St. Elmo Steak House

Another Indianapolis institution, said to be one of the great steak houses of America (just look in the back of any airplane magazine). Emily finally saved up enough to try it, and even managed to keep the reservation a surprise right up until the time we crossed the street. As expected, the restaurant was packed during our Friday night visit, which was designed to quench a serious hankering for a steak. And quench it did. Two days later, we are still eating virtually nothing but salad to try to make up for it.

We started with shrimp cocktail and salad. Mostly shards of horseradish, the cocktail sauce was indeed “super-hot” as promised, and the rush of flames through our sinuses was quite fun. The house salad dressing was also unique, with hints of rosemary, basil, and lavender, perhaps.

Emily ordered a filet, while I ordered a New York strip. The steaks were beautiful, though mine was cooked considerably more than medium-rare, as I had ordered. Emily’s filet was a pleasant reminder of why beef is what should be for dinner more often. The mashed potatoes accompanying my steak were out of this world, probably more cheese than spud. Emily opted for (what else?) steak fries, which were a bit soggy, but any fry is a good fry. She never met a starch she didn’t like.

It was hard not to feel rushed. Our waiter was friendly but hurried, not taking time to engage in conversation with us until he brought the check. The host staff did have their act together, though, noting that our party was celebrating a birthday and sending a wedge of carrot cake to our table, which was a pleasant surprise.

After being touted as having the best service in Indianapolis, we were a bit disappointed. For the price of the dinner (and the effort it took to get Chris to wear a tie), we wanted to be doted upon. Friday night was not a good night to have this expectation met.

The food, however, was worth the price (and since red meat is a rarity-no pun intended-in our house, it’s nice to be able to treat ourselves once in a while. Happy Birthday, Christopher. I’ll have mine medium rare.

P. F. Chang’s China Bistro

We’ve decided that for a chain Chinese food restaurant, Chang’s does pretty well. Their food is very reasonably priced (you can have leftovers for lunch, no problem) and always very tasty. I recommend the big fat rice noodles, but the moo shu pork is good and the fried banana dessert, while not terribly Chinese in origin, is awesome.

Unfortunately we have reduced their rating by half a star because we’ve found their service to be spotty. Of note was our last visit, in which our server seemed to have little interest in speaking loudly enough for us to hear him, or offering wine, appetizers, or dessert (I don’t recall having to initiate the request at a restaurant of this type in recent memory &ndash we wanted all three), and he disappeared for long stretches, including when our dinners were to be brought out. My dinner waited on a tray next to our table for some time while he was summoned to finish preparing it, during which time it grew cold. No reason was given, and none could be assumed, given that the restaurant was not nearly as busy during our late Tuesday visit as we usually see it at other times. Still, this poor service has not proven to be the norm, but we’re going to wait a while before we return, and when we do, we’ll hope for better luck.

Sapporo Japanese Steak House & Sushi

Sushi in the front, hibachis in the back. Watch out for onion volcanoes and flying shrimp. The hibachi chefs are silly and friendly. It helps you with the realization of how much butter goes into restaurant food, but if you opt for the salad, the dressing is much better here than elsewhere. The sushi section is more restrained. The goldfish stay in the pond. Small children sometimes do, too. A word to the wise, however: they are not equipped to handle large parties, such as, say, a rehearsal dinner.

Shalimar Indian Restaurant

Rtandard Indian cuisine with a weekday lunch buffet worthy of a big, fat nap afterwards. There’s always a coupon in the Nuvo, look for it. Caters well to vegetarians


An unusual, but rewarding experience. We were pleasantly surprised by the zesty dinners and the friendly atmosphere shared by the patrons and servers alike. It was clear that many diners are regulars, from the family feel. Dinners featured ingredients such as saffron-scented rice, pasta pillows, and tangy greens

Old Point Tavern

Fun, happening place in the middle of the Mass Ave district. Careful, they’ll card you in the evenings. It’s worth it, though, because their sandwiches are pretty decent, the soup is good, and they offer a pretty satisfying beer list.

Udupi Cafe

All-vegetarian Indian experience. Located in the back of a line of Indian video stores, jewelry shops, and a grocery store. You have to be told about it to have any idea it’s there. Seek it out, it’s worth the effort. Eat with your hands, ache with your full belly

The Parthenon

Good Greek food in the heart of Broad Ripple. Not only do their (vegetarian) dolmades and pasticchio rank highly, they have belly dancers for your entertainment. As if the saganaki (flaming cheese) wasn’t entertaining enough…

Ram Restaurant

Typical brew pub…beer is good (you can even buy it to bring home on Sundays!) but food is way overpriced and not nearly worth it. Except for the Titan toothpicks. They’re OK.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

Same as the Ram, just a different name: good beer brewed on premises, but the dinners are uninspired, flat, bland, and cost more than they’re worth. Outdoor seating on the wide Washington Street sidewalk, if you’re into people watching