Scotty's Lakehouse: an evolution 

Let's play a game: Go into Scotty's Lakehouse in Geist. Stand anywhere in the house, and try to not see three TVs at once (some peripherally).It's like Ted Turner is a silent investor.

Besides that sensory overload, Lakehouse newcomers might also quickly notice how familiar the surroundings are: They've seen that dark interior brightened up by backlit signs, myriad electronics and the centralized watering hole before. Rest assured that the cool Dyson Airblade hand dryers have not been left behind at the Brewhouse, either.

The vibes between Scott Wise's two concepts are so similar, in fact, that I'm not quite sure why he decided to give this new gourmet burger jointa lake theme -- other than the fact that the Lakehouse is near Geist Reservoir, a manmade body of water also trying to be something it isn't quite.

In reality, Wise's latest culinary brainchild is more like the hot younger sister of the homely first-born; a gastropub whose bounty is much more inspired than the Brewhouse's.

The menu at the Lakehouse is less focused than it needs to be. It's not quite the unfurling fiasco you find at the landlocked locations, but still longer than necessary. I saw one Sunday bruncher furrow his brow at the roughly 6-plus-pages.

I had felt the same as this poor sap on my first trip to the Lakehouse. I flipped back and forth between the sides page, then to the burgers, then studied the small offering of salads, trying to decide how my meal would come together. If this is a straight-up gourmet burger joint, why so many other options spread out fatly and along so many pages?

Service standards are also similar between the two eateries: Pretty young things abound as servers, some of them greener to the restaurant world and their new space than others. One visit, my cohort and I had three different girls come by wanting to give us something we had not ordered. Then they hit the surrounding tables like they were thumping around a pinball machine.

There are, of course, also substantial differences that the Lakehouse claims. One of them is that this particular concept is "100 percent certified local, organic fresh," as per marketing materials that lay this branding verbiage over the state of Indiana. And it is, in fact, branding – Wise said he wanted that marketing piece to look kind of like a cattle brand, for obvious reasons. To clarify, however, the restaurant is not certified organic by the Green Restaurant Association. I'm not even sure any restaurant in America is 100 percent certified organic. To make that claim, every local farm Wise sources from would have to be certified organic – a title only the USDA can supply. And it's a hard certification to earn.

The place does, however, claim to source local whenever possible, compost their food wastes and recycle their paper. And it has a great, Indiana-centric beer lineup. I'll go ahead and certify that.

Once I started eating, things got even better.

Not immediately. My very first taste of Lakehouse vittles came in the form of the chipotle onion strings ($6), a plate full of fried onion strings and cross-sections dusted with chipotle spicing—and seemingly drenched in salt-flour. These guys were tasty, after you adjusted to the salt lick. I recall a similar problem with Scotty's dill chips back at the Brewhouse.

Thank God for sidekicks. Most fried sides at Scotty's Lakehouse are served with a trio of sauces: chipotle ketchup, garlic mayo and Sun King beer mustard. The latter, made with Sun King's malty Wee Mac Scottish ale, was outstanding. The beer mellows the mustard's tart edge enough to make it addictive. The garlic mayo is made with mustard, olive oil and garlic. Lots of garlic.

You'll find most of the items served with the sauce trio on the "Burgers bff" page, one of the most solid in the menu. Here you'll find the simple but delicious fries (sea salt, black pepper, garlic, $3), and the steroids version with truffle oil and black truffle salt ($5). You can't go wrong with either version. These guys are some of the crispiest, most velvet-interior fried potato chunks around, beyond textbook in texture.They had been presented in a small frying basket lined with kitschy "faux" newspaper, and when we got to the bottom, the paper had barely absorbed any oil.

Of course, the burgers are the thing here. Though I'm not usually one for fancy-schmancy sandwiches, it's my job to be game, so I studied the burger selection, a menu within a menu.

Amazingly, all the choices are inspired. Those that put more wind under my own sails include one that smashes in Maytag blue cheese coleslaw and fries, and an option with caramelized balsamic onion, aged local cheddar, homemade barbecue sauce and Applewood smoked bacon.

But if you're going to do a big ol' burger, do it all the way. And only one selection here truly fit that description: a burger with fried egg, apple wood smoked bacon, Indiana smoked gouda, and chipotle ketchup ($8, as with all burgers). Make it your first induction. It's good. How could it not be? The ingredients were fresh and well executed.

If you've never had a fried egg on a burger, it's worth the uptick in cholesterol. My only suggestion is that servers be prompted to ask how munchers would like their eggs cooked. A runnier egg would have provided some sexy emulsification for all that Angus beef, crisp-sweet bacon, slippery egg white and soft bread. Like a divinely primordial meatball.

On other occasions, I've had a salad. I was actually surprised at how well executed was the spinach salad with balsamic marinated tomatoes, otherwise known as the caprese ($9 for large). The tang of the balsamic against the fresh sweet tomato was explosive, and enough flavor, with the drizzle of good olive oil, to render the accompanying ranch chimichurri almost insulting.

My constant cohort – a notoriously picky eater, though in different ways than me – has also enjoyed his meals at the Lakehouse, though he wished we'd gotten regular rather than truffle fries at our last outing. He thinks the latter taste like bad breath. They may be something of an acquired taste – but then again, so is beer.

Scotty's Lakehouse

10158 Brooks School Road

Fishers, IN 46037

(317) 577-2900


Monday – Thursday, 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Friday, 5 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Saturday, 8 a.m. – 2 a.m.

Sunday, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Service: 2.5 stars

Food: 4 stars

Ambience: 3 stars

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