There’s very little that hasn’t been piled betwixt beef and bun, but while Bru Burger Bar (410 Massachusetts Ave., 635-4278) doesn’t break any new ground, it does bring a shot of dining energy to mid-Mass Ave. That it does so in the problematic space that formerly housed Elements and Urban Element II would be enough reason to celebrate its arrival.
But there’s more.
You might have trouble picking a burger—and more trouble picking up one of these sizable creations. We tried a range of the towering beasts, starting simple with The Beginning ($8)—an American cheeseburger with standard pickle, mayo, mustard and garden (lettuce and tomato)—and attempted something gutsier with the Blazing Saddles ($9). The former proved Bru knows its basics. The latter—topped with habanero cheese, roasted jalapenos and chipotle remoulade—surprisingly lacked kick. Blame that in part on the substantial bun, which absorbed much of the spice—if it was there at all.
A Mexicali BBQ Burger ($10) proved more interesting, with white queso, roasted chili, guacamole and BBQ sauce. (There’s also a fried onion involved, but that just got in the way and was quickly set aside). Beyond burgers, Bru swimmingly handled a Country Fried Shrimp Po Boy ($10) with buttermilk shrimp and red chili aioli.
I’d praise louder if only Bru’s kitchen
hadn’t delivered, on two separate occasions, my medium well burger as medium rare. If you are all about the burger, nailing customer requests is essential. On one visit I did send it back and, to its credit, the kitchen not only got it on the second shot but management also took it off my bill. A class move.
Bru Fries (a $2 side or a $6 appetizer) are crisp and medium thick, with enough soft potato in the center. With the appetizer portion, you get black pepper mayo and chipotle BBQ sauce along with the house ketchup.
Got a smaller appetite? Well, maybe you should have gone somewhere else. In lieu of relocating, though, there’s the Burger Snack ($4) or a quartet of salads (each $5/$8) including a Buttermilk Cobb with cucumber, bacon, red onion, egg and gorgonzola finely chopped into a flavorful blend.
Even though Bru is related to Mesh, the fine eatery up the street, the vibe here is more Bazbeaux-ian, with bar patrons (there’s a strong draught beer lineup), family diners, youthful urban adventurers, and other Mass Ave denizens already turning this into a comfortable hangout. After just a few weeks, it already feels like a local favorite in this happily burger-chain-free zone.•