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DINING: Experiencing pub style, the Brockway way

Brockway Public House

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Dining - A&E

My husband and I aren’t “those people”—you know, the cutesy couples who sit next to each other in restaurant booths even when they’re dining alone? Sure, we love each other and all, but we think it makes for better dinner conversation if we can see each other. Until this month’s “House” dining theme sent us to Brockway Public House, that is.

Brockway (12525 Old Meridian St., Carmel, 669-8080) bills itself as the country’s first Dublin-inspired “industrial” pub. It’s a cool vibe—if you don’t want to sit in a chair with a back on it. It’s definitely more bar than restaurant, and the handful of “ground-level” tables all feature a wooden bench on one side and stools on the other.
 

Dining Brockway bills itself as the country’s first Dublin-inspired “industrial” pub. That’s great … and so is the fish. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

So there we sat, side-by-side on the bench, soaking up the European flavor even as we pored over the oversized bookmark that serves as the dinner menu. Think lots of dark wood accented with soccer scarves (Go West Ham!) and a friendly wait staff.

Properly primed with pints of Guinness, we asked our server for meal recommendations and ended up impressed enough to come back to try more options. The highlight of our two visits: the house-made pub chips, served with most entrees and also available as an appetizer ($4.75) covered with two kinds of melted cheese and bacon.

Served warm in both variations, the potato chips reminded us of a slightly more restrained version of the mound of “King Taters” we get every year at the Indiana State Fair—thin-sliced, deep-fried, starchy heaven. We momentarily questioned the authenticity of chips dripping in Colby and white queso cheeses, but decided it tasted too good for us to care. We were equally impressed with our other choices: the Fish & Chips ($9.95), the Reuben ($7.25) and the curiously named Double Bogey Burger ($8.95).

The fish is Brockway’s best-seller for a reason. Coated in a delicate-yet-hearty batter and fried until golden brown, the mild white fish was prepared perfectly, keeping its flaky texture despite the trip to the deep fryer. The only improvement we’d make: switch out the standard steak fries for the aforementioned chips. Oh, those chips.

The Reuben likewise was solid, featuring Angus corned beef that’s sliced in-house and served on marbled rye bread with the expected sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing. That sandwich comes with “Celtic rings,” paper-thin-sliced onion rings fried in a tasty Harp beer batter infused with enough cayenne pepper to give it a noticeable zing.

But it was the burger, of all things, that got my husband’s attention. Brockway uses a flattop grill, covering the meat with a lid so it is steamed and grilled at the same time. The result is darn juicy. The Double Bogey is actually two patties—dressed with bacon, cheddar and white queso—served side by side on grilled sourdough bread instead of a bun. It’s messy, but memorable.

Brockway was busy on both visits, its customers clad in soccer shorts and business attire alike. Everyone else seemed perfectly happy perched on stools as they nursed their pints and pub chips.•

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Last in our month-long series of “House” restaurant reviews.

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