The Indy Burger Guy visited Between the Bun on Friday, November 25, 2016.
*EDIT*: Since the writing of this review, the menu at Between the Bun has been updated to include a single patty variant of the Big Daddy called the Bleus Brothers and are no longer offering the Big Daddy as a part of their menu.
When the menu proudly maintains, “This is our signature burger!” that’s the one the Indy Burger Guy has his eye on!
But let’s rewind a bit. Between the Bun is a fairly recent addition to the Indianapolis burger landscape, having opened its doors back in 2012. In that short time, however, they have established themselves as one if the best burger joints in Central Indiana. They’ve been a regular fixture on the Indy Channel’s A-List since 2013 as one of the Top Burgers, even making their way to runner-up on the 2016 list. They’ve also been involved with the Indy Burger Battle, an annual burger showdown in July to benefit Building Tomorrow, taking home the runner-up prize in 2014 and the championship in 2015. They’ve been spotlighted in publications around town like the Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Monthly, and NUVO. It’s clear to see that Between the Bun is a force to be reckoned with in the Central Indiana burger community!
The good folks at BtB have been actively courting me on social media since mid-October, starting with the following tweet:
A bold claim that certainly captured my attention, to be sure. So, when I decided to leave my Black Friday burger fate to the Internet, BtB was quick to seize the opportunity and, when the dust had settled and the voting had finished, the Internet’s many Between the bun fans insisted that I drive down to Greenwood to try what this little place had to offer.
I pulled into the little residence-turned-restaurant (there are quite a few of these in Greenwood) and, upon stepping out of my car, the first thing I noticed was the smell of grilled beef wafting through the chilly autumnal air. I was instantly transported to my childhood, to backyard cookouts in summer months in Indianapolis. My hopes soared – this was going to be a great experience!
The decor was simple – several tables scattered about, each decorated with comic strips trimmed from old newspapers and metal signs on the walls ranging from film scenes to vintage advertisements. I picked a small two-top in the back and quietly read my book until the waitress came to take my order. (It was shaping up to be a very busy day and there was only one server working – ambitious! Still, despite the crowd that shuffled in after I took my seat – I arrived at the start of the lunch rush, just after noon – she was fairly attentive and worked diligently the entire time I was there.)
That’s when I saw it on the menu – The Big Daddy. “This is our signature burger!” the menu proclaimed. As you may recall, if anything will keep me from getting a ‘classic’ cheeseburger, it’s the restaurant’s signature burger. So I’m immediately drawn here… and there’s quite a bit to be drawn to here.
This is a serious burger, people, for those who like serious flavor. We’re talking two 8-0z. patties (yes, that’s a full pound of beef pre-cooked!) topped with two slices of cheddar cheese, blue cheese crumbles, spicy buffalo sauce (housemade, I’m given to understand), and applewood smoked bacon with leaf lettuce, a tomato slice, a couple rings of white onion, and three large dill pickle slices.
And, oh, this burger, you guys. Every bit as tasty as advertised – the ingredients are incredibly fresh, the beef expertly seasoned and perfectly cooked, and the flavors carefully balanced. The spiciness of the buffalo sauce plays perfectly against the earthy tang of the blue cheese, both of which sing in contrast to the delightfully smoky bacon. The cheddar works here well, though I’ve never found cheddar to be a particularly satisfying burger cheese – generally because it doesn’t always melt well. But even with all these flavors dancing about, there is no question that the perfectly-cooked, expertly-seasoned beef is the real star of this burger (as well it should be). As strong as the flavors of buffalo sauce and blue cheese tend to be, neither of them overwhelm or overpower the glorious fresh beef that Between the Bun uses to craft their signature burgers.
Unfortunately, the Big Daddy falls victim to what I call one of the classic burger blunders – the bun on which the burger is placed is not equal to the task of holding it. I’m a big proponent of what I call ‘bun integrity’ – that is, the ability of the bun to hold together under the weight of the toppings, sauces, and burger grease. To date, brioche has proven itself as the most ideal vessel, but even it has its shortcomings. The bun at Between the Bun is reminiscent of brioche and, for a lesser burger, it very likely would have held together perfectly well. However, the construction of the Big Daddy proved a key point to its undoing here – the buffalo sauce appeared to be applied directly to the bottom bun, which absorbed a goodly amount of sauce. When combined with the grease of the burger (prepared medium, as requested), the bottom bun began to completely fall apart, leading me to have to eventually flip the burger upside down in order to finish it.
It’s also incredibly messy. The sauce was almost everywhere. I even found some left on my thumb as I was leaving the restaurant. Eatability is a major factor with this burger between that sauce and the two hulking patties.
That said, I can honestly say that if the burger itself were placed on a more durable bun, the Big Daddy would have taken the top spot on my burger rankings list. While not in the top spot, however, the Big Daddy did receive a respectable score (below) and Between the Bun will receive a return visit from me as soon as I’m able to dine down in Greenwood again. Fair play, BtB… and well done!
FINAL RANKING: 8.9/10
Between the Bun
102 S. Madison Ave.
Greenwood, IN 46142
Cost Range: $$–$$$ ($7-$12, $13 and up)*
* Most of Between the Bun’s burgers fall between the $7-$12 range, save the ‘Sevin’ Bacon Burger ($12.39) and the Big Daddy ($13.99).