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.
Heirloom MKE (food truck)
Since September of 2020, Pete and Jess Ignatiev have been keeping folks well fed with a menu of creative seasonal dishes that make use of local ingredients, from house-made burrata and fried chicken sandwiches to steamed mussels, all served up from their cheerful yellow food truck.
The truck makes regular rounds in the Wauwatosa area, parking regularly at spots like The Fermentorium and Ray’s Wine & Spirits, but also making the rounds at stops like Lost Valley Cider in Walker’s Point and the City Green Apartments on Cass Street. And I’ve been eyeing them up for a burger stop for some time now.
Heirloom offers both a meat based and veggie burger option. The “Where’s The Beet?” burger features a housemade veggie patty, lettuce, tomato, onion and roasted garlic aioli on a brioche bun ($12).
I tried the Heirloom Burger featuring a Niman Ranch beef patty, Carr Valley cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion and house sauce on a brioche bun ($12). I also got an order of spicy fries served with cucumber dill dipping sauce ($4.50).
This burger came neatly packaged in an eco-friendly burger box lined with paper, and it already looked pretty stellar with its glossy bun, red tomato and melted cheese. But it unpacked looking even better, showcasing its purple-hued red onion slices, deeply colored burger patty, crisp lettuce and even a bit of sexy house sauce.
There was no fault to find in the brioche bun, which was fresh with a sturdy-yet-soft build. Its cut sides were beautifully toasted and its slightly sweet flavor offered a nice counterpoint to the largely savory burger. It was also well sized for the substantial beef patty
The hand pattied burger boasted telltale irregular edges, a moderately loose pack and a beautiful char over a large portion of its exterior. Inside, it was cooked to right around medium. It was beautifully juicy and the meat had a solid fat content, giving the beef a good mouthfeel.
The beef had a robustly beefy flavor, a quality only enhanced by deft seasoning and complemented by the flavor of the grilled exterior. This burger would have been good on its own, but it also played beautifully with the remaining toppings.
Fresh was the word that kept running through my mind as I sorted through the toppings. The tomato was beautiful, ruby red and not too thickly sliced. The lettuce was crisp and fresh, and – along with the fresh rings of red onion – offered the burger a nice textural element with every bite. And the sweet burger sauce offered a counterpoint to both the freshness of the vegetables and the savory, umami in both the beef and cheese.
Cheddar cheese can be a gamble on a burger, sometimes going greasy when melted or possessing a flavor that gets lost in the shuffle. Such was not the case here. The cheese was very nicely melted over the burger, well distributed and its slightly sharp flavor came through clearly. In fact, it played nicely off of the char on the burger, offering the sandwich a beautifully complex flavor.
When the meat on a burger is of high quality and has been treated and cooked with expertise, and when that’s followed by a thoughtfully composed list of ingredients, each of which brings something to the table, you have the makings of a great burger that’s well worth a $12 price tag.
The Heirloom Burger is right up there with some of the better burgers in town.
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.