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.
240 E. Pittsburgh Ave.
From its inception, Merriment Social established itself as a fun, casual spot with a quirky attitude. And, although the concept has evolved over the past two years, it’s still a great place to visit if you’re looking for a fun spot with food that always seems to go a step above what’s expected.
Merriment has been pushing out great burgers since it opened. And I’ll admit to being taken with the Merriment Burger from day one. Since then, the restaurant has gotten pretty creative with its burger toppings, rolling out special after special, as well as expanding the number of burgers on its regular menu.
This week, I visited for lunch and ordered The Cream City Special, a double burger topped with cheddar "crispies," beer cheese, caramelized onions and sweet mustard-mayo ($13). It comes with a choice of coleslaw or parmesan garlic fries (of which I ordered the latter).
So what if it’s served up on an aluminum tray? This burger makes an entrance. Its patties are piled high with deeply caramelized onions and crisp-fried slices of cheddar which are gilded with a dose of beer cheese sauce. The bun sits alongside, sporting an adorable spiral of mustard mayo. It’s all in the details. And there’s more where that came from.
The Japanese milk bun is a thing of beauty. Sweet like brioche with a super springy texture and buttery flavor, the milk bun is a great bet for a burger. And Merriment makes every single one in house. It matters. And it’s very good.
The burgers, which were cooked right around medium, were tender, juicy and pleasantly charred. The seasoning was relatively minimal, but enough to bring out the meatiness of the beef. And it was juicy. Drip down your arm juicy. So, keep a napkin ready.
Ah, yes. The toppings. Again, it’s about attention to detail. Take, for instance, the fact that the onions are genuinely caramelized. Not fried until they’re browned. Caramelized in that slow, deliberate way that results in an onion that’s meltingly tender and hauntingly savory. The beer cheese sauce added a subtle flavor, but kept the moisture content of the burger consistent. Meanwhile, the crispy salty cheddar was a nice touch – and a really nice foil for other sweet ingredients (onions, bun and mayo).
Sometimes it’s less about the dollars paid and more about the pleasure of the experience. In the case of the Cream City Special, there’s a whole lot of the latter. In the end, this burger was delicious from the first taste to the very last bite. No way I’m complaining about that.
Pro tip: If you want to save a few bucks, you can score any burger and fries for just $10 during Merriment Social's happy hour, Tuesday through Friday from 4-6 p.m.
Go, get a burger. Really.
Merriment Social is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m., Friday from 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (for brunch) and 5 to 11 p.m. (for dinner) and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (for brunch) and 4 to 9 p.m. (for dinner). Happy hour takes place Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 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.