Situated right off the Monon on Main Street in downtown Carmel, Bubs is a popular lunch location, especially for (as my friend Mike pointed out) beefy white guys in corporate attire. It was so popular that we had to put our name in and wait fifteen minutes to get a table, and because we specified “first available” we ended up outside in the heated, awning-covered outdoor area, which was fairly comfortable even in February.
Bub’s draw is their one pound “Big Ugly” burger (that’s the after cooking weight; the before cooking is a whopping 22 ounces) which will gain you a memorial photo on the wall if you can finish the whole thing. Personally, I think that might be so they can identify you later when you keel over from a heart attack, but they advertise it as a good thing. A couple of my co-workers have met the challenge, and a couple of them have failed miserably, although they talked big about it afterwards (“Well, you know, I could have done that if I hadn’t had such a big dinner last night, harumph, harumph.” Yeah, right.)
The display of “Big Ugly Champions” photos covers three walls of the restaurant, so the challenge isn’t impossible to surmount. Given that the restaurant opened in May of 2003, there seem to be a lot of champions, and I wonder where they’re going to go with the photos in a few more years.
I didn’t even bother with the big talk, and just went for the quarter pound “Settle for Less Ugly” burger, although I put a twist on it and ordered Elk rather than regular beef. Bub’s is offering Elk burgers on a trial basis to gage whether it’s popular enough to put it on their regular menu. It is healthier than beef, with less fat, calories and cholesterol, so it’s a nice alternative for people with diet concerns. I just wanted to taste Elk.
I ordered my burger medium, and with lettuce, onion, pickle, mayo and pepperjack cheese. I also ordered a side of sloppy waffles; waffle fries with a topping of cheese, bacon and sour cream.
The Elk tasted a bit different than beef; a bit sweeter and not as tangy. I had arrived with a craving for a good juicy burger, so I was a bit disappointed, but I don’t blame the Elk for that. It wasn’t gamey or unpleasant, and I’d vote in favor of them keeping it on the menu.
By the time I got around to eating my sloppy waffles, they were rather cold due to the temperature of the outdoor seating, and the cheese was more like cheese whiz than the melted cheddar that I was hoping for. That didn’t stop me from eating them all, though.
Mike had the The Mahi Mahi fish sandwich, which he reports was “a big slab o’ fishly goodness barely contained between two slices of tangy Foccacia bread.” It was served with a peach-mango salsa and Mike had the cole slaw as a side. Judge for yourself from the photo; it was the biggest piece of fish I’ve ever seen in a sandwich.
The menu features three burger sizes (one pound, half pound and quarter pound sizes), and other menu items are hot dogs and chili, a chicken sandwich and salad, and pie and brownie dessert. With only a salad on the non-meat side of things, Bub’s may not be a regular stop for you if you have a vegetarian with your regular lunch party as we do.
Bub’s has an ice cream shop in the front of the building that’s a draw for the Monon crowd, and they also feature entertainment in the evenings, with some comedy shows scheduled and live music planned for Saturday evenings in the Spring.
Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream
210 West Main St
Lunch, 11:30 a.m., Friday February 4, 2005
Atmosphere: Outdoor seating would be great in spring, but not February