The Indy Burger Guy visited 317 Burger/None the Wiser Taproom on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.
I had first tried to visit 317 Burger a few weeks back, on a Saturday evening after work. However, when I drove by, there was nowhere – and I mean nowhere – to park. Not even in the complimentary lot down the block. So I shelved it, told myself ‘Next time, baby’ like Terrence Howard referencing a sequel he would never appear in, and opted instead to try Indy Stout House for the first time. Unlike Terrence Howard, however, I made a note to myself to try to make it back as soon as I possibly could – which I was able to do on my day off this week.
Apparently, lunch on a weekday is the right time to hit Broad Ripple if you want to find parking! There were a few spots left in the comp lot when I pulled in, but there was some street parking available as well (I was just too cheap to want to pay). A quick jaunt down Westfield Boulevard and I’m walking into 317 Burger.
Instantly, I was faced with a choice – left or right? From what I could see in both directions, there was ample seating in both – indeed, there didn’t seem to be too many people there yet – so I made an executive decision and headed right… which, as it turns out, is not the location of 317 Burger, but rather its sister establishment None the Wiser Taproom. (Honestly, there is absolutely no difference between the two locales that I could see, save that None the Wiser is a 21+ bar and 317 Burger is a more family-friendly dining establishment. The menus and specials were, as near as I could tell, identical in both locations, even if the decor was somewhat different.)
Once there, I encountered a man on a cell phone, who, I would find out later, was the owner.
“Can I help you, sir?” he asked.
“Are you guys open for lunch?” I asked. (They had been for at least 45 minutes by the time I arrived.)
“Oh, sure,” he nodded, gesturing toward the bar and returning to his phone call. He paused briefly in his call to hand me a menu and inform me that my server would arrive shortly, which she did. (I couldn’t help but be reminded of a similar exchange I’d had with the bartender at the Red Key Tavern during my visit there.)
After ordering my beverage from the diverse selection of local draft beers they have on tap, I placed my order for 317’s namesake burger – the 317 Burger. I asked my server’s opinion on the sides – housemade chips or hand-cut fries – which was met with a resounding ‘fries’ both from her and from the owner, who by this point had finished his call and joined us in a brief conversation about the menu. “You ordered one of our most popular burgers,” he said to me after I made the call for the hand-cut fries, “so you’re doing pretty well.”
The fries were a good call, by the way. Cooked to a beautiful golden brown and dusted with some kind of house seasoning blend, they were thick-cut, crispy on the outside, and hot and soft in the center – the way a good french fry should be!
But the real standout – the way it really must be at a place known for burgers – was the burger! The 317 Burger comes topped with – to paraphrase Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg – “not one or two or three, but FOUR! FOUR CHEESES!” American, Gouda, Provolone, and Swiss cheeses form almost a patty unto themselves as they are all masterfully melted over the top of the well-seasoned beef and topped by crispy peppered bacon. The top half of the durable bun is smeared with a garlic aioli, which provided both a great sauce element and a lot of great flavor as well.
While the four cheeses don’t really distinguish themselves in any tangible way, they are beautifully melted and provide a great textural contrast to the beef and the bacon. Personally, I was concerned that that much cheese would be difficult to melt properly, but the cooks back in 317 Burger’s kitchen must know what they are doing, because it was melted evenly and consistently across the whole burger.
But, the real draw of the 317 Burger is not the variety and balance of the toppings (though, I must admit, they are balanced very well), but the beef itself. It was perfectly seasoned, but subtly, not with an overwhelming spice mixture, just enough to bring out the natural flavor of the beef. It was also cooked to a perfect medium which made for a juicy burger. The bun, it should be noted, was also durable enough to stand up to the serious juiciness of this burger!
Really, if the 317 Burger has a single flaw, it’s that there’s not a fresh element – like some veggies (like onion or pickle) – to cut through the richness of the burger. I mean, four cheeses, plus bacon and aioli makes for a decadent bite, but it’s a lot to take on all at once without a burst of something fresh to break it up. Again, it’s a minor complaint – this was a seriously GREAT burger! – it still bears mention.
In fact, the 317 Burger was so good, that’s it’s worked it’s way up to tie for the second-best burger in Indy, tying with the Flamme Burger and Porky, both right behind the Double Cheeseburger at Workingman’s Friend. I’m not sure if there’s much higher praise I can give it than that, so anyone up near Broad Ripple would do well to swing by 317 Burger and help themselves to the signature sandwich!
FINAL RANKING: 9.1/10
317 Burger & None the Wiser Taproom
915 E. Westfield Blvd.
Cost Range: $$ ($7-$12)*
* Of their eighteen burgers on menu, three – the Bison Burger, the Diner Burger, and the Spicy Tuna – each sell for $13. The others range in price from $10-$12.