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.
Le Reve Patisserie & Cafe
7610 Harwood Ave.
The quaint restaurant features a sunny sidewalk patio, a bustling two-level dining room and a tempting pastry case which is always filled with artfully prepared desserts from macarons and tarts to gateaus and specialty desserts like Paris-Brest.
Beyond the desserts, which never seem to disappoint, this West Side spot has been a long-time go-to for me when I’m craving moules frites (they steam theirs in fragrant Pernod with herbs and serve them with deliciously thin, crisp frites) or croque-monsieur, a beautiful toasted ham and Gruyere sandwich on artisan sourdough with a topping of Gruyere mornay. I’d rank it the best in the city without so much as a blink.
In fact, it was the croque-monsieur that kept me from even considering the proposition of eating a burger at Le Reve. But I broke my allegiance last week when I paid a lunchtime visit explicitly to eat one of their burgers (of which there are two). The first is Le Burger Brasserie, featuring a beef patty, creamy blue cheese and caramelized onions. That sounded good, but I found myself lured by the duxelles and Gruyere on Le Bistro Burger instead.
Le Bistro Burger features a Niman Ranch prime beef patty, mushroom duxelles, fried onions and Saxon Farms Gruyere. It’s served with frites or a salad for $13.95.
Pro tip: Burgers are only served at lunch; so be sure to visit during the week to get your fix.
There’s a charm about this burger with its magnificently tall bun, crispy onions and dark burger cloaked in a spectacular covering of Gruyere. Add the lovely height of the well presented cone of frites and the overall ambiance of the table and you’ve got a pretty stellar (and yes, even fancy) burger presentation.
There’s something great about a solid, yeasty bun. And that’s just what you get at Le Reve. These rolls are fairly well sized with a crusty exterior that (maybe) made up for the surprising lack of butter or toasting on the interior. Meanwhile the interior of the bun was nice and pliable, making the burger easy to handle.
The burger is substantial and meaty, obviously hand-pattied and well seasoned with a nice toothy texture. It was well cooked (mid-rare for the win) with a nicely browned exterior and a substantial amount of pink on the interior.
As for the toppings, the duxelles was much of what you’d expect: finely chopped mushrooms danced with a bit of shallot, coating the top of the burger with a layer of flavor that didn’t really budge, even as you ate (far better than sliced mushrooms, which routinely fall out of the bun waywardly dropping to the plate at every turn). As for flavor, it was earthy, a nice complement to the nutty melted Gruyere … but also truffley. I suspect there was truffle oil involved, and maybe just a bit too much as its potent flavor seemed a bit overwhelming at times. I appreciated far more the fried onions – which were actually battered and fried – offering an oniony flavor and plenty of texture to boot.
The value here is evident in the finer details from the quality burger and nicely matched bun to the flavorful cheese and nicely minced duxelle. There’s texture and balance and – best of all – it’s topped with enough flavor that one needn’t tap into the aioli or ketchup served alongside the frites to give it a satisfying flavor.
If you’d like a mushroom Swiss with a bit of French flair, this burger is the appropriate choice.
Le Reve is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 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.