When I got to Indianapolis for the very first time, I made sure that I would make it into town for dinner with my colleague. But, unlike a lot of cities I’ve been to recently, I didn’t make it to town with a pre-selected list of potential restaurant opportunities. Apparently the shows I had been watching hadn’t made it there yet (I later found out that Man Vs. Food had been in Indy, and will be updating my list). So, I simply pulled up Urbanspoon, and narrowed it down to “downtown” since we wanted something within walking distance. We weren’t looking for anything fancy, just something good; and based on those requirements, Scotty’s Brewhouse jumped to the top of the list.
According to its UrbanSpoon entry, Scotty’s is the 4th overall rated restaurant in the downtown and specializes in “American”, “Burgers” and “Gastropub”. It took us about 10 minutes to make the walk down in the chilly night air. When we walked in, we found what looked to be a sports bar, very reminiscent of Sport in Seattle. There was a large bar area in the middle and many TVs showing a variety of sporting events. We were taken to a booth in the dining area where we had our own personal TV that we could tune to the sporting event du jour.
Our waitress (I want to say Heather, but that sounds wrong), stopped by to greet us and take our drink order. I went with a local beer and then started flipping through their massive menu. It reminded me of the type of menu you would see at a place like an Old Chicago or a Red Robin; lots of variety of bar food. Things like burgers and nachos and ribs and the like. It was obvious at this point that we were absolutely not in a gastropub (Spur is a Gastropub…check out the food here). But, there is nothing wrong with a good sports bar. When Heather (I’m just going with it) returned with our drinks, she helped walk us through the menu. She said that they were known for their burgers and had 3 of the top 25 Indianapolis burgers on the menu. Of the 3, she recommended that I go with Shewman Special, medium. So, I did, with Onion Rings.
Now the Shewman Special is an interesting combination of ingredients. On top of a reported “hand-pattied” half pound burger is cheese, bacon, jalepeno and peanut butter. Yup, peanut butter. And while it sounds a little odd, I was just coming off a trip where I had a banana, peanut butter and bacon panini that was actually really good was the peanut butter was more savory than sweet, so I was actually very intrigued. Sadly, the intrigue faded within seconds of the burger arriving.
The first thing that I did is try the peanut butter which turned out to be nothing more than Skippy; the type of sweet peanut butter you would expect on a PB&J sandwich. Then I cut the burger in to find my “medium” burger pretty much cooked all the way through. Squishing the hamburger down, no juices seeped out of the burger. And given all of the ingredients, the whole thing was relatively bland. The burger was underseasoned and flavorless. I didn’t even get any heat or flavor from the couple of jalepenos that managed to find their way on to the burger. The one saving grace of everything is that the onion rings were pretty good…nice and crispy, good onion flavor, definitely hand cut.
Overall, it was a big disappointment. I was expecting gastropub or even contemporary sports bar like I find in Seattle, and got nothing more than an Old Chicago. And the quality of the burger was less than I could get at Red Robin, or any number of other places. Maybe my expectations are different coming from Seattle, but if Scotty’s is offering the best hamburgers in Indianapolis, then I’m going to pass on hamburgers whenever I find myself in Indy.