I managed to see a fair amount of Indianapolis, or at least the downtown area which mainly caters for those attending events at the conference centre so there are a lot of hotels and restaurants, the latter of which me and my travel partner, Susan the owner of Loop in London, found more than agreeable.
There are some magnificent buildings in the downtown area harking back to more affluent times for the city. The architecture indicates good times from around 1910 – 1930 so you can see lots of Art Deco flourishes, Egyptian influenced decoration and some stunning stonework in amongst the modern hotels, malls and office blocks.
We ate some really fabulous food spending our first evening at the St Elmo Steak House established in 1902.
It’s a beautiful old American building with a long wooden bar and several dining rooms all adorned with photographs and newspaper clippings taking you through the years. The famous shrimp cocktail clears your head with a blast of horseradish before you tuck into some of the juciest steak around. The service, as with everywhere you go in Indianapolis, is exemplary and no request is a problem…the British have so much to learn about customer service particularly in the food industry.
The following morning we headed off in what I thought was the direction of Shapiro’s Delicatessen but we took a bit of a detour! This did however mean that we passed the Lucas Oil football stadium, home to the Indianapolis Colts. Go Colts!
We finally saw signs for Shapiro’s:
Once inside I got slightly overexcited about everything!
The restaurant itself is a canteen style diner in a classic 1950’s American style and the tagline for the restaurant is ‘Kosher style food’ so amongst many American classics there are also lots of wonderful Jewish foods including fresh latkes, noodle kugel, kaiser rolls and so on.
You grab a tray and work your way down the line and see what’s on offer. They obviously knew I was coming and immediately caught my attention by putting the slices of pie and cake first. They’re not slices though, they are pie wedges. The photograph doesn’t really give you an idea of the scale of these things and I lost myself for a moment in a dreamy creamy pie wonderland.
But breakfast first. Susan opted for her favourite breakfast of corned beef hash and following some discussion I plumped for a half portion of biscuits and gravy something I’ve always been curious about but never tried. Just so you know, the biscuits aren’t biscuits and the gravy sure as daddy o’ ain’t gravy!
So a biscuit is more like a soft scone with a doughier texture and the gravy is a creamy white sauce which I think might have been from a mushroom soup base with meat added in. It looks completely unappetising and the flavour is one of those strange things that you don’t particular love at the time but know you will be craving at some point in the future. Sadly I was too full for pie.
We did go back to Shapiro’s a few days later to try their legendary Reuben sandwich:
It’s served on a very tiny saucer which makes it look even bigger than it actually is (if that’s possible). I also stocked up on pastries to bring home which I’ll tell you about another time as I’m busy researching them.
Indianapolis is reknowned for it’s food trucks which pull up at various spots throughout the city. We happened to be in the right place at the right time as they gathered behind the conference centre one lunchtime, and we wandered down the line of international foods from Germany, the Carribean and Italy to regional US specialities including Chef Dan’s Southern Comfort truck.
You can’t miss the sign for Weber Grill:
It’s always great to wander around a new city and get a good feel for it. The downtown area is completely geared up for visitors and there are very few apartments or houses in the area so all staff and business owners travel in.
I stocked up on lots of American goodies to bring home which I’ll show you at some point next week as part of another post. In the meantime I’ll leave you with this ‘lost in translation’ funny:
They still look yummy though!