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.
Dairyland Old Fashioned Burgers
924 E. Rawson Ave., Oak Creek
Dairyland, a new concept from Chefs Katie and Kurt Fogle and Joe McCormick, opened on Friday in Oak Creek. The new restaurant, which is currently operating as a ghost kitchen, offering online orders for pick-up only. You can read more about the Dairyland concept here.
Their opening menu is abbreviated and expected to evolve over time; but it showcases a number of staple items for the brand, including fried chicken sandwiches and old fashioned flat-top grilled burgers. Since these are unprecedented times, I decided I’d forego my usual waiting period and give their double cheeseburger an in-depth look.
The Dairyland double cheeseburger features two seared 3-ounce beef patties, American cheese, ketchup, Hellman’s mayo, yellow mustard, grilled onions and dill pickles on a homestyle bun ($7.50). I added on an order of onion rings ($4) and a Sprecher root beer ($3).
It was tough to find fault with the burger’s appearance. Despite being presented in a carry-out container (notably of the eco-friendly variety), the shapely golden brown bun is no slouch, encasing two gloriously caramelized burger patties swathed in a glorious cloak of melted cheese, which droops slowly over the side, spilling into the container itself as well as onto the bright green edge of pickle peeking out from below.
The bun was soft and pliable, but it had a good heft that didn’t compress to a fault, even as the burger was being consumed. It was nicely toasted on both cut sides, and possessed a subtle underlying sweetness that complemented the saltiness and umami of the burger. It didn’t overwhelm the burger with breadiness and seemed to be well-sized for the patties, offering balanced bites of meat, toppings and bun throughout.
The burger patties were definitely the star (as it should be). They were thin and beautifully seasoned, an element that underscored their naturally umami-rich qualities. Their edges were beautifully crisped and flavorful; yet somehow, through some miracle, the interior still bears the slightest hint of pink still persisted in their centers.
No frills classic burgers are a tricky proposition. After all, aside from cheese and a few condiments, there’s nothing cloaking the quality of the meat. Beyond that, each topping needs to have a purpose, and (more importantly) the flavors need to balance. Fortunately, the Dairyland burger does all of those things. The American cheese provides creamy comfort along with a salty boost of umami. The sweet fried onions play foil to the salt, while the condiments enhance the overall package with the creaminess of mayo, the fruity saltiness of ketchup and the tang of the mustard. Lastly, you’ve got the pickles, which offer a bright pop of acid and crunch, balancing the burger’s richness and offering texture.
Great burgers boil down to three things: technique, composition and flavor. And when you come across all of that for $7.50, you gotta bet it’s a good value.
If you want a well executed burger that tastes just like a burger should, this is among just a few in town that deliver.
This week, Dairyland is open for business Wednesday through Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. with expanded hours on the way. Pick-up orders can be placed on the Dairyland Facebook page. Do yourself a favor and give them a follow for updates and expanded hours moving forward.
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.