Dessert is the best. I think we can all agree, even if we’re trying to scarf down kale and quinoa bowls. The Indy dessert scene has really been looking up the last couple of years, with the addition of places like Gallery Pastry Shop and The Cake Bake Shop. I love knowing there is a perfect place for an after-concert treat or middle-of-shopping-spree snack. The Lemon Bar is Indy area’s newest sweets addition (It’s in Zionsville, but close enough). It’s owned by The Flying Cupcake, who also owns my favorite neighborhood doughnut shop, The Dancing Donut. I’ve been a fan of The Flying Cupcake for years (great vegan options, btw), so I hopped right over to The Lemon Bar during opening week.
Let’s start with the atmosphere. First, it’s in downtown Zionsville, which I adore. And when you walk in, it looks like you stepped into your grandma’s retro 50’s kitchen. Busy wallpaper, eclectic lighting, and crowded countertops make you drop any idea of pretense or formality and just get excited for some really good baking. The menu features cupcakes and cakes by the slice, but is also experimenting with lunch-type items, such as soups, salads, and sandwiches. I’ve heard they are working off a hot plate, so don’t expect options requiring a full kitchen, but hey! I like soups and sandwiches! I was most excited by their bar menu, which includes wine, craft beer, house cocktails, and boozy milkshakes. I definitely have a bias towards boozy milkshakes because they are so.much.fun.
So it all sounds good, right? Charming space and quaint offerings? And here’s where the story takes a bad turn. I think they just have a bit to iron out. I took my sister, Leigh, on an early Friday afternoon and we had to wait a while to be noticed and then seated. Our server didn’t really seem to happy to be working and didn’t explain the menus or ever refill our water. We had to shuffle through 4 different menus to read all the options. I ordered a boozy milkshake, but was told liquor was not offered until after 4pm. This was not mentioned anywhere on social media or their website. The staff was able to make an exception since we drove 30 minutes to try them, but I think that should be clearly stated in advance. I ended up with the “Happy Birthday to Me” shake while Leigh tried the “Cookies and Cream.” We ordered a basket of fries with homemade aioli to snack on while eating our ice-cream. The aioli recipes need some modifications to be crave-worthy and the fries were pricey ($8) for being so plain.
Overall? I think The Lemon Bar has great potential, but needs to get organized before being a dessert destination or challenging any pre-existing local favorites. I talked to one of the managers at The Dancing Donut last week and she mentioned it has been really hard to find good staff and transition to serving food instead of just sweets, like their other locations. I think they should consolidate their menus, specify time restrictions on drinks, and improve their service in order to highlight their quality products. My first visit didn’t make the best impression, but I like dessert, so I’m willing to sacrifice myself and give it another try, just not anytime soon.
Overall Rating: 3.5