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 Pfister Hotel
Lobby Lounge or The Cafe
424 E. Wisconsin Ave.
The Lobby Lounge at The Pfister is among my favorite places in the city. It’s cozy and well-appointed, a bit swank but still comfortable. It’s a great spot for people watching, occasionally meeting fun people from out of town, and just getting cozy next to the fireplace.
It’s also a great spot to grab a drink (it has a good wine list and the bloody mary is top-notch) or even breakfast or lunch (you can order right off The Pfister Cafe menu). If I’m honest, it wouldn’t have been a spot I’d have thought to order a burger. But it came recommended so highly by an OnMilwaukee reader, I had to check it out.
The Pfister Burger is comprised of a half-pound premium black Angus beef patty with lettuce, tomato and cheddar (or your choice of cheese), $15.
Right out of the gate, the burger patty is on display. Laid bare next to its glossy brioche bun, the perfectly round patty is cloaked with a well-melted layer of glistening cheddar. In my case, the tomato and lettuce were buried a bit underneath the hearty portion of thin, crisp fries, but there was plenty of color thanks to the condiment assortment that accompanied.
The brioche bun was fresh and soft, its flavor slightly rich and sweet. It was a good size for the burger and came nicely toasted, enough so that you could sense a bit of crunch around the edges.
Judged on appearance alone, I wasn’t sure what to think about the burger. The patty was uniform in size and shape, with distinct grill marks on both the top and bottom. Overall it appeared to be fairly dense. However, when I cut into it and gave it a taste, I was surprised to find a relative loose pack, along with a beautifully mid-rare interior. The interior was juicy and well seasoned with a beefy flavor that was enhanced by a bit of char-grilled flavor (apparent, but not overwhelming). A beautiful burger, really, and one that could be easily eaten sans bun.
The burger was good enough on its own that it didn’t need much to shine. The cheese was nicely melted and – thanks to the lack of distractions – the cheddar flavor came through quite nicely, even though it wasn’t particularly sharp. The lettuce was fresh and crisp with good flavor. The tomato was… well, it was a winter tomato. Fortunately, it wasn’t a necessary component.
I didn’t find the need for condiments, though a bit of the spicy aioli offered a nice tang.
The Pfister Burger runs a few dollars more than most at $15, but I didn’t find myself scoffing at the bill. After all, it was well executed, cooked perfectly to order and delicious, even in its simplicity. I also got to eat it sitting in a comfy chair by the cozy fireplace; so in that sense, I’m happy to pay a dollar or two for ambience.
The Pfister Burger is a deceptively simple, but well executed burger where the beef is the star of the show.
The Pfister Cafe is open daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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.