St. Elmo’s an Indy tradition
There is only one St. Elmo Steak House, at 127 S. Illinois St. in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. It is not part of a chain — it is a tradition. It began in 1902 and continues to feed its customers in the same location.
Don’t come to St. Elmo to find potato skins, sauerkraut balls, mozzerella sticks or any typical appetizers — there is only one appetizer on the menu, and it is the shrimp cocktail, with what’s known as the spiciest shrimp sauce available.
It will clear the sinuses and possibly bring a tear to your eye, but it is oh so good! It can be ordered with the sauce “watered down,” but I don’t think staff like to hear the request and really, all they do is add some ketchup, according to our waiter.
The restaurant uses more than 48,600 pounds of shrimp annually to serve 135,000 shrimp cocktails each year, and 3,800 gallons of sauce is made in house during a year using 6,500 pounds of horseradish, which evens out to about 18 pounds per day. The sauce is made from fresh horseradish root.
But don’t let the hot hype from the spicy cocktail sauce cloud the dinner menu. Steaks of all kinds top the list, and the steak house serves up more than 162,000 pounds a year, from the most popular filet to the bone-in “cowboy” steak and ribeye to a tomahawk. Also popular are the cherrywood-smoked pork chops, roasted chicken breast and fresh seafood. The sides of brussels sprouts, house-made onion rings, king crab mac ‘n cheese and others help to round off a great meal.
The restaurant has been a landmark in the downtown area and was named after the patron saint of sailors. It remains in three original buildings that date from 1892 to 1900. The serving area can seat almost 500 patrons. There is not much turnover of restaurant staff and they are 140 strong, with 1,000 years of combined experience.
The steak house serves as a place for many business meetings, romantic evenings and celebratory family dinners. Its atmosphere lends itself to a step back in time. The 3,000-square-foot second floor offers diners a speakeasy-design lounge. St. Elmo’s 2,000-square-foot wine cellar is filled with 12,000 to 15,000 bottles at any time, with the most expensive being a 1902 Pauillac, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, $8,500.
Throughout the historic buildings there are more than 500 framed photos that include many of the famous who have eaten at the steak house. One that stands out is legendary NFL quarterback Peyton Manning. It is told that he often brought new teammates on the Indianapolis Colts to St. Elmo and ordered them a shrimp cocktail, just to see the expression on their face when taking the first bite.
For more information on Indy things to do, places to stay and more go to visitindy.com.