Season’s eatings! The weather may be getting colder, but Dining Month on OnMilwaukee is just cooking up, dishing out your winning picks in this year’s Best of Dining poll. Dining Month is brought to you by Fein Brothers, your premier food service equipment and supply dealer in Wisconsin since 1929. Congratulations to all of the winners, and happy eating for all those who voted!
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.
4488 N. Oakland Ave.
Sometimes you need to do little more than walk into a space to fall a little bit in love. Such is the case at Cloud Red, where the decor is simple, but cheerful, the beer list is diverse and the mood is ultra chill. It’s a great spot for whiling away an afternoon or evening, chatting with friends, playing board games or even watching the game.
And although it’s primarily a bar, Cloud Red’s small scratch-made menu is definitely a highlight, with options that run the gamut from healthful to comforting, and vegetarian to meat-loving. Among those options is a burger.
The Ney’s Big Sky burger is comprised of a half-pound of grass-fed beef, thick-cut bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, crispy onions and special sauce ($12). Cloud Red doesn’t serve french fries, but you can augment your burger with a bag of chips if you like for $1.50.
The burger itself is beautiful. The top of the bun is tipped to reveal a dramatic ruffle of vibrant green lettuce which hovers atop crispy browned onions, a beautifully red (and thick) slice of tomato, a peek of crisp bacon and a visibly charred burger topped with well-melted cheese.
The brioche bun is soft and sweet. It’s been crisped slightly on both sides (always a good thing), and it is well-sized, doing a good job of supporting the large half-pound patty.
The half-pound burgers at Cloud Red come made to order. That said, although everyone at our table ordered theirs mid-rare, they came out of the kitchen closer to medium. Nonetheless, the burger was juicy and well seasoned. It also possessed a nice char on the exterior that lent a distinctively char-broiled flavor (a deal-breaker for someone who doesn’t love that slight bitterness, but a win for those who appreciate it).
Atop that burger, you’ll find nicely melted cheddar, the flavor of which comes through nicely. The lettuce and tomato are both fresh and cleanly flavored, and there’s plenty of texture thanks to the crispy, well-browned bacon and crunchy onions, which are applied generously. Meanwhile, the housemade sauce is a spunky take on the usual burger sauce; it melds nicely with all of the other ingredients, and is applied judiciously enough that it offers a nice pop of flavor without being overwhelming.
When I pay $12 for a burger, I expect it to be thoughtful and well prepared. This burger did not disappoint in either category. Some might miss the addition of French fries, but I was quite happy to enjoy it on its own.
If you love burgers, you should definitely put this one on your list to try.
Cloud Red is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 2 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
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.