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.
Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen
In February, I shared the news that Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen had expanded its reach nationally by establishing ghost kitchens in locales across the country, including Brookfield.
After I wrote up the news, I put a flag on my calendar, reminding myself to give it a try after the concept had a bit of time to get established. After all, if any celebrity chef could rock out a stellar burger, it should be the host of “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives,” right? Right?
When the time came to take the leap, I perused the menu. There are only two burgers, so I settled on the one which – at least on paper – seemed to have a reputation to live up to.
The online menu description for the Bacon Mac N’ Cheese Burger reads: “Guy’s Award-winning burger! Voted Best Burger In Las Vegas By Seven Magazine; Winner Of New York City Food And Wine Festival’s Burger Bash 80/20 ground beef, SMC, mac n cheese, bacon, LTOP, crispy onions, Donkey sauce, garlic buttered brioche”
Damn, Fieri. Your marketing folks are worse than Rachel Ray with all those abbreviations. And the capitalization and punctuation! (Truly, it made me want to close the ordering window; but I didn't).
The burger itself is $12.99 and you’ll lay down another $4.99 for battered Flavortown fries. Order through the Flavortown website and you’ll also pay a $4.99 delivery fee (you can also order through other third party services). I ordered a second burger as well (the Real Cheezy) to judge consistency in preparation, bringing my total (with tax and a 20% tip) to $42.73.
I waited until after the weekday lunch hour to order my burger, and overall the delivery was efficient. They estimated it would arrive in about an hour (which it did). I got a text when it was ready that stated the driver was 17 minutes away; and about 16 minutes later, the burgers arrived.
All of the food was still warm upon arrival, each burger wrapped neatly in paper and packed into fancy Flavortown-branded boxes (No styrofoam!) The fries also came in an equally flashy box.
Both burgers unpacked relatively well, maintaining their overall shape. The toppings on the Bacon Mac N’ Cheese Burger were a bit askew (due to being placed into the bag on their side), with tomatoes sliding out on the backside, cheese melted in a puddle out front and lettuce pretty much everywhere. Crisp bacon poked out in curls around the exterior and onion strings strung themselves like little banners from the top of the heap.
Overall it looked messy, but promising.
Upon examination, the split-top brioche bun was soft and fresh with the sweeter flavor you’d expect from brioche. Mine was nicely toasted on the interior sides (the second burger’s bun wasn’t quite as nicely done, but passable). I ate a few pieces of the bun in an attempt to catch a taste of the garlic butter; but that proved futile. There was butter, but the garlic wasn’t particularly evident.
It seemed well-sized for the burger itself, which was thick but not terribly large in its circumference. But it was pretty soft, even for brioche, so it compacted a good deal during the process of eating it. But this burger had bigger problems than the bun.
The burger, on the other hand looked just fine (once I found it underneath all those toppings). It wasn't perfectly round and it had a deep, dark crust on the exterior, which imparted both color and texture. When I bit into an edge, I found the patty to be very well seasoned with a char-grilled flavor. Those are the good things.
But then I dug in. A pinch between the fingers gave some evidence of fat. But as I sampled a bit more, creeping toward the center of the patty, I was disappointed to find that the meat was cooked medium-well and was notably dry. It had a bit of beefiness to it; but the bulk of its flavor was derived from the external seasoning and char.
That second burger? Virtually identical. So, at least there’s some consistency?
The toppings on a burger should not have to do all the legwork. But that was definitely the case here. That burger needed all the help it could get to inch even close to Flavortown.
Fortunately, the toppings did the job. The mac n’ cheese was sparse, but somewhat creamy and helped along by a melty slice of what was either very mild cheddar or colby. The bacon wasn’t impressive in terms of flavor (it had a vaguely meaty saltiness, but no complexity or significant smokiness); but it was very thin and crispy, so it offered some texture.
The onion strings were lovely, very crisp and not at all greasy
As for the vegetables, the chopped lettuce was fresh and had a good crunch. The fresh onions were thinly sliced, but a bit tough, so they tended to get pulled (along with surrounding toppings) off of the burger; I couldn’t really tell what they added. The tomatoes, meanwhile, were petite and very thinly sliced, offering a bit of flavor and moisture. And the pickles were pert and applied evenly so there was a pop of acid in every bite.
That Donkey sauce, though? It tasted good on its own, but there was’t enough of it to matter. The bit spread on the top and bottom buns virtually disappeared amid the other toppings.
Average. That’s how I felt about this burger in its entirety. And I guess the price of the burger itself was somewhat average as well. But it didn’t deliver anything that made it seem worth more.
Meh. Skip over this hopelessly average celebrity-backed piece of ghost kitchen hype and support a real live local restaurant. Here are five amazing places to start.
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.