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.
11200 W. Burleigh St.
Cafe Grace is nothing if not charming. In fact, take a step inside this French-inspired bistro at the Mayfair Collection and order any of the well-appointed dishes (you can’t miss with the French onion soup or the steak tartare) and you can easily overlook this Tosa bistro’s location in the outlot at a suburban mall.
It’s also not the type of restaurant where I’d normally order a burger. But that’s the amazing thing about the Burger Trail; it’s opened my eyes to burgers at a number of restaurants where I’d probably never have otherwise tried them.
The Grace Burger is topped with caramelized onions, aîoli, roasted cherry tomatoes and frisée; it’s served with hand-cut frites ($14).
Pro tip: If you’re looking for a deal, you can get The Grace Burger for $6 during happy hour, which takes place Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. (at the bar only).
There’s something sophisticated about the look of this burger with its almost open-faced presentation. There’s the pop of green from the beautifully fresh frisee, the cascade of delicious aioli dripping down the side of the burger, and the gentle brown edges on the tipped brioche bun. It’s a beauty, and it’s one I couldn’t wait to dip into.
Brioche is a well-appointed choice here, and not only because it’s clearly the only choice for a burger in a French restaurant. It also was a nice match in terms of flavor and sturdiness, nicely sized for the burger and sturdy enough to hold up to the generous toppings.
Burgers at Cafe Grace are cooked to order, though mine (and my companion’s as well) missed the medium-rare mark by a good distance, arriving at our table without a stitch of pink at the center. Nonetheless, it was tender and juicy, with just the right amount of meaty greasiness. It was also nicely seasoned, so there was nary a bland bite.
The toppings on this burger were a delicious departure from the norm. The blistered cherry tomatoes were tender and sweet, the aioli was bright and creamy (and plentiful) and the greens (which included frisee and a bit of radicchio) offered both texture and a pop of bitterness, which made a beautiful foil for the sweetness of the nicely caramelized onions (and yes, they were caramelized … not just fried).
Be forewarned. You might be eating your burger in a charming, French-inspired setting. And this burger might be called "The Grace Burger." But this is not a dainty sandwich. In fact, you might want to ask for an extra napkin.
When you consider the time spent in caramelizing onions, making a beautiful aioli and thoughtfully assembling this burger to look as good as it does, there’s no mistaking that this is solid burger at a fair price, even at $14. Eat it during happy hour (when it’s just $6), and it’s a downright steal.
As they would say in France, "C'est un délicieux hamburger."
Cafe Grace is open Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and 4 to 9 p.m. for dinner; Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch and 3 to 8 p.m. for dinner.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.