BRU Burger Bar
410 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46202
There are two types of burgers you typically find: your fast food type that are thinner and cooked all the way through (FIVE GUYS, Shake Shack, In-and-Out) and your gourmet burgers that are 1”+ thick. Bru Burger Bar falls in the second category.
We’ll start by saying that the entrance is a little confusing. You enter through the patio, not the ‘front’ door that’s on Alabama St. More people than you’d think are confused about this. The hostess was friendly and seated us promptly. There were four in our party and we were there for an early dinner, around 6pm, so it wasn’t too crowded at that point. By the time we left around 7:15pm, it was packed.
The atmosphere was laid-back and family friendly. There were all kinds of people there— from business men, to young couples having a date night, to large families with children. The noise level was moderate, even when it filled up toward the time we left.
We began by ordering the Nachos ($11) as an appetizer. The dish has corn tortillas, white queso, pickled jalapenos, lettuce, pico, sour cream and guacamole. It was a generous enough portion to share among all of us. We liked that the chips were not mushy and there seemed to be toppings on almost every chip. Sean liked that the cheese was creamy, rather than shredded cheese baked on top. The standout ingredient by far was the guacamole. It tasted very fresh and authentic, however, we would have liked to taste more lime. The worst ingredient was the pork. It tasted Sloppy Joe-like since it was boiled rather than smoked. The other meat option is chicken, or you can just order it without meat altogether.
Recommendation: We would order the nachos again, but without meat.
Sean also ordered the Sriracha Caesar Salad ($5 small/$8 large), which was a complete bust. I think the phrase was, “one of the worst salads I’ve ever had.” It comes with red onions, tomatoes, house croutons (we’re skeptical about the ‘house’ part), parmesan, and Sriracha drizzled on top. The salad was swimming in Caesar dressing that actually had no flavor at all. The dish could have been made better by…not serving it.
Recommendation: I think it’s pretty clear we would not order this again.
On to the burgers. Sean got the BRU Burger ($11) that comes with taleggio cheese, bacon, tomato jam, caramelized onions, chopped lettuce and mayo. The meat itself tasted fresh, but it wasn’t seasoned in any way. It was also slightly
overcooked (he asked for it medium and it came out medium well). The toppings were WAY too sweet for a burger, specifically the tomato jam, which overpowered everything else, even the cheese. Add to that the caramelized onions and suddenly it tastes more like a dessert than a main course. They did not do a good job of marrying savory and sweet here.
The telaggio cheese seemed too mild to compete with the other toppings and did not come through. The bacon was nice and crunchy, but the salty flavor couldn’t penetrate the sweet tomato jam. The meat to bun ratio (very important) was a good balance. The bun itself was not mushy, it was nicely toasted, and airy on the inside.
Recommendation: If you’re going to name an item after the restaurant (or vice versa), it had better be excellent. This was far from it, so we won’t be reordering in the future.
For my entrée, I got the Bacon Cheese Burger ($9). It comes with thick cut bacon, mayo, white cheddar, lettuce,
tomato and onions. Similar to the BRU Burger, the meat itself tasted fresh, but could have used some salt and pepper. The bacon was, indeed, cut pretty thick and cooked properly. I have had quite a few burgers from quite a few places in my life, and I can’t say that this is even as memorable as the last time I went to FIVE GUYS. There was nothing particularly special about this burger, but it did fulfill my burger craving. I don’t believe that you should over-season or over-spice every meal. A few basic ingredients can really stand out when cooked perfectly. Unfortunately this was not one of those times when less is more.
Recommendation: What was I talking about again?
Both of our burgers were large enough that we ended up only being able to eat half. You can also get a ‘burger snack’ if you want a smaller meal for only $4. It’s also important to note that the burgers do not come with a side of fries or onion rings. We did get one order of each to share with the table. You can add on fries for $2 or onion rings for $3.
The Fries ($2) seasoned perfectly with salt and spices—most likely paprika and cayenne. Sean’s slight complaint is that they could have used another minute in the fryer to make them crispier. He likes his fries crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I am not as picky about the crispiness, so that isn’t much of a factor for me. The fries come with homemade ketchup. As with all homemade ketchups we’ve had, they all taste a little too much like marinara sauce.
BRU’s Onion Rings ($3) were very good. They were thick and crispy, without being overcooked. These also come with the homemade ketchup. Perhaps pairing these with a few different dipping sauces would be a good option. You only get about four or five onion rings, so for $3, it’s not the best deal.
Recommendation for both: tasty add-ons, but they should be included in the price of a burger.
We ordered the Peach White Chocolate Bread Pudding ($5) for dessert. Surprisingly, this was the highlight of the meal. It was absolutely delicious and was enough for four of us to share. If you’re not a white chocolate lover, don’t let that deter you. We aren’t either, but all of these flavors came together wonderfully. The really picky foodies in us would have been thrilled with vanilla bean ice cream, but it was delicious regardless.
Recommendation: We will be going back just for the peach white bread pudding.
Overall: We would rate this 2.5 stars out of 5. With as many places in the city where you can find a good burger, this place does not stand out, especially considering this is the exact meal at which they are supposed to excel.
Location: Downtown Indy (Mass Ave. neighborhood)
Cuisine: American, Burgers
Dress Code: Casual