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.
316 N. Milwaukee St.
If you’ve followed the culinary exploits of Dandan, EsterEv and Fauntleroy Chefs Dan Van Rite and Daniel Jacobs over the years, you’ve likely seen a number of iterations of the brisket burger. During the years that Van Rite was at the helm of Hinterland, the restaurant kept an off-menu brisket burger on the menu in the Lounge. A tweaked version of the burger also appeared (briefly) as an off-menu item on the bar menu at DanDan. These days, you’ll find the latest version on both the lunch and happy hour menu at Fauntleroy.
And yes, when sit down to order this burger, you should definitely be thinking about the scene in the 1994 film "Pulp Fiction" during which Vincent is chatting with Jules about a variety of "funny" things in Europe. After all, this is Fauntleroy. And Fauntleroy is about nothing if it’s not delicious, well prepared food that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The Grande Royale with Cheese features two brisket patties, butterkase, lettuce, onion, pickle and royale sauce on a sesame seed bun ($15).
This burger has a familiar look about it. That’s largely thanks to the sesame seed bun and patties layered with beautifully orange cheese. This is a looker of a burger, in part because you can see little details like the crisp edges of the burger, the cheese as it melts over the edges of the patties and the generous (but not excessive) portion of royale sauce oozing out over the top.
A Royale with Cheese – or even a Grande Royale with Cheese – wouldn’t be the same without a classic sesame seed bun. In Fauntleroy’s case, it’s a fluffy but substantial rendition with a nice texture and beautifully yeasty flavor. The bun is nicely toasted, giving it a nice crispness, particularly around the edges. And while this is a pretty messy burger overall, the bun holds up to both the juices and royale sauce without completely giving up the ghost.
The burger patties are delicious. They’ve been nicely seared on a flat top grill, giving them a nice exterior char and almost crispy edges. The meat itself is beautifully juicy (it took a bit of panache to eat without some of the juices and escaping sauce running down my arm) with a rich, meaty flavor; that’s thanks to the ground brisket, which offers far better flavor than sirloin (a more popular choice for burgers). Maybe most impressively, despite being thin quarter-pounders, there was even a remnant of pink in the center of the burgers.
What makes the toppings on this burger shine is the way they bring balance to the meaty patties. There’s a little sweetness (as well as vinegary tang) in the pickles, which are actually quite delicious on their own. The royale sauce is both sweet and tangy and provides a nice balance to the char on the exterior of the burger and the saltiness of the butterkase … which is a star in and of itself.
It’s a nice substitute for the more common American slices since it’s still wonderfully fatty, so it melts like a dream. It also pulls in that extra pop of umami that benefits any burger. The one component that I could probably take or leave is the lettuce. I appreciate that it’s shredded, since that tends to allow it to be distributed better over the entire burger; but I’m not a big fan of the way it wilts against the heat of the burger, leaving it with a pathetic, slightly undesirable texture.
This is a great burger served alongside some pretty delicious frites. So that $15 price tag isn’t going to elicit a single squawk from me. It’s absolutely well worth every penny.
Craving a burger for lunch? Don’t overlook Fauntleroy in the Third Ward.
Fauntleroy is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Happy hour takes place Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 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.