Chef Larry Hanes has made brunch an art form with his signature combination of dried and fresh flowers beautifully decorating each dish. It’s not shocking that Chef Hanes was once a graphic designer.
  • Sweet potato hash, containing crispy sweet potatoes and slightly spicy chorizo. Add some jalapeño and pico de gallo for some extra zip and crème Fraiche to cool it down. Gooseberries, scallions, and popped heritage red sorghum are part of the dish. Sous-vide poached hen’s eggs top it off.
  • Shirred dukkah eggs. Dukkah’s a Middle Eastern spice mixture that contains toasted nuts, seeds, and savory spices. Merguez sausage mixed with roasted pearl onions, red pepper, and plumped golden raisins for a touch of sweetness add to the dish. A hazelnut romesco sits beside the hen’s eggs baked in a cast-iron Staub pan. A baguette with stunning grill marks and a topping of seeds and herbs accompanies the eggs. At Eggshell, they frequently use hazelnuts and sesame seeds.
  • Biscotti is Eggshell’s specialty dessert. The chocolate-covered biscotti with sea salt draws the chocolate lovers. The corn almond biscotti pays homage to Indiana and Italy. You have to give these biscotti a try. If you are too full after brunch, they’re easily portable for a snack later in the day.

Price Range: Brunch entrees range from $14 for the artichoke tart or the Caprese strata to $20 for the moulard rouge. Sides range from $4 for fresh fruit to $9 for a Greek yogurt parfait. Brunch for two is about $40, including taxes and gratuities.

Disclosure: The Carmel Convention and Visitor’s Bureau hosted the author.

Amy Piper

Amy Piper is a freelance food and travel writer. She writes about food and multi-generational travel on her blog Follow the Piper. You can follow her on Twitter @amythepiper.

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