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.
Since carry-out is king, and there’s little better than frozen custard during the summer months, I’ll be focusing on "custard stand" burgers for the next few weeks.
Bubba’s Frozen Custard
1276 Capitol Dr., Pewaukee
The modern architecture of the Bubba's Frozen Custard building is deceiving. After all, the family-owned and operated custard has provided Pewaukee area residents with frozen custard, burgers, hot dogs, wings, fish fries and sides for over 20 years.
Like most stands of its ilk, Bubba’s offers three flavors of frozen custard on any given day: chocolate, vanilla and a flavor of the day, one of over 80 choices from butter pecan to key lime pie and chocolate malt crunch. They also offer options like concretes, black cows and custard sundaes.
In addition to sweet frozen treats, Bubba’s has also become known for their signature burgers, which include popular picks like the Wisconsin Cheesehead Burger topped with Monterey jack and American cheeses, bacon, white cheddar cheese curds and ranch dressing; and the Bubba Burger, topped with bacon, cheddar cheese sauce and fried onions.
On this visit, I opted for the Double Bubba Burger, which struck me as having the potential to be both classic and delicious ($7.69) with a side of onion rings ($3.19) and a Blue Moon concrete for $4.04 (which happened to be the weekly special).
Stuffing a burger into a bag has a tendency to leave it a bit smashed; but the Bubba still maintained some of its appeal. You could see the double patties, nicely browned and coated with a gloss of cheese sauce that also coated portions of the edge of the bottom bun. There was also a peek of bacon and the visible presence of hefty pieces of fried onion. Unwrapping it also resulted in a waft of beefiness that made my already hungry belly growl a bit.
The bun, despite a bit of cracking along its top, was pretty stellar. It’s interior was creamy yellow, indicative of the egg yolks used in the dough, and it was soft and slightly sweet. The interior of both cut sides was also lightly toasted. Even better, it was well sized for the accompanying burger patties.
If you’ve followed along on my Burger Trail journey, you know that I’m a stickler for tasty beef, and that I take pains to taste each burger independently of its toppings to judge both its flavor and preparation. In this case, it was fairly easy to isolate the burger meat from its other components, chiefly because the cheese sauce didn’t cling to the burger in the same way as melted cheese.
The burgers were molded into perfect circles, so their pack was relatively tight; in turn, their juiciness quotient was somewhat limited, and their texture was quite firm, though neither suffered from being overly dry. Each sported a set of visible grill marks and lovely crispy browned edges. The edges were the burgers’ main assets, offering a bit of texture and a wisp of caramelized flavor to go along with their slightly char-broiled flavor profile. As for flavor, they were somewhat beefy but otherwise quite bland and not notably seasoned, making them dependent on the toppings for a flavor pop. I was hungry enough to eat the double, but as I ate, I did find myself wondering if a single would have been the more balanced choice.
The toppings themselves were solid. The cheese sauce seemed to be applied a bit sparingly (its texture seemed thin, as it seemed to only leave a visible gloss on the burger, and some had visibly soaked into the bun), so I had a somewhat difficult time sussing out its flavor; but it did lend a bit of cheesiness, which was tasty mixed with the sweetness of the gently fried onions.
The bacon wasn’t overly notable. It was thin and very crispy, which meant it lent some welcome texture to the burger. Meanwhile its flavor was simple, mostly salty, which was an asset to the burger, which needed a punch of seasoning to make it shine.
When I order signature burgers, it’s my practice to avoid adding extra ingredients. My reasoning: I trust that the burger was built to taste good as-is. Particularly with a signature burger – which I’d argue should be the best of the lot, by virtue that it bears the venue’s name – I try to avoid messing with what I perceive to be the ownership’s idea of the ideal burger. In this case, I did wish I’d had the forethought to add a condiment or two, maybe even pickles, to give the sandwich a bit of the balance that acid brings to the table.
For less than $8, you’re getting a hefty portion of beef, giving this burger a natural value quotient, particularly considering the increasing price of beef these days.
In the end, I found myself valuing the potential of the Bubba Burger over its reality.
Bubba’s Frozen Custard is open Sunday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.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.