In this series, we’ll be hiking the burger trail to find the latest, greatest and most delicious burgers in Milwaukee. Click here for an explanation of the criteria used to rate each burger. Where have we been? Check out the complete catalog of burger reviews here.
This South Side bar across from the airport is pretty much what you’d expect: a friendly spot for folks to gather, watch the game or grab a bite. The space is clean, but relatively no frills, decorated primarily with neon signs and sports gear.
During our visit, the large bar hosted a handful of chatty folks, at least some of which appeared to be regulars. Mounted televisions offered a view of daytime sportsball games, while high top tables offered comfortable seating for those grabbing a bite. Meanwhile, a pool table and arcade games in the back of the bar offered alternative forms of entertainment.
There are a number of signature burgers from which to choose on the Brass Monkey menu, as well as a build-your-own burger option, which starts at $6.95 for a one-third-pound patty. But when asked, the bartender indicated that their most popular burger is actually the Pub Burger, a double cheeseburger topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. Priced at just $5.95 with a side of fries, it seemed like a no brainer.
What you see is what you get. The Pub Burger stood tall on its plate, surrounded by a sea of crisp fries and a side of bread and butter pickles. And while it wasn’t a stunning presentation by any means, it didn’t dissuade me from looking forward to my first bite.
There’s always something to be said for a brioche bun, with its glossy top and slightly sweet flavor. And the bun had a good deal to do with the success of this burger. It held up reasonably well to the toppings, smashing down only slightly as the burger was consumed.
I’ll be honest, the two thin patties which accompany the Pub Burger aren’t anything to write home about. In fact, we may have been better off choosing one of the signature burgers, which are made with one-third pound of Black Angus beef. They’re too thin to be cooked to order, and texturally they’re much like the burgers you might expect at any ordinary fast food restaurant. However, they did bear a nice char-grilled flavor which – when paired with the classic toppings – was strangely reminiscent of (and I'm not judging) a Burger King burger.
Crisp iceberg lettuce offered little in the way of flavor, but the crunch it offered made for a nice addition to the texture of the burger itself. Similarly, the thin slice of tomato, while not particularly flavorful, added a share of moisture. Meanwhile, the American cheese pulled everything together with its pleasantly salty, creamy flavor.
What can I say? It’s pretty difficult to scoff when your bill reflects a total of just under $6 for a decent burger and fries. And I’m guessing that’s at least part of the reason it’s the most popular burger on the menu.
If you happen to be near the airport and you’re craving some of that classic burger flavor, you’ll find it at Brass Monkey.
Brass Monkey is open Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.