The Indy Burger Guy visited the Mass Ave Pub on Sunday, January 1, 2017.
The wife and I made the trek downtown on New Year’s Day to meet with some friends of hers from college who were in town. Our initial plan to visit Chatham Tap ultimately fell through due to the massive influx of people there which made getting a table for six an impossibility, so we strolled down the street to Mass Ave Pub. Established in 2001 as the 745, they moved to their current location in 2007 after reconstruction caused by a collapsed kitchen in 2005.
We sat at a large table near the entrance and ordered a round of great local brews from the pub’s impressive on-tap beer selection. Then I glanced at the menu… and was surprised to see a lack of a ‘plain’ burger outside of a ‘BYOB’ option which seemed counter-intuitive to the spirit of the Indy Burger Guy. In that moment, I was faced with a decision (one that has led to an addendum in my initial guidelines): in the event that there is no standard burger OR namesake burger on the menu, I will select whichever burger sounds most palatable to me at that moment. (This is a very subjective method of choosing which will, I’m certain, lead to some interesting results down the road.)
For me, this day, I decided on the Onion Jack Burger, which came topped with sauteed onions and a slice of jack cheese and served on a kaiser-style bun. Additional toppings included tomato, iceberg lettuce, a slice of onion, pickles, and mayonnaise. (The mayo came on the table as a separate condiment – alongside mustard and ketchup – but I added it to my burger in this instance as the menu included it as a ‘standard’ topping. Not so with the ketchup or mustard.)
To be honest, I was fairly underwhelmed by the Onion Jack burger. The biggest culprit was the beef. It may have been really good quality meat, but it was overcooked to somewhere between medium well and well done (when I requested it prepared medium) and woefully underseasoned. Aggressive seasoning is essential to a good burger and Mass Ave Pub definitely missed the mark with this one.
The addition of more onion to the burger was also a questionable decision. With the sauteed onions nestled under the melted cheese, the addition of a full slice of onion (not just a few rings, but a full slice) was overkill and, to be honest, completely unnecessary.
The bun also left much to be desired. I’ve shared my thoughts on kaiser-style buns time and time and time again, so I won’t delve into much more detail on those here. This bun seemed smashed to be even thinner so that not only did the bottom bun fall apart, but even the typically thicker top bun was beginning to disintegrate. This is a compromise of bun integrity unlike any I’ve seen up to this point before!
Even the fries were subpar, looking more like they’d come out of a bag of frozen fries than coming from fresh potatoes (which, let’s be honest, isn’t that hard to do nowadays). In fact, aside from the beer, I wasn’t too terribly impressed by what I found at Mass Ave Pub.
FINAL RANKING: 6.9/10
Mass Ave Pub
745 Massachusetts Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Cost Range: $ ($6 and under)*
*The priciest burger at the Mass Ave Pub is $$6.95, which – while over $6 – is under $7, making this the best designation for it.