New Waterfront Restaurant Serves Guests Along Morse Reservoir
Photographer / Amy Garro
“It’s all about celebrating the lake life.”
That’s the way Matt Hall describes the concept that drives the Boathouse Kitchen & Swan Dive, his new waterfront restaurant and outdoor bar situated directly on Morse Reservoir in Cicero, about 40 minutes north of downtown Indy.
With a casual, fresh-made menu and a relaxed visual aesthetic with indoor and outdoor seating, the Boathouse is indeed a nod to life on the water. The walls inside are even adorned with lake photos submitted by Cicero and Noblesville locals.
“We try to celebrate the recreation of the lake through this place,” says Hall, who grew up near Morse Lake. “I’ve lived around here for 20-plus years, and it’s great to be able to open something that I hope will become a laid-back central point where the community can gather.”
The Boathouse menu features apps like crab dip, fresh guac and frickles (crispy fried pickles with horseradish), soups, dinner salads, burgers, as well as a dinner entree lineup that includes steak and potatoes, ribs and tried-and-true seafood faves like fish and chips and fish tacos.
“One thing that we’re excited about is that our Bud’s Brussels Sprouts have gotten a big following – they’re fried and tossed in vinaigrette so they’re a little different,” Hall adds. “We’ve kept a pretty simple menu up to this point, with dishes we think people will come back for again and again.”
The Swan Dive outdoor bar serves up specialty house cocktails like the Cucumber Caprioska, made with cucumber vodka, lime juice and simple syrup, and the Mighty Mite Old Fashioned, in addition to frozen drinks like the namesake Swan Dive (orange vodka, elderflower liqueur and fresh grapefruit).
This fall the Boathouse will introduce carry-out curbside service, which Hall says will make pickup orders more convenient for patrons in the chilly months.
The Boathouse is far from Hall’s first restaurant rodeo. He’s a third-generation restaurateur as the grandson of Don Hall, founder and namesake of the Don Hall’s Restaurants chain in northern and Central Indiana. Don founded his first restaurant in Fort Wayne more than 70 years ago, and Matt’s father Bud helped to expand the line of family-owned establishments, which currently consist of more than a dozen eateries including The Gas House, Takaoka Steakhouse, Triangle Park and The Factory in Fort Wayne.
“Since I was five years old I was tagging along with my dad visiting the restaurants and grew up observing how things worked behind the scenes,” says Hall, adding that the Boathouse is not part of the Don Hall’s chain of restaurants. “After college I dove right into it.”
Hall helped run Indy’s Castleton Grill for 23 years before its 2017 closing and decided to bring a portion of his Castleton Grill staff to the Boathouse.
“We were thinking long-term, and we saw the potential of the area on Morse and the kind of business we could drive,” he explains. “It really checked all the boxes for us in terms of the zip code and the kind of community here, and we chose to take our focus away from Castleton.”
Hall secured the location on Morse Lake formerly occupied by the Lazy Frogg restaurant two years ago and began a construction build-out that he says was lengthy but necessary. The Boathouse officially opened in November of last year during the week before Thanksgiving and he feels pleased with the response from locals so far.
“The volume and demand was intense this summer, and I’m glad we took our time on construction and really getting it right on the menu and the look,” Hall says. “We served 1,200 people a day. It was worth all the preparation, and it was good to have a pre-season of sorts to get ready before summer hit. We have a great core crew and we learned a lot this summer, and I think fall will be good too.”
The Boathouse Kitchen & Swan Dive is located at 409 West Jackson Street in Cicero. For more information including hours of operation and a full menu go to boathousekitchen.com or call 317-376-1882.