St. Elmo Steak House

Review by: Michael Stern

St. Elmo Steak House recalls the sort of clubby beef palace every big Midwestern city once had, the one frequented by local bigwigs, sports stars and visiting glitterati. Its bar room wall is lined with photos signed by such diverse guests as Keith Richards, Jane Pauley, Ed Asner, and a wrestler identified as the original French Angel. There is even a shot of O.J. Simpson when he was best-known for his athletic skills. Up front is a case filled with raw steaks; adjacent to it is an open kitchen, scarcely bigger than that of a railroad dining car. Here meat is grilled and plates prepared by dexterous chefs, then whisked to tables by veteran waiters.

St. Elmo doesn’t have a formal dress code any more, but it’s not a place you’ll feel comfortable in Spandex or your jogging suit. One time a while ago when we were having dinner, a hirsute gent at a nearby table came to dine in a white strap T-shirt and torn jeans. We watched him fork his way through a slab of prime rib so compelling he didn’t even bother to look at his date (who was picking at a skinless chicken breast). While we couldn’t definitively I.D. Mr. Hungry, we suspected he was a celeb from the wall gallery, which apparently gave him dispensation to dine in his underwear.

“May we suggest incredible Martini before dinner [made with] extra dry vermouth?” asks the menu. The glacial stiffener makes a splendid companion to the house appetizer, six plump pink shrimp smothered with explosive horseradish cocktail sauce. Cuts of beef range from mighty two-pound porterhouses and 24-ounce sirloins to filets mignon capped with mushrooms. In addition, there are pork chops, veal chops, lamb racks, and gigantic (and gigantically expensive) market-price lobster tails. The sirloin steak, captioned “our favorite!” on the menu (and indeed, our favorite), arrives on a thick plate without so much as a garnish. It is a substantial strip of meat, glistening with juice, dense and full of flavor. On the side you choose from among a big baked potato, rough-hewn steak fries, or mashed potatoes. Creamed spinach costs extra, and is a worthy steak-and-potato companion.

What To Eat

St. Elmo Steak House Recipes


What do you think of St. Elmo Steak House?

One Response to “St. Elmo Steak House”

Dean Voeks

March 19th, 2014

We went in without reservations on a Saturday night during the Big Ten Tournament. Silly, huh! We were initially turned away with no hope for an opening during the evening. We hopped our way around the immediate area for a couple of hours, then checked back in and our luck had changed. They could seat us in a half an hour. Well worth the wait.

Starting with the obligatory shrimp cocktail, which I feel has gotten a little gimmicky, as the horseradish was super, over the top, hot and the shrimp were not as cold and crisp as they have been in the past. I feel they are going for the “stunned” effect and ignoring the “delicious” criteria. One strike. The breadbasket was super good with a number of choices. The French onion rolls fantastic, like a savory jelly doughnut. Don’t ignore. Plus one. Then the steaks came. It was late in the evening and I’m sure the chefs were tired but the steaks were done perfectly. Plus three. I had the mashed red potatoes and I would pass on those next time. Not lite and fluffy but rather heavy and gloppy. Second strike. But in the final analysis the ribeye carried the day and continued my long term love affair with Saint Elmo’s. Incidentally, our waiter was Vladimar and if you’re lucky enough to get him you’re in for an enjoyable evening.


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