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.
Precinct Tap + Table
W161 N11629 Church Ave., Germantown
It’s been nearly two months since Precinct Tap + Table, the new restaurant from Chef Jodi Janisse Kanzenbach, opened in Germantown. So my guess is that there’s still a good number of people who haven’t yet had the pleasure of paying a visit.
But there are plenty of reasons to put the new restaurant on your list, including its bright, industrial-inspired digs, open kitchen, quaint patio and locally focused, seasonal menu featuring creative appetizers, shareable plates, stone-fired pizzas and seasonal entrees like Caribbean mojo pork tenderloin, pan-seared walleye and onion crusted halibut as well as more casual options like sandwiches and burgers.
Nearly two years ago, I reviewed the Overstuffed Wisconsinite burger at Cafe Soeurette, Kanzenbach’s former restaurant in West Bend … and it was impressive. A renamed version of that burger is also on Precinct’s menu (it’s now called The Wisco Burger). But I was eager to try a brand new option: The Drive By.
The Drive By features two beef patties, "fancy" sauce, grilled onion, American cheese, lettuce and pickles on a split top bun with a side of French fries ($13).
This burger is a cutie. It’s served open-faced on a rectangular plate, so you can see all the melty American cheese oozing down the sides of the double beef patties. They’re topped with a beautifully dappled grilled onion. Meanwhile, the top bun sits to the side, augmented with a frill of green farm-fresh lettuce and razor thin bread and butter pickles.
The bun is a well-appointed choice. It’s soft and nicely flavored. A bit sweet and pleasantly yeasty, it was nicely sized and just sturdy enough to do its job holding things together. As for execution, it was beautifully buttered and toasted, giving it great texture and a nice light crispness. And – in the end – held up to the juicy burger like a champ.
The burger patties themselves were slightly thicker than expected, likely weighing in at about a quarter-pound each. They were nicely grilled, with the meat coming in right around medium or slightly over. The beef was neatly, but deftly packed, giving the burger a tender, juicy texture. And the flavor was just right: meaty, beefy and just seasoned enough to bring out its assets.
I was pleased with the burger as-is; but (and here’s where my personal bias shows) I couldn’t help but wonder if thinner, smash-burger style patties would have made this burger next-to-perfect.
The toppings on The Drive By were nicely balanced. The lettuce was crisp and fresh, and the "fancy" sauce was creamy, tangy and bright, offering a nice counter to the rich meat and making any other condiments unnecessary. The cheese was plentiful and nicely melted, offering a good amount of salty umami.
Meanwhile, the grilled onion provided the best of both worlds. The heat had tempered the sharpness of its flavor, but it still possessed a bit of the nice crunch you get from raw onion. Meanwhile, the thin bread and butter style pickles offered a pleasant sweetness and nice tang throughout.
This burger is among the gems I’ve encountered on the trail. It makes good use of quality ingredients, exhibits an attention to detail, expertise in execution and a flavor profile that’s both balanced and chock-full of the umami that makes a great burger such a pleasure to eat.
The Drive By burger at Precinct Tap + Table is well worth seeking out.
Precinct Tap + Table is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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.