7690 E 96th St.
Fishers, IN 46038
Most large cities and surrounding suburbs are stuffed with clubby and sophisticated steak houses, where businessmen dine on week nights to entertain clients, and where wealthier residents enjoy a regular meal surrounded by those who make visiting such fine dining establishments a once-a-year occasion in celebration of some milestone. Many of these places are either national chains, or have little in the way of local charm or renown. Indianapolis, while hosting its share of similar establishments, enjoys the company of two storied gems amongst its restaurant profile. The eldest establishment, St. Elmos, exudes a rich history and celebrity status in the heart of downtown. The second establishment is a relatively younger operation (a mere two decades) located out in the northern suburb of Fishers. Peterson’s is a welcoming culinary experience, and one of the few true fine dining choices found in the suburban wilds of casual chain and upscale bar food saturation.
Established in 1999 by Joe Peterson, whose family runs Crown Technology, a chemical company serving the steel and wire industry, Peterson’s has slowly built a reputation as a fine food destination on the north side. The grey building, located off of a relatively busy 96th street intersection just west of I-69, is a little hard to access as the road divider forces a turn past neighboring restaurant Wolfies just north of it on Hague, and a subsequent navigation along a back road to Peterson’s parking lot is needed. Parking is somewhat limited, which can be a consideration on a busy Saturday night. Once inside, you are greeted in a well lit lobby with a front window adjacent to the hosting stand. From here, you are led into a darker environment with relative dim lighting, rich woods and dark colors that typify a luxurious style and bygone allure of the steak houses of old. A separate bar room is found near the entrance, with bar seating and its own bar menu. Booths surround a small but comfortable main dining room as well as line the corridor to the main dining room. Enclosed rooms are found off of the main dining space for private events, and a hall leads to a glass encased wine cellar and to well kept bathrooms.
Peterson’s features the usual compliment of fine cocktails, and a very extensive wine list. A number of glass pours are offered, as well as a much more extensive bottle selection. The beer selection, however, is poor for a restaurant of this caliber. A standard offering of bland macro brews and non-distinctive local craft beers rounds the list. In years past, Peterson’s used to feature excellent Trappist ales worthy of fine dining, but apparently interest in these were low as they have been dropped from the menu. To be fair, I do find many restaurants of this caliber spare no expense in promoting a fine wine experience while completely ignoring the tastes of more distinctive beer aficionados.
Appetizers are heavy on seafood, featuring shrimp, oysters, a tempura Maine lobster finger, tuna tartar, and a premium chilled seafood platter. An excellent prime rib egg roll and tasty charcuterie and cheese platter round out the offering. Family recipe meatballs are also featured in the bar. The standard well made soups and salads typical of a fine dining establishment are featured in the second course, however it is here that one of Peterson’s several iconic dishes appears: the Maine lobster bisque. This rich creamy soup dolloped with herb oil and a central lump of lobster meat is a fantastic example of the classic dish, and fully satisfying. I highly recommend it.
Peterson’s entree selections feature many classics, including various excellent cuts of steak (with a center cut double filet as a signature offering), pork tenderloin, breast of duck, chicken Milanese, and even prime rib on the weekends. Accompanying the steaks are a variety of sauces and toppings, including a subtle and refined cracked black pepper and brandy sauce, hearty Oscar style, truffle butter, horseradish bacon crust, and even controversially decadent foie gras. The steaks are well prepared, and as such accompaniments are not necessary but do add to the overall culinary experience. Seafood dishes run the gamut from Alaskan King crab and lobster to mussels, salmon, and crab cakes. Another iconic dish is featured in this category in the form of their jumbo sea scallops, served atop a bed of pinot noir mushroom risotto. I have had this dish a number of times, and it is excellent.
Side dishes are a hallmark of these a la-carte style fine restaurants, and Peterson’s offers some very interesting and well prepared selections. Of note, Brussels sprouts with pancetta and a rich king crab mac & cheese with gruyere and smoked gouda were excellent on my most recent visit, and fine examples of creamed spinach and signature au gratin potatoes and mashed potatoes with garlic are present as well.
After dinner offerings include coffee drinks, ports, cognacs, and dessert wines, as well as extravagant luxury pours whose purpose I do not fathom. One must leave room for dessert, as their enormous signature triple chocolate cake is massive and made for sharing, along with a signature family recipe sugar cream pie, excellent bread pudding, cheesecake from Eli’s of Chicago, and other selections. The coffee is rich and a perfect accompaniment to dessert and the end of a wonderful meal.
As expected, the cost of a well accompanied meal for two will set one back nearly $200 dollars, however the quiet and comfortable ambiance, excellent food, and very friendly and attentive professional wait staff and management will make this experience well worth the expense. I have dined here for a job offering, an anniversary, a birthday, and once or twice as a member of a sponsored medical education event. The quality of experience over the last 15 years has remained excellent, and I would wholeheartedly recommend Peterson’s as a fine food destination for southern Hamilton county.
As an aside, if you dine here on or around your birthday to celebrate, you will receive a thoughtful card signed by the staff which frames a picture taken of your table party that night, as well as a complimentary dessert. Its these little touches that makes Peterson’s worth returning to, even if only once or twice a year.