The Indy Burger Guy visited Between the Bun in Greenwood again on Saturday, July 15, 2017. For more information about his previous visits, read his reviews of The Big Daddy (which has currently been renamed to the Bleus Brothers Burger) and The Thai One On.
As I type this review, it’s been a year since I started eating burgers and writing reviews for this website. That’s a lot of burgers in one year! In that time, I’ve been to a lot of great places and tried a lot of great burgers, but I have to say… Between the Bun is shaping up to be one of my favorite places to grab a burger!
There’s a consistency in quality whenever I’m there. Whether I’m there by myself, with my wife, or with family, I somehow always am treated to a consistently well-cooked and tasty burger that is every bit as creative as it is delicious. And, despite the fact that I’ve reviewed them before, I’ve somehow gone without commenting on the nature of Between the Bun’s playful, fun, and diverse burger menu. That needs to be rectified.
When you typically think of a cheeseburger, there are certain toppings that come ‘standard’: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, a condiment or two, some kind of melted cheese, maybe some bacon. More adventurous burger aficionados have taken to more daring ingredients – sauteed mushrooms, fried eggs, peanut butter, jalapenos and other chiles, sriracha as a condiment.
And then there are people who seem to take the rule book on what a burger is perceived to be and just chuck it out the window. Anything goes! Pineapple, fried pickles, macaroni and cheese, philly cheesesteak, cookie butter, andouille sausage, Doritos corn chips – any and all of these things can be burger toppings if you’ve got the imagination and the daring-do to try them.
Between the Bun is the kind of burger place who are in no way bound to ‘burger purity’ and there’s something beautiful in that, in a way. Yes, their burgers are beef (in that way, I’m something of a ‘burger purist’), but they do offer turkey burger, veggie burger, and grilled chicken breast substitutions at no additional cost on any of their fifteen specialty burgers, plus their rotating ‘Burger of the Moment’ (which, when last I was there, was their Nacho Burger, which came topped with nacho cheese Doritos, jalapenos, and a ranch-based sauce). Not only are the toppings out-of-the-box, but the burger names are a delightful combination of puns and pop culture references – from the pulled pork-topped Boss Hogg to the Hawaii Five-O Burger, which comes with sauteed pineapple – sure to make anyone chuckle and Bob Belcher incredibly jealous.
And tit’s that kind of creativity (not to mention attention to quality) that has helped to solidify Between the Bun as one of the most notable burger stops in Central Indiana. They’re the kind of place where I glance at the menu and make two choices: one burger to try today and another to try next time.
And you might remember that when my wife and I stopped by Between the Bun last time (and I reviewed the Thai One On), I had a bite of her Cookie Monster and resolved then and there to try it next time! True to my word, when we took some of my wife’s family there, I ordered this very unconventional burger.
I’ve done the peanut-butter-on-the-burger thing before and talked at length about how much I liked it. The Cookie Monster, though, is a play on that basic conceit – it keeps the same basic flavor types while modifying the actual ingredients themselves. A typical peanut butter burger is going to have three main elements (other than the burger and cheese, of course): peanut butter, jalapenos, and bacon. There’s a rhyme and reason for these ingredients. Call it a question of balance – there’s a sweet element (peanut butter), a spicy element (jalapenos), and a salty/smoky element (bacon). If one of these elements is missing, it’s going to throw off the whole balance of the burger and something is going to get either overwhelmed or lost in translation. These three elements are necessary to achieve a proper taste and flavor balance in the burger.
And Cookie Monster takes those elements, switches them up a bit, and manages to stick the landing quite effectively. (In fact, the Cookie Monster managed to take second place at last year’s Bull Burger Battle in Indy – no small feat!) All the elements are there:
- The sweet element here is cookie butter. For those of you unfamiliar with cookie butter (as my wife was when she first tried the Cookie Monster), it’s a spread – not unlike peanut butter or Nutella – made from Speculoos (German shortbread) cookie crumbs. It has a much more pronounced sweetness than typical peanut butter.
- The spicy element is sriracha. You know sriracha – the big red bottles in the Asian foods aisle of the supermarket with a rooster on the front? It’s one of the more popular hot sauces available and its’ not typically used all on its own in many restaurant applications (I mainly see it stirred into mayonnaise or ranch dressing)… but it works here.
- The salty/smoky element is bacon. Because, when it comes to one ingredient that does both of those things really well, it can only be bacon. Accept no substitutes.
And when those elements meet atop Between the Bun’s flame-grilled half-pound burger with melted pepper jack cheese with lettuce and white onion, the result is quite tasty! As with a typical peanut butter burger (Between the Bun calls there’s the PB&J – the ‘J’ stands for jalapenos – and it includes maple syrup as well), the three flavor profiles merge to create a truly wonderful and well-balanced flavor profile. The crispy bacon makes for a great texture contrast also, otherwise there would be mostly sauciness happening, which is not always a favorable texture.
The brioche bun that holds everything together does a good job, but having two saucy elements on a burger does make for a bit of a mess – there was cookie butter all over my hands both during and after my dining experience. I also noticed that the melted pepper jack cheese kind of got lost in the shuffle. It wasn’t really spicy enough to shine through the other ingredients and, with the creamy melty cookie butter put right on top of it, the cheese was lost amid all the gooey-ness. (I think spreading the cookie butter on the bun rather than on top of the patty would help to alleviate some of this.)
All told, though, the creativity and the great and surprising flavor of the Cookie Monster make it a fun spin on a neo-classic burger that is well worth your time and energy to track down! It’s just another reason why making the journey down to Greenwood to Between the Bun is such a good idea!
FINAL RANKING: 9.01/10
Between the Bun
102 S. Madison Ave.
Greenwood, IN 46142
Cost Range: $$ ($7-$12)*
*Only the Sevin Bacon Burger clocks in above $12 (and, at $12.49, just barely so).