Pucker up

By Sara McAninch // Photography by April Knox

Life hands us lemons and we say ‘thank you’

When the temperature rises and the humidity stifles, don’t let the summer heat sour your appetite. Even if you’re as overheated as a car radiator on a desert highway in July, cool down by tickling your taste buds with the refreshing tang of lemon. Here, five tantalizingly tart options — some sweet, some savory — from the southside of Indianapolis.

Lemon Shake-Up and Lemon Berry Martini
at Stacked Pickle
172 Melody Ave., Greenwood | (317) 300-9462 | stackedpickle.com

You would expect a restaurant owned by a former Indianapolis Colts linebacker to have a sports theme, but Stacked Pickle in Greenwood offers more than the latest game. The namesake pickles are breaded to order in-house. So are the pork tenderloins, which, according to General Manager Tony Rahe, are “six times larger than the bun and hard to eat” because the meat isn’t pounded down to a thin piece like the sandwich is traditionally served.

Although beer is a popular choice when a sporting event is on one of the many televisions scattered throughout the restaurant, a cooling cocktail is also a great option. If you crave the invigorating taste of lemonade, but want an adult kick, then you’ll really cheer for the lemon shake-up. The drink’s base is Deep Eddy Lemon, a vodka with lemon juice and cane sugar. The liquor is combined with the juice of freshly squeezed lemons, sugar and ice. The concoction is vigorously shaken before being poured into a Mason jar. Finished with a sugared rim and lemon wedge garnish, this beverage has a “refreshing but tart twist,” says bartender Abigail Broderick.

Stacked Pickle offers a lemon berry martini if you want a little extra flavor with your lemonade. Like the shake-up, the martini starts with Deep Eddy Lemon and freshly made lemonade. It’s given a shot of sweet raspberry cordial for a berry blast. This purplish drink has a “fruity taste but it’s refreshing at the same time. It’s easy to suck down,” says Broderick.
Don’t let the sports bar moniker fool you: Stacked Pickle is family friendly and welcomes large groups. Even during the hottest months it’s a cool place to eat and relax.

Summer Rolls at Thai Spice
2220 E. County Line Road, Indianapolis | (317) 881-2243 | thaispiceindy.com

For 15 years Thai Spice has greeted its customers at the door with friendly service and a traditional Thai cuisine experience. With spice levels varying from no spice (mild) to Thai hot (extra spicy), and even some in-between heat levels like mild-medium, you can savor your sustenance in a casual setting that includes hanging lotus flower lights.

The menu offers a lot of options, and one tongue-teasing dish are the summer rolls. Though named for the season, these rolls are delightful year-round with crunchy contents that include cucumber, lettuce, carrot and tofu cutlet. The fillings are wrapped in softened rice paper, rolled into a tube shape and then cut into eight large pieces. If you want extra protein, shrimp or slices of chicken can be added to the top.

What really makes this roll unique is the lemon-chili dipping sauce. The base is the traditional Thai sweet chili sauce, then some lemon juice and sugar are added for a “little hint of sweetness,” says manager Greg Luzietti. Together the roll and its saucy side hit all your taste buds with the combination of fresh vegetables, tart lemon, sweetness and a tiny bit of heat. Each serving is sizable, so if you’re eating it solo, it could be a meal. If you’re still hungry, though, Luzietti recommends a salad or soup addition.

Enlightened Lemon Thyme Chicken
at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse
1251 N. U.S. 31, Greenwood | (317) 881-3500 | bjsrestaurants.com

Chicken can be bland if it’s not seasoned or cooked right. At BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, a California-based chain, there is no such thing as boring when you’re eating the Enlightened Lemon Thyme Chicken.

The entrée features chicken breasts (for lunch you get one 6-ounce breast; the dinner entrée contains two 4-ounce pieces) coated with Big Poppa Smokers’ Desert Gold rub. The Mediterranean-inspired herb blend with lemon peel and sesame is similar to a “lemon pepper seasoning, but the twist on this is it has sesame in it and an extra amount of herbs,” says Scott Rodriguez, BJ’s senior vice president of culinary and kitchen innovation. “It really helps balance out the salt.” The roasting process then “opens up the lemon peel, opens up the herbs, opens up the sesame, so you really get the oils,” he adds.

The real star of this pan of poultry is the lemon thyme sauce. Dried herbs, chicken broth, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a touch of cornstarch (for thickening) come together for a complementary set of flavors that will tantalize your tongue.

If herbed chicken covered in lemon and thyme isn’t enough for your taste buds, the meal is served over brown rice with a side of sautéed onions, fresh garlic and basil, sundried tomatoes, fire-roasted red bell pepper, and Brussels sprouts roasted in red wine vinegar and a touch of the Desert Gold rub. The final dish is a well-balanced set of flavors that Rodriguez describes as bright from the lemon juice, earthy with the sprouts, rich because of the roasted chicken, and fresh due to the tomato and onion.

At just 630 calories per serving, the Enlightened Lemon Thyme Chicken is a good option for summer that pairs well with any number of drinks on the menu. Rodriguez recommends the Lightswitch Lager, a house-brewed beer with only 140 calories, or the homemade lemonade.

Pucker Up and LemonBerry Zinger
at The Flying Cupcake
789 N. U.S. 31, Suite D, Greenwood | (317) 396-2696 | theflyingcupcakebakery.com

Cupcakes are the perfect dessert: They fit in your hand and can be eaten in a few bites, often with less guilt than eating a giant slice of its cake counterpart. At The Flying Cupcake in Greenwood, it’s hard to choose just one, as there are more than 80 flavors on the menu, baked from scratch.

One of the most popular flavors is the refreshing Pucker Up cupcake. Lemon chiffon cake is filled with tangy lemon curd and then topped with sweet lemon buttercream frosting, all made in-house. It’s garnished with a gummy lemon candy slice. Plan ahead, though, because this tasty treat is only available a few days per week.

If one cupcake isn’t enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, try the LemonBerry Zinger.  Vanilla cake batter is mixed with lemon juice before fresh blueberries are folded in for what general manager and chief happiness officer Carol Eakin calls “a good combination of lemon and blueberry.” The hand-held indulgence is then topped with homemade vanilla buttercream frosting.

Open seven days a week, The Flying Cupcake offers a welcome escape from summer’s heat. From the smell of freshly baked cake that welcomes you the moment you walk in the door, to the vintage décor and antiques that fill the store, you can enjoy any number of tempting treats. Following a special diet? No problem. Vegan and gluten-free options are also available.

Lemon Frozen Custard
at Ritter’s Frozen Custard
3219 W. County Line Road, Greenwood
(317) 859-1038 | ritters.com

Thirty years ago, an igloo appeared in Franklin, Ritter’s Frozen Custard. Specializing in frozen custard, which is like ice cream’s richer, more yolked-up cousin, Ritter’s Frozen Custard proceeded to open several more dome-shaped stores across Indiana and the Midwest.

One of the more popular summer flavors is lemon; at the Greenwood location you can enjoy this flavor every other Wednesday. The base is an unflavored white custard mix that’s combined with lemon flavoring and fresh lemon juice. Try it as is or add strawberries or blueberries for an extra flavor punch. Pop your concoction into a house-made waffle cone to really treat yourself.

If you prefer a non-dairy option, Greenwood store general manager Duane Stahl recommends the lemon Italian ice. There’s also sorbet, which has water and lemon for a more “in your face” tart.
Not sure if you want custard or ice? Try the lemon gelati: a frozen custard base with a layer of Italian ice and then another layer of frozen custard.

If you feel a bit nostalgic sitting outside on a warm summer night with the chatter of people around you, you can satisfy that feeling with the Lemon Shake-Up. This fresh squeezed lemonade consists of simple ingredients — lemons, sugar water and ice — and will take you back to times spent at county fairs. With a fresh lemon garnish the flavor remains to the last sip.