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DINING: Et tu, Bru?

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Dining - A&E

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.
 

Dining The toppings make a big burger even bigger at the new Bru. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

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.•

–Lou Harry

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  1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

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