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DINING: Feeling the heat at southside independent burger joint

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Dining - A&E

Technically, can you be between one thing? Not according to spell check, which insisted that I change “thing” to “things” in the previous sentence. But I’m guessing grammarians aren’t the primary audience for Between the Bun (102 S. Madison Ave., Greenwood, 300-8327), a scrappy local burger joint with big aspirations.

Dining Between the Bun isn’t shy about using peppers on nearly everything. (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

Its goal: “To create the finest burger this world has ever tasted, end of story.”

And while we didn’t find that, we did find an easygoing place where the tables are layered with 1950s-era Life magazine covers, overhead speakers played Dexys Midnight Runners (quite possibly the most 1980s thing to come out of the 1980s), the house salad includes both bacon and pepperoni, the T-shirts are available in 2XL, and the kitchen has no fear of hot sauce. Its subhead is “burgers, dogs and more” so we opted to try a burger, a dog, and more.

Let’s start with the “more.” Or, to be more accurate, the “lots more.” Specifically, the Mixed Bag ($9.79), an appetizer sampler that includes fried pickles, bacon cheese fries, and Great Balls of Fire. The first two are familiar bar food staples given solid treatment here. The last one consists of deep fried pepper jack cheese balls sprinkled with seasoning and dippable in Horsey Ranch sauce. While they were hot, there was no need to call an EMT.

For the dog, we took a chance on the Dog Pound ($7.29). Here, a deep-fried dog—think outer-skin crunch rather than corn dog shell—was adorned with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar jack cheese, onion, relish and barbecue sauce. Sloppy? Of course. But State Fair good.

The burger was much like the ambience, melding a little of everything. The menu called it the PB&J Burger ($9.29), despite a lack of J. Instead, maple syrup sweetened the beef and peanut butter combo. The kitchen threw on some bacon and jalapenos, because why not? I wonder what caused someone to think it was a good idea to mix grilled ground beef, peanut butter, bacon, jalapenos and maple syrup, but I’m glad someone experimented.

Also on the menu: quesadillas, chicken dishes, and the playfully named Notorious PIG hickory-smoked pulled pork sandwich. Each sandwich comes with a choice of fries, tater tots, house mac and cheese, or cottage cheese. Our tots weren’t significantly different from what we’d empty from a box into a toaster oven on a desperate night. The Mac, like the burger, combined the usual with a wild-card ingredient. This time, it was a drizzle of barbecue sauce. Definitely an interesting changeup from the mac and cheese norm—just as Between the Bun is an interesting changeup from the burger place norm.•

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  • hmmm
    Well, I was going to try this place out - burger descriptions on the menu looked great and I'm usually in agreement with Lou's reviews. Now that I've read the comments along with the owner's response, I think I'll look for a place that values it's customers and pass on this one.
  • Hmmm
    This is a bizarre comment string if I have ever seen one..."I am unsure how I was combative" as a cold open on a comment is pretty telling I'd say, sounds like you are still ticked off about having to explain yourself, assuming you really are the owner...food costs are up granted...maybe you need a menu board that you can change on a whim...the sticker doesn't cut it man, and on top of that, the coupon got the guy in the store in the first place, so to render in the first experience sticker shock, and then trapping your poor waitress in the middle of that exchange, and sending the guy out feeling cheated and bewildered...sign me up for some of that anytime...and then the "hot tub" line enters Marshall's comment, just when he's making sense...I hope you do get invited to the Hot Tub Marshall, you do sound like you'd be respectful...maybe Scott can cater that little party...I rarely laugh out loud reading a restaurant review or the comment section...big bonus...your comment is funny JT, and Stephen, as someone who owned a restaurant once (I keep trying to expunge that from my memory), I can see the expression on your face because it is the same one I had when I read this.
  • Wow
    As a restaurant consultant I would have to say "wow". This sort of behavior really makes my job easy. The customer is always right when it comes to any issue that is going to cost the business Minimally. The cost of retaining business is so much cheaper than the cost of finding new guests. Sometimes you can take that problem and turn it into a real opportunity to impress.You can get a hamburger anywhere but what is really importanat is respect. That is all the consumer really wants...to be heard and respected.
  • PB&J
    The J in the PB&J is for jalepenos...
  • hot tub and cheese
    And, somewhere, a hot tub owner is wondering why you're commenting on the price of cheese.
  • Sorry
    Somehow, a sentence about a hot tub was inserted into my previous comment... Please disregard... Lol
    • Lol
      I TRULY hope that isn't actually the owner coming on here to try to justify charging a price different than what was printed in a menu!!!! Prices subject to change? Ok, but you absolutely MUST alert the customer before they place their order. No business owner can be so ignorant, can they? Hopefully for them the quality of Caleb! Can we come swim in your hot tub ? I'll make sure everyone is respectful their food is better than the quality of their business practices, otherwise I don't see them making it.
    • Owner Response
      I am unsure how I was combative by explaining that food prices had increased and in turn we had to increase some of our prices. I explained that we added the stickers to the front of the menu to help explain this. You would have only been charged for cheese if you would have upgraded to a different type rather than American which does incur an upcharge but not $.20. The increases in pricing were anywhere from $.15 to $.30. I find it strange how the customers account of what happened is so much different than what actually transpired. Thanks for stopping in and we do appreciate your business and I apologize that you left unhappy. Feel free to bring your receipt in and I will gladly see if there were any mistakes while your order was being rang in. If there was indeed a charge for cheese that was incorrect, I will gladly refund you the $.75 and upgrade in cheese actually cost. Again, thank you for visiting Between the Bun.
      • Beware
        I tried this place a few weeks ago after seeing a 10% coupon in the local Reach Mag. My wife and I both got burgers, fries, and a drink while my daughter got a hot dog kids meal. Once finished eating, we all agreed the food was decent and that we might well try it again. I passed our waitress the coupon and, after some delay, she returned with the check...$35 and change for 2 burgers and a hot dog kids meal...with 10% taken off. Kind of expensive for lunch I thought. Upon closer examination of the bill, this place had increased the price of everything we ordered and THEN took the discount from the coupon, i.e. the MENU price for the soft drinks was $1.99 but the bill read that ours were each $2.19. They did this for every item, even getting creative by charging an extra $.20 for cheese when we both ordered cheeseburgers. I didn't do all of the math, but I think my total may have even surpassed the menu prices even with the used coupon. When I explained to the waitress that the prices on my bill did not match the prices on the menus we ordered from, she said they had ordered new menus. When I explained that our contract was based on the prices they offered in writing, she volunteered to get the owner. The owner came out and immediately offered the same explanation of not having the new menus at the store yet, but in a much more combative way. He also began complaining about meat prices and the like. I politely told him that I can't, in good conscious, pay more for the items than what we agreed. He reiterated that there was nothing he could do and pointed to a small sticker on the front of the menu that read "menu prices are subject to change". I guess that meant they could change from the time we ordered until the time we received our bill. If it wasn't the worst dining experience I have had, definitely the strangest! I felt as though I had been robbed when I walked out and made to somehow feel guilty about it.

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