Café Patachou in Carmel, Indiana

Café Patachou focuses on fresh ingredients from local farms, all within a 100-mile radius of the greater Indianapolis area. You can taste the difference.

Location: Café Patachou located at 14390 Clay Terrace Boulevard in Simon’s Clay Terrace Mall in Carmel, Indiana. With several locations in the Indianapolis area, a Café Patachou is never far. Find the restaurant’s website here.

Menu: Café Patachou has a French-inspired menu created with fresh ingredients from local farms. They only serve breakfast, brunch, and lunch. The menu marks gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Additionally, many standard offerings may be made gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan upon request.

A list of house specialties shows a wide variety of dishes for any palate. For example, vegans and those seeking gluten-free items will enjoy the cauliflower “rice” with peas, carrots, onion, garlic, and scallions. The dish comes flavored with gluten-free soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.

Another specialty is the Cuban breakfast. This gluten-free item sports a fried egg sitting on top of seasoned black beans and rice, white cheddar cheese, avocado, and sour cream, with a spinach-jalapeño pesto. They also make a vegan version of the Cuban breakfast that eliminates the egg and white cheddar and adds hard white tofu, chopped arugula, and changes up the spinach- jalapeño pesto for a vegan version.

Thoughts: Martha Hoover came to the Indianapolis area in the late 1980s. Restaurants were serving frozen and processed foods, and Hoover couldn’t understand why, as it’s in the center of one of the country’s largest agricultural regions. This situation spurred her to open Café Patachou as one of the original restaurants serving dishes made from products grown on local farms.

Today, founder and owner Martha Hoover, was a semi-finalist in the 2019 James Beard awards for Outstanding Restaurateur.

Indiana is a leading producer of corn. An example of local ingredients is the use of corn in the Indiana sweet corn cakes. The dish starts with corn cakes pan-fried to a golden brown arranged in alternating layers with sliced avocado. Pickled beet relish tops the sliced avocado. Served alongside the tasty stack is an arugula salad glistening from the house vinaigrette.

Indiana farms also are a leading grower of apples, blueberries, and watermelons. These products frequently appear in Café Patachou’s menu. One example is the beautiful house-made blueberry jam — a tasty accompaniment to some of their bread.

A homage to the fall harvest is the pumpkin bread, which is on the menu even in the spring. The dish starts with maple whipped mascarpone and cream cheese layered between two slices of skillet-toasted pumpkin bread. Puffed quinoa and sugared pecans top each layer. At the server’s suggestion I added a sprinkling of fresh berries. The blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries added a pop of color and freshness.

Be sure to look at their baked goods available to go. They have some tasty pastries and cookies that make a perfect afternoon snack.

The environment is light, airy, and pretty. Crystal chandeliers accent the café’s light gray walls. A grouping of white decorative plates adorns the walls. A chalkboard wall outlines the service window with a list of the daily choices, including the omelet, soup, coffee, and smoothie. The décor displays lots of items to take in while you wait. Music adds to the atmosphere. It’s a pleasant place to hang out and enjoy a meal with friends.

The café has lots of seating options. A large communal farm table seats 10. A typical party of two or four will be at home in a gray leather banquet or seats at the bar accommodate those wanting a stellar breakfast; but, are dining alone.

I’d never seen their method of using a wait list. Once on the wait list, the staff text a link to your phone, where you can quickly check the length of your remaining wait. I love the fact that you know how much longer the wait is without checking in at the host stand.

Price Range: Omelets begin at $11.95. The house specialties range from $7.95 for cauliflower fried rice to $16.95 for an Ora King smoked salmon bagel.

Disclosure: Visit Hamilton County provided the author with a complimentary meal to facilitate this review.

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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