The Indy Burger Guy visited BRU Burger Bar in Carmel on Saturday, December 18, 2016.
One of the first questions people ask when they find out I have a burger blog is: “Where’s the best burger in Indianapolis?”
When I share my thoughts on the subject, the inevitable second question becomes: “Have you been to BRU Burger?”
BRU Burger, founded by the Indianapolis-based Cunningham Restaurant Group in 2011, has quickly become synonymous in and around the city with quality cheeseburgers. They were voted home of Indy’s best craft burgers by NUVO this year and have been recognized locally by the Indy Channel A-List and Indianapolis Monthly. They’ve also received national attention from Esquire Magazine, MSN, and The Burger Guide. I’d be hard-pressed to find a more lauded burger spot in the state!
Due to some inclement weather, BRU was fairly empty when I walked in, which was a good thing for me, because I was in the mood for a burger! The atmosphere is largely upscale, almost fine dining with tall wooden tables and an overall sleek look. I was seated in the bar area, where I was able to spy the impressive selection of local beers available on tap. Black cloth napkins wrapped my silverware which sat beside a plastic encased one-sheet menu. Before long, my server stopped by and my order was in.
On my plate? The namesake Bru Burger! It’s an impressive burger to say the least – a half pound patty crafted from a blend of ground chuck, sirloin, and brisket, topped with Taleggio cheese, caramelized onions, tomato jam, bacon, shredded iceberg lettuce, and mayonnaise.
A brief sidebar, if you’ll do me the indulgence: about this time last year, I was employed as a cheesemonger at the Market District up in Carmel. I love cheese, you see, and have for quite some time. For this, I was duly impressed to see a burger topped with Taleggio. For those of you who might not know, Taleggio is an Italian semi-soft washed-rind cow’s milk cheese (which makes it kind of like French Brie) that has a wonderfully pungent aroma and a great funky flavor. When I first tried it a few years ago, I fell in love with it. To find it on a burger was a wonderfully pleasant surprise!
That funkiness was right at home on the Bru Burger! Due to its semi-soft nature, the Taleggio melted beautifully and the great flavor that I love married well with the tomato jam that topped the burger. It had a great freshness to it with wonderful acidity from the tomatoes. Both of these provided a nice counterpoint to the salty bacon and the sweetness of the caramelized onions. In fact, the Bru Burger provided one of the most balanced flavor profiles of any burger I’ve yet had. The ingredients were expertly paired and portioned for what amounted to an incredibly flavorful burger experience.
The meat, too, was something to be lauded. It was definitely fresh and perfectly cooked to my preferred medium. It is expertly seasoned and manages to hold its own incredibly well against the powerful flavors here at play. Whoever is back in the kitchen cranking out these burgers certainly knows what they’re doing!
The bun was a brioche bun which definitely had the density to hold up to the melange of messy ingredients and an incredibly juicy burger. It held together until the end, but I could definitely feel the bottom bun starting to slip within the last few bites.
Eatability was a major factor with this burger. While the bun did a serviceable job of holding the burger together, it was still a messy endeavor eating it. The first bite alone sent a practical geyser of burger grease down my arm and onto the table. Usually, when I pick up a burger, I don’t put it back down again until it’s finished, but I found myself forced to put my burger down after only one bite to clean the grease stripe down my arm and pooled around my plate.
There is a $2 upcharge to add french fries to your burger, but I’d recommend going ahead and taking the hit. The fries are hand-cut and seasoned masterfully. The array of housemade sauces to dip them in are impressive as well. The ketchup – made in house – is made with roasted tomatoes and has a wonderfully smoky-sweet flavor. The black pepper mayo is creamy with the right amount of black pepper kick. The honey mustard has an almost perfect balance of sweet and heat. The dill ranch is so creamy and so utterly tasty. The sweet honey chipotle barbecue sauce had more sweet than heat, but was tasty just the same. I’d recommend you try them all.
All told, however, the Bru Burger is an out-and-out delight! Also, as a means of giving credit where it’s due, I really need to take a moment to address the staff at BRU Burger. My server, Jo Anna, and the manager, Craig, were both incredibly knowledgeable, warm, and inviting. If the food itself wasn’t enough to bring me back, the hospitality offered by these two was above and beyond! It made a great restaurant experience even better!
FINAL RANKING: 9.0/10