This Valentine’s Day, I ate at 8Eleven Bistro, the new restaurant located in the Purdue Memorial Union. 8Eleven is a beautiful combination of elegance and modernity. The name 8Eleven is a celebration of Gemini 8 and Apollo 11, two of NASA’s most daring programs, both piloted by Purdue alumni Neil Armstrong.
Much of the bistro’s furnishing is black with striking outlines of gold, resemblant of Purdue’s colors. The ambience matches that of luxury dining, somewhere you would go to for a special occasion in fancy clothes. The service is absolutely wonderful, as the bistro doubles as training grounds for the culinary and hospitality students on campus.
I started my dining experience with three appetizers; in my defense, everything on the menu looked superb so I couldn’t decide between the three. I had the Roasted Bone Marrow, Steak Tartare, and Crab Croquettes.
The Roasted Bone Marrow melts in your mouth and has almost a silky texture. Paired with grilled rustic bread and some salsa, the appetizer reminded me of a very fancy version of buttered toast. I had never had bone marrow before, but after this experience, I’m definitely a big fan of it. Plus, it was pretty fun scraping all the marrow out of the giant femur bones.
The Steak Tartare was topped with a runny egg yolk with grilled rustic bread and cornichon on the side. This appetizer was a surprise for me; I have never liked tartare or runny egg yolk, but the flavors of this dish complimented each other extremely well and I ate much more than I expected. Honestly, I was very scared of the raw meat, but when on the rustic bread and the same salsa I ate with the bone marrow, it was a pleasant surprise for my taste buds.
My favorite appetizer, by far, were the Crab Croquettes. The croquettes were soft, like biting into tiny clouds. The lemon and citrus aioli were a nice, light, and refreshing addition on top of the croquettes. I’m a huge fan of lemon and citrus flavors, and these croquettes had the best addition of those flavors that I have ever had. The citrus is strong, but definitely not overpowering; it’s much more concentrated than if you squeezed a fresh lemon on top of the dish, and I absolutely loved it.
For the main dish, I had Wild Mushroom Bolognese with steak on top and my partner had the Diver Scallops. The Bolognese sauce was thick and creamy, but not to the point where it’s hard to eat without getting too full. The dish was filled with delicious earthy tones, and the baby basil tasted amazingly light. I absolutely loved the addition of steak on top of the Bolognese; the medium-rare meat was extremely soft and easy to chew. I tried a bit of the Diver Scallops, and they were the softest (and biggest! The scallops are huge.) scallops I have ever eaten. They literally melt in your mouth like butter; I would eat them all day if I could afford to.
The night ended with Profiteroles. The only way I can describe these is that they’re giant cream puff sandwiches with french vanilla ice cream in the middle, with dark chocolate drizzled over it. It was definitely a heavier dessert, but I couldn’t get enough of it.
I would highly recommend 8Eleven as one of the things you have to try before you graduate. It’s a dining experience you won’t find anywhere else on campus, and it’s unlike anything else I’ve tried around campus too. It can get a bit pricey (especially if you order three appetizers), but given the quality of food, service, and the experience overall, I would say it’s definitely worth trying.
Link to 8Eleven Bistro website: https://www.8elevenbistro.com/