Indy’s Great Steakhouses: St. Elmo Steak House

The Original

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The shrimp cocktail is very good—let’s get that out of the way. But it should only prime the tastebuds for the real reason why St. Elmo Steak House, downtown’s 113-year-old chophouse, still thrives amid a built-up dining landscape.

It’s the steak.

The bedrock corn-fed, wet-aged USDA Choice cuts get a classic season-and-sear treatment and little kitchen trickery. A perfect example is the 28-ounce porterhouse, a brontosaurus cut that nearly hangs off of its plate, turning heads as the server hoists it through the dining room. Those with daintier appetites will polish off every tender bite of the savory 8-ounce filet.

But dinner at St. Elmo is no time to skimp. The best way to go big here is to listen closely as the server describes the evening’s specials, like an 18-ounce Prime ribeye aged for 40 days (20 wet, 20 dry) for $68. The noble slab of meat, with its halo of trimmed fat and crisscross of grill marks, arrives gorgeous enough to tune out the distractions—the server giving tourism advice to out-of-towners, the big table of rowdy conventioneers—and focus solely on slicing … chewing … tasting. The aging process brings the steak’s natural flavoring to the fore, with the aroma of buttered popcorn. Close your eyes and let the hints of rare roast beef, campfire, and jus—the essence of umami—sink in. This is what steak is supposed to taste like. St. Elmo—the restaurant that defines Indy—has had enough practice to get it right. 127 S. Illinois St., 317-635-0636, stelmos.com

Price per ounce of the small filet: $4.99

Largest steak on the menu: 32-ounce prime rib

Grade of meat: USDA Choice and one dry-aged Prime

Aging process: Wet and dry

Wines by the bottle/glass: 1,200/18

Valet: $10 (more for events)

Most-famous customer: The list is long, but lately Jimmy Fallon

 

We love steak, any way you slice it. In Indianapolis, there’s a steakhouse to cater to every occasion and level of sophistication, and after months of dining like wealthy cavemen, we present them to you here, in juicy detail. A la cartes include a primer on the king cuts (for those who don’t know a porterhouse from a portobello), tips on the best cheap chops in town, a cattle call of beefy terms, and a stab at defining that common condition among steak-lovers—the meat sweats. You want a piece of this? Dig in.

 

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