Loon Lake Lodge
I had low hopes for this restaurant for the following reasons:
1. It’s at the intersection of 69 and 82nd Street, where a car wreck seems always imminent.
2. It’s right around the corner from the emergency vet where we had to put our dog, Kelly, to sleep last year.
3. The entry hall is a cheesenormous convergence of Cracker Barrel and Disney’s animatronic country bear jamboree. You can buy a giant carved bear holding a roll of toilet paper. No, really.
In addition to toilet-paper-bear, one can purchase stuffed animals galore (most in the North Woods vein), key chains, jewelry, and many loon items, including loon salt and pepper shakers. In addition to the sellables, the waiting area features a giant fish tank, and—the piece de resistance—a lifelike bear that shakes its head and growls every couple of minutes.
My heart sank. Any restaurant that needs this much up-front distraction is surely covering up substandard fare.
We followed the hostess through several rather large (and indeed lodge-like) rooms, where she finally deposited us at a cozy table for four, near an enormous fireplace sporting an enormous moose head. We were far enough away from the entrance that I forgot about toilet-paper-bear, and started to let the pleasant lodginess envelop me.
Look Lake Lodge’s gimmick (aside from roaring animatronics) is exotic game. We started out with the elk appetizer, served as bite-sized portions with a horseradish cream sauce. The elk was sweet and tender. The horseradish sauce was delicious — sharp but not hot. Unfortunately, its aggressive flavor overwhelmed the elk, as if they were afraid you might actually be able to taste it and not like it. We also ordered snake bites — ground rattlesnake served battered and deep fried. This continues to prove my point that you can deep fry just about anything and it will taste like the batter and oil in which you fried it. If someone asked me what rattlesnake tasted like, I’d have to say, “like a hush puppy.” I was tempted to also order a smoked fish sampler plate, but I demurred given the coming onslaught.
The menu is quite diverse, and if you’re not up for the stuffed duck or buffalo meatloaf, you can always select a burger, steak or any number of fish prepared any of a dozen different ways—your choice.
Our waiter told us the specials (after we asked if there were any) and we were left drooling, Homer-style, from his description of their surf and turf special for two—prime rib and slipper tail lobster tails (the smaller, less glamorous Caribbean-dwelling cousin of Maine lobster). At $70 for two people, it wasn’t the bargain on the menu, but we decided to indulge.
Each order comes with two sides, and I chose the creamed spinach and wild rice. Our friends ordered the smashed potatoes and corn fritters. The creamed spinach was, um, creamy, the wild rice was great, and the fritters were rich and sweet. I admit that I wasn’t paying as much attention to the sides as I should have, given the glory of the prime rib. It was immense, thick and incredibly juicy, served with plenty of au jus and horseradish sauce for dipping. The diminutive lobster tails were tender and tasty, and served with a candle-warmed pot of melted butter (what doesn’t taste good dipped in melted butter?). The tails were quickly gone, but Dave and I couldn’t finish the prime rib—that went home with us and became thin slices on top of next night’s salad.
Despite the enormity of dinner, Heather and I were compelled to split dessert (why is it always the women who want dessert?). There was plenty to choose from – key lime pie (yellow as it should be, our waiter pointed out), the standard choco monstrosity, and their “famous” bread pudding. Heather and I settled on apple pie and were not disappointed. The crust was glistening with a sugar coating, crispy and tender. I could quibble with the number of apples (I wish there were more) but they were tart and had just a bit of bite left in them. The a la carte a la mode was a satisfying accompaniment.
Our waiter was friendly (but not TGI Fridays creepy-friendly) although he seemed a tad uninformed. We had to switch our surf and turf from crab legs to slipper tails (they were out of crab legs), and the wine I picked was not available by the glass (my fault, but ideally he should have told me that up front). He was either new or had smoked too much hydro on break. Still, I quibble. Service was well timed (almost rushed, but not quite) and he was speedy with picking up and returning our credit cards.
The wine list is not biblical, but it’s good. There’s a full bar and my Manhattan was well made.
This is a great place to take kids – it’s big and casual enough, and they’ll be entranced by the animatronic animals and big fish tank.
Vegetarians — good luck. Sure, you can cobble together something from the sides and pasta dishes, but do you want to eat your veggies with a stuffed fox or deer head peering over your shoulder?
Oh, and a word about that: a note on the menu strenuously claims that no animals were harmed in the creation of the restaurant’s décor. All of the stuffed and mounted lodge creatures are apparently made from faux-animal materials. I don’t think I need to point out the irony of a restaurant serving elk and buffalo making no-harming-of-animals claims.
But I will.
6880 East 82nd St, Fishers, IN 46250-1508
Hours of Operation
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