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.
If you’re a craft beer lover, there are plenty of reasons to make a trek out to Crafty Cow in Oconomowoc (although you won't have to for long, thanks to the Crafty Cow opening this spring in Bay View). The family friendly craft beer bar offers up an extensive beer list and menu featuring creative appetizers and sandwiches. Most notable are Crafty Cow's signature stuffed burgers, most of which are lavishly topped with ingredients like prime rib, peanut butter, pork belly and just about anything else you can think of.
And, although there are countless burgers from which to choose, I kept things basic on my recent visit and ordered up The Lucy, an homage to the original Jucy Lucy, a one-third pound patty stuffed with American cheese ($8).
There’s a bit of theater in the presentation of The Lucy, which comes stabbed through the middle with a steak knife, revealing the pool of volcanic cheese within. But, in all other ways, the presentation was basic. Hunger-inducing, but basic.
The bun, a demi-brioche with a nice toasty sheen, was a winner. It was soft and flavorful, with an ever-so-slight toasting: an excellent vehicle for the substantial patty.
Crafty Cow burgers come sans hormones and antibiotics, which is a bonus. The hand-formed patty was thick and tasted pleasantly meaty, and it had a nice crisp edge from being finished on the grill. Unfortunately, there was one strike against it: its texture. The patty came off as slightly dry and dense, lacking the juiciness that would really push it to the next level.
In this burger’s case, the toppings lay within: chiefly a generous portion of volcanic American cheese, which formed a gentle oozing stream of umami flavor with most bites. It offered up some redemption for the burger, which didn’t quite meet muster, while offering a nice blast of flavor. Unfortunately, I found myself wishing I had gone with a few more toppings to up the flavor quotient.
At $8, the Lucy weighs in at a relatively average price. It’s important to note that, although I didn’t take advantage, the burger can also be spiffed up with lettuce, tomato, raw onions, pickles or mayo for no additional charge. It's worthwhile to mention that french fries are a la carte, but $3 will get you a basket of fries that easily feeds two to four.
Next time you’re in Oconomowoc, grab a craft brew at Crafty Cow and order up one of the crazier burgers on the menu. After all, it’s one place where the burger is really all about the toppings.
Crafty Cow is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.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.