Plum's is a gem

The delightful French tomato soup ($5). Photo by Mark Lee

When it comes to driving around small town America, I'm the

eternal optimist. Whether it's in New Hampshire or Oklahoma, I'm in a constant

state of anticipation that just around the next bend and down the road, there

will be the world's greatest hitherto unknown restaurant, just waiting to be

discovered and savored. My wife thinks I'm bonkers, but charmingly so.

Usually she's right.

Until recently that is. I think I just found my latest and

greatest out-of-the-way eatery. Strolling up and down Main Street Zionsville

recently, I came across Plum's.

A quick glance around revealed this to be a really great

space: sandblasted brick walls, exposed timbers, refinished wood floor and

distressed cabinetry all giving the impression of the kind of classic bistro

you might find around Bordeaux. It has a nice, effortless, thrown-together

feel: the sort of look that requires a great deal of thought and attention to

detail to make it work.

Upon questioning my well-informed server about the

restaurant's origins, I learned that this was the same Plum's that had once

occupied the Panache space on Elm Street, only with a new generation of

chef/owner. The current menu, however, is quite classically French, something I

welcome in a world that's gone fusion-crazy.

Because this was only a lunch visit, I can't comment on the

quality of the dinner offerings, but if the level of ingredients and execution

are anything to go by, this could well have the potential to be one of the

city's brightest up-and-coming destinations. A future visit is definitely in


I decided to try three classic dishes, all of which, in my

opinion, define a chef's ability to capture the style and tone of classic

French cooking.

The well-designed menu (available online) offers a sizeable

percentage of locally-sourced ingredients, including Trader's Point dairy

products and beef, Capriole cheese and much more. The bread and desserts are

prepared in house, and their preparation is absolutely exemplary.

It was with pleasure that I tucked into a delightful French

tomato soup ($5), redolent of freshly-picked tomatoes, thickened slightly and

perfectly seasoned. I inquired about cold soups, but was informed that salads

were the overall preference with those who lunch (salads vary on a seasonal

basis, depending on available produce).

Next was a perfect (impeccable, I might add) Croque-Monsieur

($12): a classic grilled ham and cheese sandwich. When made indifferently, this

sandwich can be pretty bland, but in this case, the dish (made with

custard-dipped house made bread, Black Forest ham and aged provolone) was close

to a masterpiece of the species. It's the treatment of classics like this that

really defines the quality of a restaurant. This was absolutely superb in every


Finally, a lemon Pot au CrÃ�'Æ'Ã'¨me ($6): a delicately-flavored

lemon custard. Again, so easy to mess up, but in this case, perfectly executed:

light yet sufficiently firm to give it some weight on the palate. Great stuff.

Plum's features a short but very well thought-out list of

craft beers and a selection of boutique wines at very reasonable prices. I

enjoyed a glass of sparkling Sangria that was so good, I required a second.

I would strongly recommend a visit to Zionsville, if not for

the boutique shopping, but at least to check out this little gem of a


Plum's Upper Room

112 South Main Street

Zionsville, IN 46077-1520

(317) 873-5577

Tues.-Fri. 11:00 a.m.—9:00 p.m.

Sat. 9:00 a.m.—9:00 p.m.

**** Food

**** Atmosphere

**** Service


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