When it comes to food, Indiana doesn’t exactly have a signature item to claim. Sure, we may be surrounded by corn, but when it comes to cuisine, Indiana leaves the door pretty wide open.
Upon spending a little time back in my home state for the summer, I took a weekend with my father to visit Indianapolis to see what the city had to offer. Sure shopping and nightlife are cool, but what I really sought was a memorable meal to sink my teeth into.
What we decided to eat is an item that can generally be found in a five-mile radius wherever you may be in the country. It's an American classic, perhaps the most classic. While delicious in its basic elements, the stakes for even the simplest of meals have been upped in the modern day "foodie" era. Of course I'm talking about none other than the burger - which led me to Bru Burger, (410 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46204) - the top rated burger of 2013 on the Indy A-List, top five on the Indiana Insider Blog, #1 on Yelp Indianapolis, and #2 on Urbanspoon's Indianapolis Burger Joints.
While veering slightly off the downtown path towards Bru I wondered, "What exactly makes a burger spot the best? The add-ons? The beef? The atmosphere?" Upon approaching the restaurant and seeing a line wrapped out the door, I figured it had to be a combination of all three.
We had a brief 20-minute wait, which left adequate time to try out some drinks. Bru had a fully stocked bar featuring 16 rotating beer taps, signature cocktails, wine and a vast selection of bourbons and whiskeys. I tried their featured cocktail of the night, the Bourbon Tea, which was a refreshing blend of their signature bourbon, lemon, muddled mint leaves and syrup, which couldn’t have been more spot on for a mild summer night.
Throughout the evening, we kept the drinking local, as we enjoyed draft beers from Indiana breweries such as Triton, Bloomington Brewing Co, Flat 12 and Sun King.
We warmed up with their Tuscan dip - a tasty take on hummus, blended with sun-dried tomato, artichoke, feta and olive. It wasn’t exactly the item you'd expect to find at a 'burger spot' but Bru was clearly an artisanal, yet traditional joint as cheese and meat plates sat next on the menu to classics like chili cheese fries.
The signature chef burgers on the menu were likely the ones bringing so many people through the door so we wasted no time. I ordered the signature "Bru Bruger" which came equipped with sharp Italian Taleggio cheese, bacon, tomato jam, caramelized onion, chopped lettuce and mayo. It all co-existed beautifully and although I struggled to finish the large portioned burger, it was too good to leave a bite behind. I also had several samples of the "Black and Bleu Burger" which featured bacon, creamy gorgonzola cheese and mayo with a blackened beef patty cooked full of flavor. After scarfing plenty of burgers in my time, I felt they each had the makings of a great one. Once you go beyond a well cooked piece of meat the focus turns to making it a complete work of art where you can fully taste each ingredient.
So while you can't exactly reinvent the wheel when it comes to the burger, you can certainly build on to it. Bru was absolutely worth the praise and speaks volumes to the level of how our food is evolving. Even the simple cheeseburger gets a huge upgrade. In this new age of multiple competitive cooking shows and Instragramming all of our meals, more and more is being done to make traditional food stand out. Even the simple cheeseburger has room for renovation.