MacNiven’s vs Claddagh Irish Pub

A Scottish pub goes head to head with an Irish pub to see who serves up a better bar burger.

THEME: Pub Grub

Ah, pubs. Short for public house, these alcohol serving establishments have been major staples of any civilized society for hundreds of years. Although beers and booze are the main reasons to visit, many places now focus on food as well; after all, who doesn’t love a drunk burger? In order to get a more sober comparison, we went to two Indianapolis pubs – one Irish, one Scottish – and found out which one of these watering holes had the better burger to go along with your beer.

Name: Angus Burger
Hometown: MacNiven’s Scottish American – 339 Mass Ave
Weight: 350 grams
Cost: $10.25

Disclaimer: When we first got this burger, we didn’t realize what the description meant when it said “It’s big, it’s flat, its delicious!”. We then opened the box:

macnivens-3
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat”

…yeah. So, after a little culinary engineering and restructuring:

macnivens-1
The Angus Burger: MacNiven’s signature burger (some assembly required)
macnivens-2
Ingredients: Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onions, Cheddar Cheese

The Bun

The bun was nice and soft when we got it and we could see toast markings that helped give it a little more texture when bit into. The bread was a little flattened when we got it though (presumably from the weight of the meat) but still held firm when we picked up the burger.

The Meat

As you can see from the photos above, this burger patty grew up a little bit different than the others. Despite its size though, this was actually a very delicious piece of beef. Made from 100% Angus beef and marinated in Worcestershire sauce and pepper, the seasoning on this burger was spot on. We asked for the burger to be cooked medium but because of the thinness of the patty, they could only accommodate well done – regardless, the patty was still juicy and full of flavor. Hints of the Worcestershire sauce could be tasted within the patty and helped compliment the flavors of the beef.

The Ingredients

The rest of the ingredients, although fresh, were nothing too spectacular. The onions we got were clearly just cut as a single whole slice and could’ve had a little more effort put into them. Other than that, the freshness of the vegetables helped compliment the rich and well seasoned meat.

The Ratio

Although the size of the beef was quite large in surface area, the overall ratio was actually done pretty well. Because the patty had been folded, it wasn’t one giant solid chunk of meat so it felt lighter than it looked when you bit into it – combined with the crisp onions and fresh tomato, it gave a nice even taste as you ate it.

In a sentence:

Intimidating at first but very well seasoned and tasty; the gentle giant of burgers.

Name: Jameson Burger
Hometown: Claddagh Irish Pub – 234 South Meridian Street
Weight: 325 grams
Cost: $11.00

claddagh-1
The Jameson Burger: An Irish pub’s specialty covered in an Irish whiskey glaze and an Irish stout beer cheese
claddagh-2
Ingredients: Jameson glaze, Guinness Beer Cheese, Onion Straws

The Bun

The bun in the Jameson wasn’t anything too special – it was lightly toasted brioche bun but seemed to be just a regular roll you might get on a deli sandwich. Although it wasn’t as soft and airy as some other burger buns, for ingredients it had to contain, we believe this was a good fit for the burger as a whole.

The Meat

The patty used in the Jameson burger was an interesting one – The beef was less of a whole patty and more reminiscent of meatloaf. It broke off in chunks even though it was cooked well, but wasn’t overly chewy and was well seasoned. You could probably have covered it in gravy and been equally as satisfied.

The Ingredients

The Jameson burger is named so because of the Jameson glaze that they put on top. We’re not sure exactly what went into the glaze.. but it was awesome! It was sweet and almost of a syrupy consistency which really helped cut through the thick of the patty, but not so sweet that it was overpowering or out of place. To balance the stickiness of the glaze, there were fried onion straws that helped give the burger a needed crisp in its bite. The only ingredient that didn’t seem to quite stand out was the beer cheese on top – because the burger already had a viscous topping, the addition of the cheese was either lost or confused in terms of taste when mixed with the glaze. We could taste it when we focused on it but the glaze by itself had enough to hold our attention.

The Ratio

Unlike other burgers, this ratio was a little more nontraditional since it was pretty much between the meat and the glaze – that being said, it was very well done. Because of the thick meatloaf-like patty, it could’ve been easy to feel like you were eating just that if you didn’t have anything to offset it. On the other hand, because of the sweetness and syrupy-ness of the glaze, it could’ve easily overpowered the rest of the burger and left you wondering if you were eating dinner or dessert. In the end however, the two worked very well together to bring a wholesome burger that lived up to its own unique combination.

In a sentence:

A unique, simple, and delicious burger that fits into the very bar setting its name touts.

Winner:

Jameson Burger

This week’s battle was a very close one and took some discussion for us to decide. As far as burgers, both were different enough to make a straightforward comparison difficult as well as delicious enough that we couldn’t immediately decide based on taste. Because this likely came down to personal preference (the Angus with its more traditional setup versus the Jameson and its unique glaze), we decided to refer to the week’s theme as the tiebreaker. This does not mean we chose the Jameson simply because it’s also a whiskey – although both of these burgers are great in their own rights, we felt the Jameson fit the pub setting better. The sweet glaze was a better compliment to a bitter beer than any of the flavors in the Angus, and the added fried onions, lack of vegetables, and beer cheese just gave the Jameson that sort of “unhealthy but delicious and I’m three beers deep” allure that the Angus just didn’t have.

Meaty Math

Although our winner was both slightly smaller and slightly more expensive than its competitor, the difference is pretty much irrelevant since both burgers were great. You can see the math broken down here:

Restaurant Burger Weight (g) Price ($) Gram / Dollar
MacNivens Angus Burger 350 $10.25 34.15
Claddagh Irish Pub Jameson Burger 325 $11.00 29.55

As far as sides, the Jameson burger came with some delicious steak fries while the Angus gives you a choice among steak fries, onion rings, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, vegetarian baked beans, neeps, wee side salad, fried rice, cajun sprinkled cottage cheese, soup of the day, veggie chili or beef stew. We chose the veggie chili which, although looked more like soup than chili, was tasty nonetheless.

Check out both of these restaurants below!
Claddagh Irish Pub
MacNiven’s

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