Josh, my son-in-law and high-tech guru extraordinaire, suggested we begin our adventure in Indy by scarfing down as much protein as possible, an energy boost to help us work our way through the high-tech expo that spilled across the city’s convention center last week. He had visited St. Elmo’s a year earlier and had only good things to say about the restaurant. It’s in the heart of the city, conveniently located on the same spot it’s called home for the last century or so.Timing was the only problem. Turns out lots of folks had the same idea we did and the only available reservations were either in the late afternoon or after 9 p.m., an hour when I’m thinking more about slipping off to bed then digging into a juicy hunk of steak! But, hey, I’m nothing if not flexible when it comes to food.
And so it was that we pushed our way into the restaurant as the moon hung heavily on the horizon. The place was filled with patrons, good cheer and the savory smell of cooking beef. We had to wait only a few moments before being summoned, seated and watered! The menu was presented and featured, well, beef – New York Strip, Filet Mignon, Porterhouse, Ribeye, Prime Rib; you know, all the usual stuff!The usual stuff also means a shrimp cocktail, the ubiquitous item at steak houses that, occasionally, sets the tone for the meal and defines the experience. That’s certainly the case at St. Elmo’s! I did mention this was a fiery happening, right? I’ll explain.
The cocktail is a euphonic blend of huge shrimp deeply buried in a creamy sauce that has the texture of rich mustard and the color of a fine rosé. It packs a wallop! Only the uninitiated – that would be me – spear the shrimpy meat, slather it with sauce and bite away. I found out it bites back!The experience will be lingering in my mind for years, a fiery rush that spilled through my nose and spread across my sinuses. It had me leaning back in my chair; eyes shut tight, beads of sweat popping out over my brow and noggin. Oh, it was also tasty!
It turns out the cocktail’s creamy sauce is a mixture of fresh horseradish, a splash of tomato sauce for flavor and color, more horseradish and, just to provide an added punch, a bit more horseradish. Apparently, the chefs at St. Elmo adhere to the ancient Talmudic belief that you can never be too rich, too thin or use too much hot stuff when preparing sauce for its signature item. Go figure!