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.
Since carry-out is king, and there’s little better than frozen custard during the summer months, I’ll be focusing on "custard stand" burgers for the time being.
2362 S. 108th St., West Allis, (414) 327-5220
21165 Highway 18, Waukesha, (262) 798-9707
7041 S. 27th St., Franklin, (414) 304-8700
Flavor hotline: (414) 327-5768
Founded in 1984, Oscar’s has been serving up custard for over 35 years. The family run custard business, operated by Jim and Susie Taylor, has grown over the years, adding locations in Waukesha and, most recently, Franklin.
Despite their expansion, it’s still the sort of spot where you might experience serendipitous delights like a fresh, slightly warm house-made waffle cone or stopping by on a day when they serve not just one, but two, custard flavors of the day (Tuesdays). In addition to cones, sundaes, floats and custard sodas, it’s also a spot where you can order up a variety of sandwiches, salads or flame-broiled burgers.
On this trip I ordered a double cheeseburger (what they refer to as the half-pound cheeseburger) featuring two quarter-pound patties with the standard toppings: ketchup, mustard, pickle, raw onion and American cheese ($5.24) with onion rings ($2.29) and an extra thick malt ($4.39).
Carry-out burgers always suffer a bit in this department. In fact, it’s a rare case where one avoids getting a bit smashed up as it’s packaged first into its paper wrapper and then into a bag. This burger was a prime example of what often happens. The melted cheese sticks to the wrapper, the bun slides slightly askew and – if it’s particularly soft, as this one was – it ends up a little smashed. This one suffered from all of those things and still managed to look pretty OK.
Now, the bun. It was definitely soft. Maybe a bit too soft. It was soft enough that if you pressed iit down, it stayed pressed down, creating an almost doughy texture. Remember Wonder Bread? It was that kind of soft.
On the upside, it was toasted. And it was toasted on both sides, enough to give it good color but not quite in a manner that would give it a crisp toasted edge. It was well sized for the burger patties, which protruded from the edges just slightly all the way around. And it offered a good meat-to-bun ratio.
And then there were the burger patties. Flame-broiled? Yes, definitely. The flavor of that process was evident. In fact, it was a primary flavor, as the burger didn’t possess much in the way of seasoning or beefiness, albeit a slight bit of iron flavor. Texturally, it was toothy, but not overly firm; and it was neither juicy nor dry. This was the sort of burger that tasted just fine when enjoyed with all of its toppings; but it wouldn’t light a fire for me on its own.
Taking a look at the toppings, there was nicely melted American cheese, enough to cover most of the surface area of the patties. The raw onions, which came in large irregular pieces, were fresh and slightly crisp. And the condiments (ketchup and mustard) were balanced in their application, giving this burger the necessary classic cheeseburger flavor.
At just over $5 for a double, this was a very affordable burger; in today’s market (where the price for quality beef would demand a higher price), you could even call it cheap. But, this is solidly a "you get what you pay for scenario."
In the world of custard stand burgers, Oscar’s falls pretty solidly in the average camp.
Oscar’s is open from 10:30 a.m. to midnight every day of the week.
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.