Any place that can deliver St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail (No. XXXI here) with your single-malt Scotch enjoys an unfair advantage over the competition. Maybe that’s why, on any given evening at the steakhouse’s new upstairs bar, you might find ad agency executives, law firm partners, and city officials mingling over whiskey in copper cups—often with the owner of St. Elmo, Craig Huse, himself. Marked only with a tiny brass nameplate, the stairway to the 1933 (named for the year Prohibition ended) leads back in time. At the top, waitresses in scandalously small red dresses cater to the suits in a brick-walled lounge that’s as elegant as it is quiet. You almost expect to see Nucky Thompson from Boardwalk Empire holding court in the corner.
As for the drinks, skip the signature Elmo Cola, which amounts to a fancy bourbon and Coke. You’d be better served ordering one of the several thousand varieties of vino waiting in the wine cellar, one of the largest in the Midwest. St. Elmo spared no expense in building 1933’s posh space, and neither will you when imbibing there.
127 S. Illinois St., 635-0636
Photos by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the January 2013 issue.