St. Elmo Steak House, Indianapolis, 4/21/23

exterior – 127 S Illinois St, Indianapolis, IN 46225

St. Elmo Steak House has been a landmark in Indianapolis since 1902 when it opened.  It is the oldest steakhouse in the city that’s in its original location.  The place is huge, covering several floors with lots of different rooms and private dining options.  It was founded by Joe Stahr and named for the patron saint of sailors, St. Elmo.  Having had several owners over the years it is now run by Stephen Huse and his son Craig. They’ve won awards, have a huge wine cellar, valet parking and professional tuxedoed waitstaff.  The large white cloth-covered tables are surrounded by brick walls and lots of photos with lowered lighting.  The evening we were there, there were a number of large parties in the private rooms as well as on the floor.  It had a very typical steakhouse ambiance that you have to be in the mood for.  It was mixed on food but service was outstanding. Continue reading

Bluebeard, Indianapolis, 4/21/23

entrance – 653 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203

Bluebeard is an amazing farm to table restaurant open for lunch and dinner.  They have a full bar as well as lots of wine.  It started as a European-style bakery, as one was not in Indianapolis in 2010.  Tom Battista found a 1924 factory building in an historic Italian neighborhood in downtown and started Amelia’s Bakery which now supplies all the bread for Bluebeard.  The space was large enough to house more so Tom brought in Chef Abbi Merriss and his son Edward to open a restaurant that would have the same artisanal approach to food, and they did just that in 2012.   They named it Bluebeard after a book by Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut.  Many of the decorations in the place reflect Vonnegut’s books.  The winding space moves through numerous cozy rooms packed with fun decorations and happy people.  They take no reservations so get there early if you don’t want to wait in line.  The food is fantastic as is the service.  It will be a memory you won’t forget.  We didn’t get dessert but I snapped a photo of the menu for reference. Continue reading

Vida, Indianapolis, 4/20/23

exterior – 601 E New York St, Indianapolis, IN 46202

Vida offers innovative cuisine using locally sourced ingredients, when possible.   It’s a large building with a bar on one side and the dining room on the other.  The bar offers more casual dining and is in the original part of the building.  They offer a  6-course Chef’s tasting menu (optional wine pairings available) or a 4-course fixed price menu with several choices for each course.   Opening in 2016, it is an elegant space with a super high ceiling that has windows much of the way up.  One wall of the dining room had a cushy bench that was mated with medium-sized dark bare wood tables.  Carpet was on the floor and lots of wood in the room help keep the noise at a good level even with music in the background.  The service was very nice with the team working together.  The pacing was good as was portion control.  We chose the Chef’s tasting with a dessert substitution for me and our own bottle of wine. Continue reading

The Workingman’s Friend, Indianapolis, 4/20/23

building – 234 N Belmont Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46222

The Workingman’s Friend is said to be the “best blue-collar burger place in town.”  Founded around 1918 by Louis Stamatkin, an immigrant from Macedonia, who was helped by his fellow Macedonian immigrants to open the place.  He served lunch to local railroad workers and other factory workers and called his place Belmont Lunch.  Beer and liquor were a big draw for customers.  When the workers were on strike he let them run a tab for which the place was given the nickname “The Workingman’s Friend.”  When he died at the young age of 46 his sons (Carl and Earl) took over and renamed the place in his honor, but they also added some more expensive items to the menu and live entertainment.  Carl’s daughter Becky started working there in 1978 and by 1980 the live music and steaks were gone.  The place again focused on burgers and beer, of which the burgers are thin with a crispy edge.  The expansion the sons planned never happened but it is still a large place filled with small closely spaced formica-topped tables.  There are a number of lots around to park in and they were all pretty much full at 1:30 as was the interior.  At one point a line formed waiting for the tables.  It took close to an hour to get our food but the wait was worth it.  It is a fantastic burger.  The service was friendly but the noise level is loud from conversations.  Televisions over the long bar were turned off, but a full bar of liquors is available. Continue reading

Coat Check Coffee, Indianapolis, 4/20/23

building – 401 E Michigan St, Indianapolis, IN 46204

Coat Check Coffee is open daily in the historic Athenaeum building.    They offer pastries and bialy sandwiches in addition to coffee beverages.  There are tables in the lobby next to the counter as well as by the first-floor entrance.  They are located in what was the coat check area of the old theater.  It is a small counter but they are fairly quick.  We tried one of their sandwiches and some of their pastries.  It was mostly a younger crowd but with a variety of seating options.  I also saw groups with their computers possibly having a meeting at the one large table.  It is run by the Small Victories hospitality group that operates several other coffee shops in the area.  If you are nearby, stop by for a coffee and an almond croissant. Continue reading

Oakley’s Bistro, Indianapolis, 4/19/23

exterior – 1464 W 86th St, Indianapolis, IN 46260

Oakley’s Bistro was started in 2002 and continues to be run by Chef Steven Oakley today.  His dream was to create “an affordable, everyday destination where every meal is a special occasion.”  He started cooking at 16 years of age and has gathered experience from many restaurants and other chefs.  Now he and his restaurant have been recognized with many awards and he also donates a portion of the bistro’s sales to an Indianapolis food rescue program as well as opening his kitchen for training and hiring of those who want to go into the restaurant industry.  The place is medium-sized with some outdoor tables also available and located in a strip shopping center.  They offer an a la carte menu but also have 2 tasting menu time slots on Wed- Sat nights.  We opted for that which must be reserved 24 hours in advance.  As you enter the dining room you’ll see the curved booth slightly above and next to the kitchen and that is where the tasting is served by the chef himself.    The 5 – 6 course tasting can accommodate up to 4 people but if you are a couple it will be just you.  At $85 per person it is a good value with wine pairings available.  We had a lovely evening there and would recommend the place if you are in the area. Continue reading

Goose the Market, Indianapolis, 4/19/23

exterior – 2503 N Delaware St, Indianapolis, IN 46205

Goose the Market offers a daily selection of sandwiches, soups and small plates as well as a deli counter with meats, cheeses, breads, gelato, specialty foods and beer/wine.  The market and butcher shop are all about the love of good food and the people who produce it.  Housed in a corner building, there are a few stools by a counter at the window to the street and some outside seating.  Inside is a long counter where the meats, cheese, and gelato are displayed and you can place your order.  Across from that are shelves of specialty items and downstairs is the wine cellar.  You could see them slicing and assembling your sandwich while you waited.  Different sandwiches are specials daily.  It’s a wonderful shop and the sandwiches are quite good. Continue reading