Chumley's: Stalwart grub 

Is there any form of nourishment that says "stalwart" better than pub food? Whether consumed at lunchtime or late at night, the hungry beast in us seems wired to wrap our mouths around comestibles fried and/or charbroiled. And where better to find this form of repast than Broad Ripple, a place where, on any given day or night, a panoply of appetites can be seen converging?

Located along Broad Ripple's namesake avenue, midway between Guilford and Carrollton, Chumley's (838 Broad Ripple Ave.) holds its own at what amounts to this neighborhood's ground zero. Like so many of its nearby competitors who cater to younger adults - or those who fancy themselves in that category - it is designed to offer patrons a chance to take a load off their feet and a) watch the game or endless sports highlights on one or more of many video screens, while b) scoping the parade of passersby on the narrow sidewalk outside.

We stopped by for lunch on a breezy early Fall afternoon. Finding the interior space a bit dark, we opted to sit in Chumley's heated streetside gallery, where we could avail ourselves of the view - glimpses of souls more virtuous than ourselves, sweating away their lunchtime on treadmills, across the street at Cardinal Fitness.

Chumley's is proud of its beer selection. There are 50 brews on tap and another 52 labels available by the bottle. You can choose from an array of appetizers to wash down with your lager, ale or stout, ranging from Mini Corn Dogs served with honey mustard ($7.50) to the more standard Potato Skins topped with blended cheese and bacon and served with salsa and sour cream ($7.75). We opted for an intriguing middle way, Fried Green Beans served with ranch dressing ($6.00). This was a platter-size serving of string beans fried up in a batter that struck a happy medium between the lightness of tempura and the carapace found at some establishments. The beans seemed moist but their flavor was overpowered by the tawny sheaths in which they were encased. Onion Rings ($5.50) would have been a better bet.

Chumley's takes their burgers seriously, offering no fewer than 18 variations on this theme, including a veggie option. You can order a half-pound burger topped with BBQ sauce, Cajun seasoning, sauerkraut, ham and pineapple, jalapenos, even peanut butter. We wanted to taste the beef, not disguise it, so we had Chumley's Cheeseburger with provolone ($7.50). Cooked medium, it was sufficiently tender with a nice char-broiled flavor.

We also tried the Fish 'N' Chips Pub Plate ($10.50). Chumley's version of this pub staple features a pair of Tilapia filets in a crispy beer batter. Tilapia turns out to be an inspired choice for this treatment -- light, juicy and delicately flavorful. The chips, alas, were a generic afterthought. This plate usually comes with Cole Slaw, but the kitchen was out of stock, so our server offered a House Salad, instead. This took the form of a mid-sized bowl stuffed with chopped Romaine and topped with diced tomatoes that looked as though they'd been waylaid on their way to a salsa recipe. The Bleu Cheese dressing on the side wasn't too thick and contained plenty of pungent bits.

If service was a tad slow for folks trying to squeeze lunch between the brackets of a midday break, it was certainly friendly. And the food was stalwart, indeed.

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David Hoppe

David Hoppe

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