What makes a great burger? Everyone has his or her opinion. For me, the sine qua non of a great burger is that it should be convenient to eat, should not fall apart or explode into a thousand pieces when brought to the mouth, and can be consumed without recourse to cutlery. Ideally it should be edible whilst driving, but that's not essential.
It was with these minor concerns in mind that I recently paid a visit with some friends to Indy's newest burger joint, Bru Burger Bar. I shouldn't have worried. Stylish and professionally run by the restaurant group that gave us Mesh, Bru serves up a delicious selection of high quality sandwiches and bar food in a casual, contemporary setting. Even though we arrived right at the end of a particularly busy lunch service, we were seated quickly and without fuss. Throughout our meal, our exemplary server offered just the right level of knowledge and attention to detail without once being overbearing.
Everything at Bru is prepared in-house, including the bread, ketchup and mayonnaise. The burgers are all made to order from a proprietary blend of hormone-free sirloin, chuck and brisket, sourced from Creekstone Farms in Kansas. The chicken is Amish-raised. Certainly you pay a little more for meat of this quality ($8 to $11 for a burger), but it's worth every penny if you care about provenance. Appetizers are substantial, so count on sharing; four of us failed to finish the creamy and mildly spicy mac and cheese ($9, made with cavatappi and enhanced with a generous handful of shrimp), as delicious as it was. The Mezze platter ($10) offered a refreshingly light selection of Greek-inspired nibbles, including hummus and mushroom fritters. It disappeared pretty quickly.
As for the burgers, the two we sampled (Black and Blue and Provencal, each $10) were criminally good: the bread rolls nothing short of perfect, the toppings well thought out and complementary to the succulent meat. What's more, they were ideally proportioned, so that every ingredient could be tasted in a single bite. I've heard a few complain that sides are extra (fries $2 and onion rings $3), but the latter are quite possibly the best onion rings I've ever tasted and well worth the modest outlay. We also enjoyed a generous and vibrant shrimp po' boy ($10), a perfect lunch dish if you're looking for something on the lighter side. Not too spicy, it offers a pleasingly zingy mouthful of flavor.
If you have room at the end of the meal, I highly recommend the chocolate milkshake ($5), a behemoth, and quite a challenge if you've just eaten two courses. Lighter, but just as indulgent, is the chocolate mousse trifle, a decadent take on a classic (also $5). Rounding things out is an excellent selection of craft and imported beers on tap, a short and somewhat lackluster wine list, and a handful of signature cocktails. The Bru Margarita for $8 is a great way to work up an appetite.