The Indy Burger Guy visited Punch Burger on Monday, September 12, 2016.
I rarely find myself in or around Carmel, so when life had me passing within ten minutes of Punch Burger’s Carmel location, I decided to swing by quickly and grab one of their burgers. The Carmel Punch Burger is located on Old Meridian St. in a great little strip mall filled with eateries of all kinds with small apartments sitting above them. It reminds me a bit of similar sorts of strip mall/apartment combos that I’ve seen popping up around town – like at the Ironworks, where Michael Symon‘s B Spot is situated.
The ambiance inside Punch Burger is a hodgepodge of styles – clean white furniture mixed with a wooden table here, some metallic lamps there. Still, nothing looks out of place, the decor laid out down to the smallest detail. A wall-sized chalkboard haphazardly lays out the menu, necessitating more than just a simple passing glance. A long flattop behind the counter burns hot, cooking every burger right after you order it. The whole place has a sort of an industrial-chic vibe that seems pretty standard for a lot of restaurants these days.
The Punch Cheeseburger was beautiful to behold. It came to my table open-faced, the burger, topped with perfectly melted American cheese, and condiments – mayo and ketchup – on the bottom bun and the fresh toppings – lettuce, tomato, red onion, and fresh, possibly housemade pickles – adorning the top bun. The bun itself was toasted if not a bit on the flimsy side. (More on this in a moment.) The Punch Cheeseburger is the third cheeseburger I’ve had in my ongoing burger quest to be served open-faced (following the Big Pickle and Lucy) and I think I’ve come to a conclusion as to why: when a restaurant serves you an open-faced burger, they wanna show off!
And its’ not difficult to see why. Punch Burger certainly has made a commitment to quality at its two area locations. The beef is locally sourced from Fischer Farms in Jasper, IN, specializing in grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone free meats. They actually provide to a number of local restaurants and specialty groceries in and around Central Indiana. The veggies that comprise the toppings are also incredibly fresh – the pickles in particular being so fresh that, to the untrained eye and palate, they might easily be mistaken for cucumbers.
This burger is not without his flaws, though, despite its great pedigree and freshness. As I mentioned before, I found the bun to be rather flimsy and, to all who’ve read a review on this blog before, you know how highly I esteem bun integrity. (For the uninitiated: it’s crucial.) I was two bites in before the burger started to completely fall apart. This was only partially due to the bun, though. I’m not entirely sure why – maybe the meat was packed too tightly or not tightly enough, maybe it was a bit overcooked – but the actual patty itself broke apart, falling off the burger and onto the plate.
Also, the condiments were scalding! The mayo and ketchup were liberally applied between the just-grilled beef and the toasted bun, making for a molten mass of liquid shooting out in all directions upon my first bite, including into my mouth. It was a tasty burger, sure, but I’m not sure it’s worth the burnt tongue I sustained as a result of boiling condiments.
Final verdict: the Punch Cheeseburger is a tasty, high-end, fast food-style burger that stumbles a bit in its execution. It’s definitely a burger worth your time, but it’s far from perfect.
Two Central Indiana locations:
137 E Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
12525 Old Meridian Street, #100
Carmel, IN 46032
Cost Range: $–$$ ($6 or below; $7-$12)*
*While the Punch Cheeseburger runs $6.50, the rest of Punch Burger’s custom burger creations run right a $7.50, the low end of the next highest range, hence the straddling cost range.