The Indy Burger Guy visited the Willard on Sunday, April 1, 2018.
My wife and I found ourselves in historic downtown Franklin, Indiana on Easter Sunday, after receiving a call from her aunt asking if we wanted to meet at the Willard for a late lunch. Having not really been to Franklin much, I was not familiar with the Willard, nor was my wife, but apparently the place is an Indiana institution dating back to the 19th century.
I won’t go into the expansive history of the property (I’ll point you to their own website for that information), but the structure itself was originally built in 1860 as a house, then became a hotel, and finally, the family-friendly restaurant they are today. And, while the Willard is known for its pizza and chicken wings, they also have a few burgers on the menu. So, of course, I had no choice. I had to try one!
When my wife and I arrived, her aunt and cousin were already seated near the bar. We joined them and looked over the menu. Eventually, our waitress came over to take our drink orders and, when pressed, advised us on the menu. She raved about the pizza, the chicken wings, and the tenderloins before adding, “…and our burgers are pretty good, too.” Not the most ringing endorsement, buy hey – I’ve gotta stay on-brand, right?
I’m sorry to report that, all told, this burger was fairly underwhelming. The beef was under-seasoned (burgers require AGGRESSIVE seasoning, people!), though decently-cooked (mine was a bit overdone – more medium-well than a proper medium). The toppings were definitely fresh – iceberg lettuce, tomato slices, red onion, dill pickles, and mayo – though none are included on the burger normally. “All burgers come plain,” the menu proclaims, though – thankfully and mercifully! – there is no upcharge for the standard ingredients.
The burgers don’t come with the standard fries, but chips (or ‘crisps’ to any readers from the UK). Personally, I’m not a big fan of chips with a burger – I want more potato! – so I asked if I could substitute for cole slaw. The waitress informed me that, rather than an upcharge for a side (which I was expecting), I would have to pay full price for the slaw and still get the potato chips I didn’t want “because of the price difference.” I’d never heard of this before and was a bit stunned, but gave my chips to my wife’s aunt, who wanted something to go along with her chicken wings. (The cole slaw wasn’t too great either, truth be told.)
All things considered, I wasn’t overly thrilled with my trek to the Willard and, in the event I should return, will probably get something other than a burger – maybe one of those pizzas they seem so very proud of.
FINAL RANKINGS: 7.0/100
99 N. Main St.
Cost Range: $$ ($7-$12)