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.
Saz's Miller High Life Pavilion
Wisconsin State Fair
Adjacent to the Giant Slide
We're in the throes of the Wisconsin State Fair. So, it only seemed right to take swift right on the Burger Trail to try out at least one burger at this yearly celebration of Wisconsin agriculture, food and culture.
After considering a number of burgers, I opted for one that sounded promising (let’s face it, Saz’s sour cream and chive fries have been a crowd favorite for years, so why not a burger that features the same flavors?). I also thought it would be nice to showcase one of the places on the grounds where folks can have a seat, relax and engage in a full service experience.
You can do just that at the Saz’s Miller High Life Pavilion, which features an outdoor patio area complete with menus and waitstaff. It’s a great spot to unwind after a long day of walking or a few too many hours in the sun. Even better, it’s relatively centrally located, so you don’t have to travel too far from any direction to get there.
The Stephanie Burger (noted as being Saz's most popular burger at the Saz's StateHouse) features a one-third pound patty on a pretzel bun with fried onions, bacon, cheddar cheese and sour cream and chive sauce. It also includes a generous portion of sour cream and chive fries.
If the burger patty and cheese had looked a bit more fresh, there would be little awry with the presentation on this burger. After all, it sports a nice fluffy bun with visible layers of ingredients, including a peek of bacon and fried onions.
The pretzel bun itself was soft and fresh with a nice sweet flavor. However, pretzel buns are substantial, and they require a particular type of burger to really work well: namely one that’s hefty enough to stand up against its extremely bready, dense texture. In this case, that wasn’t necessarily true, and I found that the bun largely overwhelmed the burger, cutting down the score relatively significantly.
I’m going to guess that most people don’t go through the motions of taking a burger apart to judge the quality of the burger patty inside. But, for the purpose of this series, I do. And sometimes what I find is perplexing. In the case of this burger, I found a fairly tightly molded patty with a distinctly scalloped edge.
Now, I’ve not eaten a burger at Saz’s in a long while, so I’m not sure if these are the same patties they use at the restaurant; but, judging from the shape, these aren’t hand-pattied (likely a convenience, given the volume of food served at the Fair). It wasn’t the type of burger I’d want to eat without the benefit of toppings and a bun, and the score reflects the fact that this is, overall, a pretty average burger. Given that, the seasoning was adequate, and the patty wasn’t overly dry -- both bonuses for a burger that’s been tightly packed and cooked to well-done. And trust me when I say that dry burgers are an all-too-common occurrence, particularly at festivals.
The burger’s toppings were a mixed bag. The cheddar had good flavor and was well melted, covering the bulk of the burger and offering its flavor to every bite. The onions were sweet, but a bit stringy in texture and concentrated pretty solidly over one portion of the burger. Meanwhile, the bacon was thin and crisp, but quite spare; in the end, it was difficult to suss out its flavor and texture, which was largely masked by the other ingredients.
The burger (and its big bun) definitely benefited from the addition of the sour cream and chive sauce, which offered both moisture and flavor. I also found the burger benefited quite a bit from the addition of the pickles which were served alongside. They added some nice texture and the vinegar added a nice balanced flavor boost that played well with the other flavors.
Food at the State Fair isn’t known for being particularly affordable. So I took that into consideration as I contemplated the value of this particular burger. At $9.50, it stacks up well against a variety of other options, especially considering it comes with a very generous portion of sour cream and chive fries.
If you’re craving a burger – and you have an affection for Saz’s sour cream and chive sauce, this has the potential to satisfy your burger craving at the fair.
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.