Lunch: Power Hour
Paintings of Indy-related businesspeople and aristocrats line the walls. Utensils arrive on a silvery platter. Table-scrapers whisk away any errant crumbs. It all feels pretty decadent for 11:30 a.m. Not surprisingly, The Capital Grille is the kind of place where mergers are discussed along with which Wagyu beef burger to order. With no appetizers and just a few entrees, the rotating lunch menu is small, but the portions are not. Even the Maine Lobster Salad with a citrusy vinaigrette provides enough sustenance to work well into the evening, and the ribeye steak sandwich, dressed with horseradish cream and Havarti, is as rich as the people who order it. Among the desserts whipped up by pastry chef Debby Dayton, the chocolate-hazelnut cake stacks five layers high and can feed almost as many.
Most of the restaurant is windowless, making it feel private and exclusive—far from the madding crowd of soda-slurpers and jeans jockeys. What better place to make your pitch for that promotion?
40 W. Washington St., 423-8790
The Oceanaire Seafood Room
There may be a preconception that deals are made over steak, not seafood. But this luxury liner of a restaurant—perhaps the dressiest in the city—challenges that. In addition to a huge selection of East and West Coast oysters, the menu stars flown-in-daily fish on sandwiches (try the excellent “dirty” preparation, with Cajun seasoning) and Chesapeake Bay–style crabcakes. Light, flaky, and served with a mustard mayonnaise, these delicacies find their way into sliders, salads, and appetizers during the lunch hour.
30 S. Meridian St., 955-2277
Any place that can offer a St. Elmo shrimp cocktail at noon enjoys an unfair advantage with the white-tablecloth crowd. And this spinoff of Indy’s most celebrated steakhouse isn’t content to provide an abridged lunch version of its big brother’s menu. Like the cocktail sauce itself, the list of pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, sliders, salads, seafood, and strips can be overwhelming, but you can play it safe with the prime-rib sandwich, crowned with molten white-cheddar cheese and best when dunked in the accompanying jus. Because you didn’t come here for a light lunch.
153 S. Illinois St., 635-9594; 4050 E. 82nd St., 915-8045
One of the first high-end chains to establish in Indy, Palomino has thrived thanks to an Italian-leaning menu executed with ruthless consistency. Suits pack the high-ceilinged dining room for flatbread pizzas, Chop Chop salads, and rigatoni Bolognese. Lunch combinations (pick two: half-sandwich, soup, salad, or pasta) are the most popular choice, though gluttons will definitely want to add some Gorgonzola waffle fries for good measure.
49 W. Maryland St., 974-0400
This article appeared in the September 2015 Issue.