With business picking up in Indianapolis, I've found myself heading east along I-74 more often over the past few months. After a day that included a couple stops to visit dealers along the way, I pulled into my hotel in Fishers around 8:30 p.m., tired and hungry. I was looking for something new to try in the area and with the help of both Yelp and Urbanspoon, I found a place called Scotty's Lakehouse about a 10 minute drive away from the hotel.
Scotty's Lakehouse is sort of a misnomer because it's located in a strip mall at the corner of Fall Creek Road and Brooks School Road in Fishers. (see map) It is, however near the Geist Reservoir, a large lake that supplies the city of Indianapolis and surrounding communities their drinking water. Scotty's Lakehouse is part of the Scotty's Brewhouse empire, a small local chain of brewpubs and burger joints scattered throughout Indiana.
The guy behind Scotty's is Scott Wise (pictured right), a Muncie native who didn't really want to follow in his father's footsteps of running the family's construction and development business. Wise left Muncie to go to DePauw University for a year, then returned to Muncie to finish his schooling at Ball State. During his time in college, Wise worked at restaurants as a waiter and found that he really liked the food service industry. After graduating from Ball State in 1995, Wise struck out for Houston working as a copywriter for a large sporting goods chain. But he soon found himself back home in Muncie working for his father's business.
In 1996, Wise saw that a run-down campus-area bar was for sale and he went to his father with a business plan to help him finance the purchase. He was able to buy the bar for $65,000 and with hard work on his end he transformed the old place into the first Scotty's Brewhouse. He wanted to have a brewing operation on the premises, but didn't have th finances to do so at the time. Instead, he focused on serving eclectic beers brewed elsewhere.
Focusing on locations in college towns, Wise opened the second Scotty's Brewhouse in Bloomington, home of Indiana University, in 2001. Three years later, he opened his third Scotty's in West Lafayette near Purdue University. In 2006, he ventured into the Indianapolis market and opened his fourth Scotty's Brewhouse on East 96th Street in the north part of town. He opened a downtown Indy location in 2009, and just last year opened his sixth Scotty's location on the south side of the city on Southport Road. Wise also owns Scotty's Burger Joint in Columbus, IN, a restaurant that focuses on locally sourced and organic foods; and finally was able to open his own brewpub, Thr3e Wise Men, in Indianapolis' Broad Ripple neighborhood in 2011. Sometimes, you'll even see Wise getting back to his roots at one of his restaurants helping out behind the bar or delivering food to your table.
One of my problems traveling to Indianapolis from the west is that I lose an hour going into the Eastern Time Zone. So, my body clock is telling me that it's 7:30, but the clocks everywhere else are telling me that it's 8:30. It's difficult to find a restaurant that will serve past 9 p.m. through the week and I always worry about pissing off the staff if I walk into a place 10 minutes before closing because they're wanting to get out of there sooner than later. Scotty's Lakehouse stays open until 11 p.m. through the week (1 p.m. on the weekends and 10 p.m. on Sunday) so I wasn't worried about having to hurry up and eat.
Scotty's Lakehouse is more like a sports bar with a couple dining areas and a number of televisions hung throughout the place. I took a seat at the bar of Scotty's Lakehouse and a young bartender handed me a menu and took my drink order. The beer menu wasn't as large as I thought it would be and they only had a handful of craft brews available. I ended up ordering one of the Thr3e Wise Men Centennial Martyr Double IPA. I like forward and hoppy tasting beers, but even for me it was a little too much. It was definitely a sipping beer.
Like it's cousin restaurant, Scotty's Burger Joint, Scotty's Lakehouse sources the items found on their menu from local growers with a focus on organic ingredients. The ground beef, ground turkey, sausage and bacon items on the menu come from Moody's Meats at Lone Pine Farms, a Ladoga, IN-based butcher who specializes in free-range and organically raised poultry, beef, lamb and pork.
Scotty's Lakehouse features a number of gourmet burgers on the menu. In addition to burgers, they also have a number of "Not Burgers" sandwiches, salads, appetizers and three different types of gourmet "mac and cheese" items including one with rotini pasta, chicken, peas, applewood smoked bacon, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, fresh garlic and basil. Quite actually, that was pretty tempting to me to try as a main entree that evening.
But I decided that a burger would be fine with me. Of the nearly dozen and a half burgers, I only found a couple three that were appealing to me. They had a bison burger with chunky blue cheese dressing, as well as a burger with Vermont white cheddar cheese and garlic mayo. I stayed away from the burger with peanut butter, jalapenos, mild cheddar and applewood smoked bacon (although I did contemplate ordering it without the peanut butter) and ended up ordering the #3 burger - a burger topped with a fried egg, smoked gouda cheese, applewood bacon and finished with a dollop of homemade chipotle ketchup.
I had my choice of sides and at Scotty's Lakehouse they feature three different variations of French fries. The house fries are seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, parmesan cheese, garlic and parsley. They also have the Thr3e Wise Men fries with a secret seasoning and vanilla sweet potato fries that are served with ketchup, a marshmellow creme sauce and a caramel sauce. Caramel sauce? On sweet potato fries? Uh, no. I'll pass on that. I just ended up ordering the house fries.
The bartender gave me my silverware wrapped up in what appeared to be a ratty old hand towel. That was my napkin for the evening. It was sort of tattered on the edges and looked to be much older than the two plus years Scotty's Lakehouse has been open. I didn't know if it was intentionally tacky or if they just needed to get a slew of new towels. It was about the only thing out of character for Scotty's Lakehouse that I found.
Good gourmet burgers take a bit to cook, so about 20 minutes after I ordered another person brought my burger out to me. I had finished the Double IPA and the bartender asked me if I wanted another one. I took a look through the beer menu again and was having trouble finding one to my liking. I ended up just ordering an IPA from Flat 12 Bierwerks, a local microbrew in the Indy area. It was not quite as hoppy as the Thr3e Wise Men Double IPA and more smooth to drink. Still, I wasn't overly enamored with the taste.
The burger was thick and juicy, covered with the smoked gouda and topped with a hard fried egg (I ordered it that way to keep the messiness at bay) and criss-crossed with the applewood smoked bacon. The taste of the burger was good, well above average for your typical burger, but down the scale on what I would call a good to great gourmet burge. I couldn't discern much chipotle spiciness in the ketchup, but it wasn't overpowering in the least. The bun had a hard, but thin crunchy outer shell and was chewy and flavorful, as well. It was a good complement to the burger.
The fries were served in a small container with wax paper that was designed to look like newsprint. The thick cut fries were a little too salty to my taste and the parmesan cheese made them even more rich. Three different dipping sauces came with the fries - the chipotle ketchup that, once again, wasn't all that spicy, a garlic mayo sauce, and a spicy brown mustard sauce made with Wee Mac Scottish Ale from the Sun King microbrewery in Indianapolis. None of the dipping sauces were spectacular, but the garlic mayo had a hint of the spicy brown mustard in it along with an essence of lime and lemon juices.
While I can't say the burger I had at Scotty's Lakehouse was spectacular, it was still a pretty good burger. I couldn't put it on par with some other gourmet burgers that I've had in the past and I would possibly give it an honorable mention if I stacked it up against other burgers that I've had in the past. Still, the burger at Scotty's was good enough, but probably nothing that I'd seek out again if I was in the area. I'm definitely going to try out a Scotty's Brewhouse at some point as I was disappointed in the beer selection at Scotty's Lakehouse. But all in all, it was a good burger and one that I'd recommend trying at least once. (Picture courtesy Yelp.com)
(Update - It wasn't long after I visited Scotty's Lakehouse that they announced that they would be closing at the end of 2012 due to a leasing dispute with the landlord. The other Scotty's Brewhouse locations remain open.)