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 Social Haus
N48W18474 W. Lisbon Rd., Menomonee Falls
The exterior of The Social Haus, located on the largely residential suburban stretch of Lisbon Road, is unlikely to catch your eye; but depending on the time of day you arrive, you might be intrigued by the parking lot filled with cars, many of which belong to regulars from the Brookfield, Sussex and Menomonee Falls area.
Inside, The Social House has a sparsely decorated-but-rustic modern look (think repurposed wood, Edison lights and rustic metal details) with the main bar as its focal point. Numerous televisions allow folks to catch the game and wooden tables accommodate small groups and diners who’d like to grab a bite off the venue’s menu, which largely features pub fare like burgers, sandwiches and appetizers.
The burgers were recommended to me by a few readers over the past year or so, and I finally got a chance to pop in late last week to give one a try. There are six from which to choose including "The Social" (lettuce, tomato, onion), "The Haus" (pulled pork and a whiskey onion ring), the Loaded Baked Potato Burger (cheddar, bacon, roasted potatoes, sour cream), a sourdough cheddar melt and the Cheese Curd Burger, which just seemed too classic Wisconsin to pass up.
The Cheese Curd Burger features cheddar cheese, bacon, fried cheese curds, and ranch dressing with pickles, lettuce, tomato and onion on the side ($13). It comes with a choice of chips or cottage cheese. Fries are available for $1 more, onion rings for $2.
Pro tip: Social Haus also offers plenty of deals on their basic burgers. You can get one for just $5 with the purchase of a beverage Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and all day on Wednesdays.
No lie. This burger was a bit of a looker with its visibly toasted bun, cocked over to the side, criss-crossed strips of nicely browned bacon, an oozing fried cheese curd and a glistening mound of cheddar encasing the half-pound burger.
The bun itself was a nice choice. It was soft and supple with a nicely browned top, and it had been generously toasted on the grill, giving it a nice crispness. And it had a nice subtle yeasty flavor that really stood back and let the rest of the ingredients shine.
When you order, you’ll be asked how you’d like your burger cooked. And, based on my experience (and that of my dining companion), you can count on your half-pound patty coming out just as you ordered it. In my case, that was a nice pink medium rare. The patty itself was hand-pattied, not too tightly, so it had plenty of juices left within – enough that they streamed out of the burger when I took a bite. The patty was also nicely seasoned on the exterior, giving it a boost to its already moderately beefy flavor.
Despite its name, the cheese curd burger doesn’t come across as much as a stunt burger as you might expect. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the role the cheese curds played, adding both an additional cheesiness and a bit of a textural crunch to the overall burger. There were probably four curds on the burger, and they were nicely secured by the melted cheddar on top of the beef patty, so they didn’t slide off as I was eating.
The bacon was nicely cooked and criss-crossed over the patty, so most bites also offered a bit of their slightly smoky, salty punch. And there was just enough ranch dressing to give the burger a bit of flavor.
I left the lettuce and tomatoes on the side of my plate, partially because the burger had enough going on already, and maybe more so because the lettuce looked like it had seen better days. The pickles were delicious, and I might have added them to the mix if I had found them in time (they were buried under my fries).
Overall, I’d put this on the pricier side of most bar burgers ($14 with fries). But it gets points for being thoughtfully executed, served up on a solid bun and cooked to order.
The Social Haus Cheese Curd Burger is a solid Wisconsin-style bar burger.
The Social Haus is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 a.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.