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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.
Leff's Lucky Town
7208 W. State St., (414) 258-9886
Located across the street from Hart Park and just a hop away from the Village of Wauwatosa is Leff’s Lucky Town, a popular community watering hole named with a nod to both owner Chris Loeffler and the 1992 Bruce Springsteen album.
But Lucky takes on a whole new meaning during the weeks before St. Patrick’s Day, when the bar dishes out plenty of Irish cheer in the form of Guinness, Irish whiskey and a full menu of Irish-inspired staples.
This year’s menu features a cadre of specials from reuben rolls to whiskey stout BBQ chicken sandwiches, Scotch eggs, Irish mac and cheese… AND (the burger of the month) the Irish Cheddar Burger.
Since we’re just two days away from St. Patrick’s Day, it felt appropriate to pay homage with a review of this very special burger.
The Irish Cheddar Burger features a Bunzel’s beef patty topped with bacon, Dubliner cheese, whiskey stout barbeque sauce and Irish coleslaw on a toasted brioche bun. It’s served with your choice of haystack onions, fries, housemade chips, cottage cheese, coleslaw or healthy hash ($12.50).
The carry-out burger was packaged in a recyclable cardboard box with the haystack onions and a pickle. The burger transported fairly well, arrived hot, and seemed to maintain a fair bit of its good looks thanks to a trusty toothpick securing its layers.
Pulled from the packaging, the Irish Cheddar Burger appeared as advertised with its attractive shapely bun holding a browned one-third pound burger, bits of melted Dubliner cheese, tongues of bacon and colorful pops of purple cabbage slaw. (Incidentally, the haystack onions travelled beautifully as well).
Glossy, soft and tasty, the bun was well-sized for the burger and just hefty enough to hold everything together. It was also nicely toasted, if a bit more so on the top than bottom. As a result, the bottom bun succumbed to just a hint of sogginess; but I’m chalking that up to the carry-out process, rather than the burger’s build.
The expectations were set on the burger side, based on the reputation of Bunzel’s Meat Market alone, and the gauge went even higher as I cut into the patty, removing a slice to try and found the interior nicely cooked (mine was right around medium, still boasting a hint of pink). A small squeeze between my fingers also showcased a bit of the juicy greasiness that usually bodes well for a well cooked patty.
Both the flavor and texture, however, took me by surprise. The patty, which wasn’t notably seasoned, was bland (like plain boiled beef) with an almost pasty texture. Eaten alone, it fell flat, making it fully reliant on the toppings.
I had high hopes for the toppings, which had the potential to produce a very balanced, texturally pleasing burger. But I was tentative as I tasted each one, and then the collective as a whole. Fortunately, they did not disappoint.
The creamy slaw was crisp and not overdressed, offering a great vegetal crunch. It played beautifully with the whiskey-stout barbeque sauce, which took the form of a thin, sweet glaze with a hint of whiskey flavor (and likely some roundness and balance from the stout).
The bacon was average. It has a solid pork-forward flavor and was fully cooked, though not terribly crisp. But bites that wove the bacon together with the sauce were lovely.
The Dubliner cheese was splendid, and it would have been perfect had it been more equally distributed over the burger (about a third of mine was cheese-less). It had nice salty nuttiness, which was a good foil for the sweet slaw and whiskey-stout sauce.
All in all, this burger was thoughtfully composed with a balance of sweet and salty components and a nice blend of textures to boot.
At just over $12.50 (with sides), the Irish Cheddar Burger was fairly priced. Components were fresh and of moderate quality. And, although the burger patty itself fell short, the overall package was a worthy effort.
This cleverly composed bar burger might not involve corned beef (the classic American choice for St. Patrick's Day) ; but it’s got a little bit of Irish in its blood.
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.