This weekend, Jon and I ventured to Winona Lake, near Warsaw, to take pictures of front porches. You see, we are contemplating adding a front porch to our house, so we wanted to gather ideas to show our designer. Oddly enough, not many of the houses around Winona Lake have front porches- it seems that our memories betrayed us- an apparent case of confabulation (admittedly, Jon had to explain what this word means when he used it). But all was not lost because we got to eat at Cerulean. We’ve been there a handful of times, but it has been a few years.
I love this quote from its website: “Cerulean through food, at its best and at every level: is about communication, communion and joy, while encouraging a modern sensibility that inspires.” It embodies the experience you will have at Cerulean. The atmosphere is fun and inviting. The menu fuses tapas, sushi, and high-end dinners into a perfect combination of choices, each carefully crafted for quality and presentation. Jon and I love to share food. It’s one of the reasons tapas has always been so appealing to us. Cerulean gave us the opportunity to truly experience our food- taking our time, tasting each bite, and enjoying each other’s company.
Here’s what we had:
Round 1- (Tapas)
maple leaf duck bacon tomato, black risotto, endive $9
This was my favorite dish of the evening. The duck bacon had a nice light flavor and the texture was perfect- not crunchy like typical bacon, rather tender and juicy, with a thin layer of fat on one side to lend richness to the taste. Surprisingly, the black risotto was extremely cheesy and sticky, and while that turned Jon off a bit, I loved it. It was salty and comforting and complemented the smoky duck bacon.
balsamic pork strawberries, ide’s honey $7
We thought this dish was going to be pulled pork and I think we would have liked that texture better. Although we enjoyed the dish, we probably wouldn’t order it again. It simply wasn’t what we were expecting. We couldn’t taste much balsamic, and while the honey was a good idea, serving it on the bottom made it almost impossible to integrate into each bite. We’d suggest serving this as pulled pork and drizzling the honey over the dish. We did enjoy the combination of pork and strawberry though, which opens up many doors for us in our own cooking.
viking lamb sausage melon, mustard, cucumber-tarragon puree $8
This was Jon’s favorite dish. The combination of melon, sausage , mustard and cucumber-tarragon puree was savory and unexpected. The salty sausage was tempered by the subtly sweet melon. The mustard added a delightful punch. The flowers you see are actually edible flowers, which is a nice touch.
strawberry gazpacho tomato crisp, basil $4
I love gazpacho and I’ve had strawberry gazpacho before, so I had to try this to compare it to others I’ve had. It is certainly one of the better I’ve had, but I am glad it is served in such a small serving size. By the time I was done, I was done- I don’t think I could have eaten anymore. It has just enough acid and tart to make it difficult to eat in large quantities. I loved the tomato crisps and will need to figure out how to make those. What a fun addition.
Round 3- (Sushi)
gunslinger: tuna, avocado, tomato, cilantro, scallions, sriracha, lime $10
This is the most surprising roll I’ve ever eaten- the flavor knocked the wind out of me. The combinaton of scallions, cilantro, lime and cilantro gives this roll a heavy Mexican quality, but once the shock of that wore off, we thoroughly enjoyed it. I did have to take a break after the first one to regain my senses. I can handle spice, but this was a little much for me. Luckily, I got used to it and finished off my half with ease. Thanks to our waiter for suggesting we eat it sans soy in order to enjoy the flavor combinations already present.
red dragon: tempura ebi roll topped with tuna, eel and eel sauce $14
Though this roll could be compared to a typical tuna roll, I enjoyed the added flavor of the scallions. Plus, it served as a nice buffer after the smoking hot gunslinger. Jon described this roll as super meaty- meat on the inside, meat on the outside… delicious!
eel: unset eel, tempura asparagus, cucumber, topped with shrimp & avocado $11
Eel is my favorite, so there’s very little that could be done to mess up this roll, but I especially enjoyed the added flavor and texture of the tempura asparagus. Normally, Jon and I steer away from rolls containing asparagus, but this one was perfect.
tiger: avocado, cucumber, carrot, red pepers, peanut sauce, ginger, lemon zest, scallion $7 (not pictured)
We ordered this roll to go because we simply could not eat another bite, but we really wanted to try it. We ate it sporadically throughout the following day. It is lovely- the peanut sauce is a nice touch, giving it a Thai flair. I also liked the taste of ginger in the roll. Normally, we eat raw ginger between each bite, but incorporating it was surprisingly pleasing.
If you haven’t been to Cerulean, I recommend making a the trek to Winona Lake to do so. It is a bit pricey (our bill came to over $80), but for special occasions, this is the perfect spot. Check out the full menu on the restaurant’s website. Also, follow them on Twitter and like their page on Facebook.