I’m a burger fiend. I love hamburgers, the messier, the better. (The one rule is I have to be able to pick them up. No chili-smothered knife-and-fork burgers.) And I judge the burgers not only on the quality of the meat, but the texture and durability of the bun, as well as the creativity of the toppings.
So I was looking forward to going to Scotty’s Brewhouse in Downtown Indianapolis with Jeremy Williams, VisitIndiana’s editor and the social media manager of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development (the people who host this blog). We wanted to review the two finalists in the Scotty’s Brewhouse Burger Contest, the Confused Buffalo and Fit to be Thaid.
The two burgers were the two finalists in the 2012 Burger Bracket Challenge, where patrons were invited to submit their “dream burger” recipe online. Site visitors would then vote on the burgers that sounded best, and the winning burger would move on through the March Madness style bracket, until they got to the two finalists. Whichever burger sold more in the restaurants — no more online voting; you vote with your wallet — during the week of March 26 – April 1 would be added to Scotty’s menu around the state, starting in June.
This is how one of Scotty’s most famous burgers, the Shewman Special, came to be. This is the hamburger with peanut butter, bacon, and jalapeños on it. Don’t wrinkle your nose at that! You have to try it before you dismiss it. It’s one of my favorite Scotty’s burgers.
So it was down to the Confused Buffalo — a bison burger with 7 Tidals buffalo chicken dip, jalapeños, Mo’Fo’ sauce, cheddar cheese, on sourdough bread — and the Fit to be Thaid, a Thai food inspired burger made with sirloin beef, cheddar cheese, sauteed onions, diced pineapple, lettuce, peanut butter, garlic teriyaki sauce, butter bun. The garlic teriyaki is spread on the top bun, peanut butter on the bottom bun.
I had submitted my own version of the Confused Buffalo, but it didn’t make the first cut (I would imagine there were several variations of the Buffalo burger this year, since Scotty also serves buffalo meat), but I wasn’t going to let my own pettiness get in the way. I love the 7 Tidals Dip, and the Mo’Fo’ sauce has knocked me on my keister more than once, so I already had my favorite before I ever walked in the door.
Jeremy and I each ordered one of the burgers, and asked for them to be cut in half (which is why you see pre-cut burgers in the photos; they’re normally served whole), so we could each try half. We took photos and shot videos, talking about the burgers and how they’re made. Here’s how they stacked up, at least for me:
Fit to be Thaid: A lot of Thai food has a peanut base to it, with either a peanut sauce or by adding peanuts. The peanut butter on here was definitely prominently featured, but the garlic teriyaki was lurking in the background providing the rest of the Thai food flavor. I’m also not a big fan of pineapple on food, so I was a little leery about it, but it did add a nice unexpected sweetness to the overall taste of the burger. The peanut butter made its presence known, and I loved the bun, but everything was done in a nice balance. I did enjoy the burger, and would probably eat it again. Our server, Anna, said it was her favorite, and she had eaten three throughout the week.
Confused Buffalo Burger: This one has some kick, but not enough to make it unpleasant. While the 7 Tidals Dip carries some heat, it’s also creamy enough to keep it from being too hot (get some for an appetizer). The jalapeños are pretty mild. Where you’ll get into trouble is the Mo’Fo’ sauce, which we got on the side for dipping our fries and tater tots (Note: I hadn’t had tater tots for years until Scotty’s started serving them. Now I get them every time I go. They’re great!). You typically only find sourdough toast on a frisco melt, but it worked on the Confused Buffalo. Also, the bison meat was lean and moist, but not dry. We had both burgers cooked to a medium well (well done burgers tend to be dry and leathery), and it really suited the leanness of the bison meat. Basically, this burger has some heat, but unless you think ketchup is spicy, you should be able to handle it. Pop in some tots along the way, and it will soak up any of the heat that might build up.
When we were there at lunch, we were told it was still neck and neck between the two, but the Confused Buffalo had the slight edge at that moment. Things could change, we were told, so we knew we were eating one of those burgers for the first and last time ever.
Overall, Jeremy and I liked both burgers, but we have to throw our support behind the Confused Buffalo Burger. Still the Fit to be Thaid also deserves to be on the menu. I hope Scotty’s owner, Scott Wise, decides to relax the rules a bit and declare both burgers a winner. (Hey, Scotty, be a mensch, and let them both win this year!)
But if you have a strong feeling one way or the other, the contest ends Sunday, April 1st at 10:00 pm. Visit your nearest Scotty’s Brewhouse (Bloomington, Columbus, Fishers, Indianapolis, Muncie, West Lafayette), order one of these beefy beauties, and tip the scales in your favorite’s favor.