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Indianapolis Woman - July 2002

Simple Success

When South Carolina trained chef and restaurateur Regina Mehallick found herself moving to Indianapolis to follow her husband's job relocation, she wanted to open a restaurant that she thought could offer what no other restaurant in Indy did.

So she did just that, opening a chic little bistro at the end of the Massachusetts Avenue arts district that utilizes seasonal local ingredients on a menu that changes weekly. And what Mehallick has accomplished at R Bistro (888 Massachusetts Ave., 423.0312) in less than a year is nothing short of genius. Just step into the funky eatery on a weekend night without a reservation, and you'll get the sense from the crowds that her customers agree.

The menu is small here, with just over 15 items typically offered for dinner. This allows her to control the quality of the dishes and attend to details that other chefs might miss.

But the modest list of dishes doesn't mean that diners are limited in their options. A recent menu showed Mehallick improvising with ingredients as divers as a cirrus-seared shrimp and jicama salsa, rigatoni with a rich pork ragu and ricotta, and a curry of spring vegetables with Sri Lankan spices. Entrees that particular week ranged anywhere from a very reasonable $13.50 to an idiosyncratic $20.02.

Mehallick has a particular conviction about local ingredients, and she even lists her Hoosier sources on the menu. Everything from Klemm's pork to locally made chocolate truffles comes from in-state sources, ensuring their freshness and quality.

The wait staff at R Bistro is one of the most knowledgeable and professional in town, a fact that is made even more impressive considering how often the menu changes. Light wood, bright chrome and steel accents, and a colorful geometric tiles pattern help to make the space as eclectic and delightful as the menu.

Dinner is served Wednesday through Saturday only, while a small lunch meno of panini and tasty brunch items is served from 11:00am - 2:30pm, Monday through Friday.