Indy Eats [07.31] 

Scholar"s Inn Gourmet CafÈ

Scholar"s Inn Gourmet CafÈ & Wine Bar On Friday, Aug. 9, the curtain will rise on Indy"s most ambitious and eagerly-awaited independent restaurant since Dunaways moved into the Indiana Oxygen Building some four years ago. The Scholars Inn, for several years now a fixture on the Bloomington dining scene, is opening a second location at 725 Massachusetts Ave. For those familiar with the elegant and charming original, the theatrical allusion isn"t entirely inappropriate. Lyle Feigenbaum, who, with wife and co-owner Kerry, has spent the past year and an estimated $5 million restoring and equipping the historic Chatham Arch location, sees his role as something of an impresario. "For me, the restaurant is the stage, and the chef and the staff are the performers. You"ll only see us when we"re on, and not at other times," Feigenbaum explains. If this sounds a touch theatrical, then it"s supposed to. Those who know the Scholars Inn in Bloomington will doubtless have been impressed by the Alice in Wonderland atmosphere of the upstairs martini lounge, with its high-backed velvet chairs and alabaster bar. All that is coming to Indianapolis, and more. During the course of renovation, the builders found decades-old graffiti on the walls: this has been incorporated into the dÈcor, preserving a sense of the former history of the building. With an open-air dining area centered around a vast outdoor fireplace, and banquet facilities for hundreds, the Scholars Inn will cater to all needs. "We"re fine dining, but you can eat with us very reasonably," Feigenbaum continues. "During the recent economic downturn, our prices have proven friendly to people who might be wary of dining out." With the recent acquisition of the Bakehouse in Bloomington, the Scholars Inn mini-empire seems to be thriving. In fact, fans of its bread will soon be able to purchase loaves at Meijer, a major breakthrough for an independent. Under the oversight of executive chef Richelle Wylie, the Indianapolis restaurant will offer more or less the same menu as the original location. Featuring a wide range of dishes produced from seasonal ingredients, the menu caters to a variety of tastes. There are plans afoot to open a bakehouse sometime in the next year, but Feigenbaum isn"t quite ready to make that commitment yet. "We"ve got an enormous amount of time and money invested in this restaurant," he says. "Let"s see how this goes for a year or so." Those interested in making a reservation at the new Scholars Inn should call 536-0707.

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