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.
1327 E. Brady St., (414) 988-4629
I’m quite sure that singer-songwriter Jim White was not referring to Saint Bibiana when he wrote the words “A bar is just a church where they serve beer.” But they are apt, nonetheless, when describing the Brady Street bar and restaurant which opened earlier this summer.
After all, the venue is named for Saint Bibiana, a martyr sometimes known as the patron saint of hangovers. And the venue was designed to resemble a little East Side church ... albeit a very sexy church with a neon glow in its balcony and tempting portraits of angels watching over all who partake at the bar.
Currently, Saint Bibiana offers a full bar and an abbreviated food menu that boasts all-day breakfast items like scratch biscuits topped with fried chicken, poached egg and hollandaise ($13.95) and decked out avocado toast with chorizo, red onion, tomato, eggs and Sriracha crema ($13.95); rounding out the menu are bar snacks like nachos, loaded fries and pickle chips ($7.95-$9.95) and a few sandwiches including buttermilk fried chicken (two varieties, $10.95), deep fried spiral-cut hot dogs on a toasted bun with pancetta, onions and red pepper aioli ($9.95) and the Bibiana Burger.
The Bibiana Burger features two 3-ounce ground beef patties, American cheese, grilled onions, sliced pickles and “Saint Sauce” on a sesame seed bun ($12.95 with fries). You can make it a triple for +$2.
Neither the gates of heaven nor hell opened when the burger was delivered to my table on its paper covered tray. But my salivary glands did quiver a bit as my eyes gave the burger a run down, from its golden brown seeded bun and thick-sliced pickles, to its glistening caramelized burger patties cloaked in melted cheese and resting on a bed of thinly sliced griddled onion. Yeah, it looked pretty darned good.
The bun was soft and pliable with just enough heft to hold up against the juiciness of the burger (which was juicy … and greasy and messy … in a good way). It was lightly toasted on both cut sides and nicely sized for the 6-ounces of meat it held (add a third patty and you’ll get a meaty burger, but it will be out of balance). As for its flavor, it possessed a subtle sweetness that complemented the salty, savory elements of the burger nicely.
The burger patties were moderately thin and beautifully browned with notably crisp edges that tasted of salt and beef. The meat itself was well-seasoned with a saltiness that underscored the beefy flavor of the patties. They were cooked through, but pleasantly greasy, with juices that ran out onto my fingers as I ate, soaking the bun beneath and making me reach for a napkin between bites.
A simple, well-prepared burger is a thing of beauty. But, as I’ve noted on numerous occasions, it can be tricky to pull off. The fewer the toppings, the more the burger depends on the quality and flavor of the meat. And – when you look beyond the meat – the remaining ingredients need to be on par. They need to taste great and offer a balanced flavor profile.
The Bibiana scored well on all of those counts. The nicely melted American cheese contributed its signature boost of umami and creamy texture. The griddled onions offered a vague sweetness to counter the salt. And the Saint Sauce pulled things together with its sweet and slightly tangy flavor.
Lastly, you’ve got the pickles. They did their job, offering a bright pop of acid (which helps balance all the meaty richness) and a notable amount of crunch. If I had to offer any criticism of this burger, it’s that those pickle slices – good as they were – were cut slightly too thick, so they stood out a bit more than may have been ideal.
A great burger is comprised of three elements technique, composition and flavor. When you get all of that (and a bag of fries) for $12.95, you don’t blink. Or hesitate. You just dig in.
This two-napkin burger easily ranks among the top burgers in the city.
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.