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.
The Hale House
10539 W. Forest Home Ave., Hales Corners
Since opening in 2015, The Hale House has forged a reputation for itself thanks to a locally focused craft beer list and from-scratch pub-style menu featuring everything from wings and "cheese curds" (made with lightly battered fried queso blanco) to salads, macaroni and cheese and a popular Friday night fish fry.
We’ve also heard that it serves up a pretty good burger. So, we made it a point to travel south this past week to check it out.
On the menu you’ll find a variety of signature burgers from the Hale to the Bleu, the Cajun Cheese Curd Burger and the Sunrise Burger topped with a house made potato pancake, bacon, aged cheddar cheese and an egg. On the day we visited, there was also an intriguing-sounding special: a bourbon pear burger. But we opted for a more classic preparation.
The Steakhouse Burger features a half-pound grilled sirloin patty topped with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese with a red wine demi sauce on a toasted brioche bun. Choice of sides includes handcut fries, haystack onions, Hale House chips, side salad, soup, coleslaw or fresh vegetable of the day ($12).
Fun fact: Located along what was once known as the Janesville Plank Road, The Hale House is the site for an historical marker which indicates that the property was home to an opera house built by Adam Conrad in the late 1800s. Ironically, the "opera house" was used as a location for parties, movies and dances … but never an opera.
This is not a shy burger. It’s little brioche hat is tipped to one side, revealing a nicely browned patty cloaked thoroughly with melted Swiss cheese and piled high with a beautiful mess of deeply browned onions and sauteed mushrooms. I was happy to see that the red wine demi was served alongside; it’s perfect for dipping.
The brioche was lovely and fresh with a nicely browned exterior and a soft, sweet crumb. It was nicely sized for the hefty burger and did its job while adding a nice flavor. In fact, its only failing was that it wasn’t fully toasted. There was a bit of brown at the edges, but none of the crisp butteriness that (for me) comprises the ideal.
The juices flowed as I cut my burger in half to inspect the level of doneness. I’d ordered my burger mid-rare; but based on appearance it came out closer to medium.
Nonetheless, the patty was juicy with visible grill marks on its exterior. The meat was only lightly seasoned, with salt and pepper if I were to guess; but it was juicy and meaty – a hallmark of ground sirloin – with a nice loose texture.
Let’s begin with the Swiss cheese. It was melted perfectly over the top of the burger – just as it should be. Although subtle, its flavor was sweet and nutty and complemented the earthiness of the sauteed mushrooms, which were mixed in with a hefty pile of beautifully caramelized onions. And yes, folks, these were caramelized onions. They were deep and dark and very sweet with the tinge of umami that marks a good, long caramelization.
The red wine demi was also good. It was savory and rich with a round fruitiness from the wine. And it kept the burger’s toppings – which skewed on the sweeter side – in check with its moderate level of salt.
This generously topped half-pounder didn’t scrimp on features. It was meaty and its toppings were generous. I’d say it’s a fair value at $12.
The Hale House serves up a meaty fine Steakhouse Burger.
The Hale House is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. The kitchen is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a 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.