By Megan Gillette
Over the past few years, I’ve found more and more excuses to go across the Indiana border, where the hills just start to roll, to The Beef House. Whether it’s a trip to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis or a need for festive fireworks from Shelton’s (in the big red barn beyond the Covington exit), I feel a subliminal pull to the giant halls with a large, carved, wooden steer head, past the large glass cooler display of fresh beef cuts, and into the carpeted rooms with cushy captain’s chairs on wheels and large windows looking out to woods and pasture. It’s a classic steakhouse my grandparents would have taken me to for a gin and tonic, where the tonic was just an afterthought.
Most people are familiar with the regionally famous white rolls served with house-made strawberry preserves and soft butter. I absolutely have to limit not only my intake of these but also my kids’. They will eat these until their tummies are round and there is no room for the delicious steamed broccoli with rich cheese sauce and applesauce that they must eat if they think they will ever get another chicken tender/leg/breaded shrimp. The kids’ menu is fantastic and has set a high standard for other kids menus we encounter.
Included with adult entreés are soup and salad. I can’t even tell you what the other soups are because the broccoli cheese is the only one I ever order! It’s not too heavy or salty, just a clean, creamy cheese base with small florets of tender broccoli-superfood. Although I can’t remember having tried another soup, everything I’ve tasted there is prepared at a level which leaves me no room to complain, so if you don’t like a cream base in your soup or share George H.W. Bush’s distaste for the green vegetable, do not hesitate to try another.
The salad bar is one of the best. Not exotic, but full of the best-tasting comfort sides and accoutrements. My favorite are the crunchy, creamy pea and cheese salad; chick peas; fresh fruit in season; pickled beets; raisins; sunflower seeds; and the thick, chunky, homemade blue cheese dressing that is a hallmark of a fine steakhouse.
Now as I’ve written before, I’m not much of a red-meat eater. My husband loves all the beef cuts, but I opt for surf and turf. I’ve always enjoyed the classic shrimp cocktail served with spicy sauce in a martini glass with fresh lemon. The shrimp are huge, not over-cooked, and well chilled. I may follow that with an incredibly tender petit filet and baked potato-toppings on the side. If you decide you need the fried onion rings, you will not be sorry. Recently, I’ve discovered the grilled shrimp, which are large, butterflied and prepared simply with fresh lemon. They are light, perfectly cooked and oh-so savory.
Dessert? I’ve never actually made it to dessert because of everything I’ve just mentioned. I may have another half a roll with strawberry jam, and perhaps an Andes mint sold by the check out. This is the point in the meal where you are thankful your chair is on wheels and it’s been a nice sit, because you’ve certainly settled in.
After we gather ourselves up we stroll across the parking lot to the nearby pasture and visit the horses. They let you pet their soft noses as you reflect on your experience of a time gone by: less hurried, comforting, family-oriented, and satiating on every level.
Hmm, I wonder when we’ll “need” fireworks again …
Verdict: FAMILY!! I would feel I cheated if I didn’t bring the kids. The waitresses are patient and kind, all food is prepared fresh from quality ingredients, kids will be on their best behavior in hopes they might be brought back. Oh, and they will pass out on the way home, which is a pleasant drive into the sunset, past the fields and farms.
The Beef House Restaurant is located at 16501 North State Road 63, Covington, Ind. They are open Monday to Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Remember, these times are Eastern, so you’ll want to add an hour when checking your Central time watch.
Megan Gillette is a mother of two active little boys — FIT kids (Foodies in Training). In her “spare time” she is a senior graphic and web designer at Wolfram, a real-estate broker with TeamKay at Keller Williams, and a real-estate maven for the family holding company. Megan is in constant pursuit of perfect food, exciting dining experiences, and farm-to-fork meals with her husband and personal sous chef, Kurt.