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.
Milwaukee Brat House
1013 N. Old World 3rd St., (414) 273-8709
4022 N. Oakland Ave. (414) 539-5826
Milwaukee Brat House is among a bevvy of places that feel innately Milwaukee. They’ve got sausages and sports and some seriously good fried cheese curds, all served up in a classic, somewhat dark tavern-like atmosphere that’s also family friendly.
With two locations (Downtown and Shorewood), it’s also an accessible spot for either dine-in or carry-out, pretty much wherever you live. So, it’s no surprise that they also offer a selection of signature burgers (along with build-your-own).
I’ll be honest, I’ve usually stuck to the sausage portion of the menu on my past visits (they’re right in the name, after all), so in trying out one of their burgers, I settled on a classic choice: the bacon cheeseburger.
The bacon cheeseburger features a beef burger, bacon and choice of cheese; served with one side ($11.95). I ordered mine with American cheese and a side of fries.
The burger and fries was packaged in a recyclable plastic container that did develop a bit of condensation, but not enough to spoil the crispness of the fries; it was packed well, meaning that the burger got home intact and looking pretty stellar. Packages of ketchup and mustard were included, as was a side of pickles (thank you!).
The bun was beautifully browned and shiny, and the presentation showed off the deeply colored burger, two slices of cheese and a good showing of glistening bacon.
The bun was large and soft (obviously fresh) with a very light toasting that was evident mainly on the bun’s edges. It was nicely flavored and pretty well sized for the burger, though its heft left it right on the border of being slightly too much bread in proportion to the meat and toppings (but still passable). It was the sort of bun that would have preferred a double burger or which would have been absolutely perfect for a sloppy, greasy sandwich that needed a landing pad for grease and juices.
The burger itself was uniformly shaped and fairly tightly packed with a dark exterior that showcased grill marks on one side and less dramatic color on the other. It was well seasoned, most notably with black pepper and more-or-less cooked to order (I ordered it mid-rare knowing it would be at least medium when I got it home, and it was just slightly past that mark). The beef itself possessed no off flavors; but it was slightly drier in texture and fairly dense (it just felt very lean, overall) without the greasiness that pulls a burger out of the average camp and really makes it feel like an indulgence.
The cheese was just melted atop the burger, and this was definitely a case where I think the umami of the American cheese contributed significantly to the overall flavor; it also contributed a richness that the burger itself was missing. The bacon appeared to be of good quality; it was thick-cut with a moderate chew and a pleasantly salty, smoky flavor.
I love a burger that either comes with intentional well-thought-out condiments or that’s just delicious without them. This burger did benefit from the addition of the included pickles, both for a boost of moisture and a pop of acid that cut through all the meat and cheese. As an added bonus, the pickles were pretty tasty with a moderate level of both brininess and acidity.
Right around $12 is a fairly average price for a burger and fries, so in some ways, this burger was more than worth it. It had a great bun, solid toppings and it came off looking really great. The one thing missing? A really stellar burger patty.
It’s not all sausages at the Milwaukee Brat House
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.