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.
14460 College Ave., New Berlin
If you’ve never been to Matty’s Bar in New Berlin, I’d describe it as a clean modern sports bar with the soul of a Wisconsin "townie" bar. It’s the sort of place that caters to countless regulars, but which welcomes newcomers with a friendly smile. It's also a place known for its burgers, making it the perfect destination for the Burger Trail.
You can take a seat in the bar area, which is decorated with local sports photos and memorabilia or in the four seasons room, which looks and feels more restaurant-like. In the summer, there’s always the option of the bar’s well-appointed patio, which features open-air seating and an outdoor fire pit for cooler evenings.
On our visit, I ordered the Bleu Burger, a half-pound pub burger topped with blue cheese, mushrooms, mayo, Romaine lettuce and red onion ($13). The burger came with a choice of sides (house potato chips, fries, onion straws, coleslaw, vegetables, fruit) or "premium sides" for an additional $1.50 (sweet potato fries, side salad, soup, or chips with French onion dip).
The Bleu Burger makes its entrance on an aluminum tin lined with black and white checkered paper. The burger itself is wrapped cozily in paper, so you could, ostensibly, forego the mess of eating it with your bare hands. It was a fine looking burger, proudly sporting a hand-formed patty coated in cheese and mayo along with a colorful array of toppings. It’s the sort of burger that incites hunger at a glance, which is always a very good sign.
The brioche bun was well-sized for the burger. It was soft and supple with enough support to encase the toppings and it added a nice sweet flavor to the mix.
Matty’s burgers are cooked to order with a choice of "pink" or "not pink"; I opted for "pink" which resulted in a solidly medium burger with a vague pink hue on the interior.
The "Smokehouse Burgers" are made with a blend of house-smoked ground brisket and certified Angus beef, a combination which takes advantage of the hearty, beefy flavor of brisket (a well used muscle on any cow) and the natural marbling of Angus beef. So I expected the meat to have a rich, smoky flavor and a tender, juicy texture … it was, and yet it wasn’t. The smoke flavor, if present, was exceedingly subtle. And texturally, the patty was firm and less juicy than I expected. It was lightly seasoned, but not enough to give it a salty flavor.
It wasn’t the sort of burger that I’d enjoy eating on its own (which is always a slight disappointment); however, it definitely held its own when complemented by the toppings.
The toppings were the star of the burger, offering a nice balance of moisture and flavors. Both the sauteed mushrooms and lettuce were chopped, allowing better distribution in each bite of the burger. The blue cheese – an ingredient that can vary from extremely pungent to mild – was definitely on the mild side. In fact, being a blue cheese lover, I would have appreciated a bit more of it, as its flavor got lost a bit in the mix. There was a good amount of mayonnaise, which offered moisture and kept the crumbled blue cheese in place.
The one piece of criticism I’d have is that there were too many slices of onion on the burger. I like onions (both raw and cooked); but in this case, their flavor was a bit too strong. So, I opted to remove about a third of them before finishing my burger.
At $13 (with fries) this burger was fairly priced. Despite any misgivings I had about the burger itself, the sandwich was tasty. Combined with a generous portion of fries, it made for a filling lunch that I could barely finish.
Although it had its flaws, Matty’s Bleu Burger was only a few tweaks from being among the best I’ve had yet on the Burger Trail.
Matty’s Bar is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. During the winter months, the kitchen closes at 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday.
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.