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 Iron Horse Hotel
500 W. Florida St., (414) 831-4677
It’s not hyperbole to say that The Yard provides one of the best ground level patio experiences in the city. Tucked away behind a wall of natural stone and surrounded by beautiful landscaping, the well-equipped outside area provides a true escape from its surroundings.
A covered pergola protects guests from errant rain showers, fire tables offer heat on cooler nights, and myriad types of seating makes it a great place to hang out for drinks or enjoy a meal.
On the menu you’ll find craft brews, cocktails and non-alcoholic options, plus a small-but varied menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and a couple of entrees.
Among the choices are two burgers. The first is “The Burger,” which features two beef patties, pickles, umami mayo (black garlic mayo) and American cheese ($15). In fact, if you go this route, you’ll find a fairy solid, classic flavored burger at your disposal, amped up just a bit by the umami-rich black garlic.
The second (which I tried for this review) is their bacon cheeseburger, which is topped with one beef patty, slices of green apple, cheddar cheese, arugula and lemon aioli ($17). Both are served with house fries.
From its shiny-topped bun, to its layers of bacon, beautifully melted cheese, a nip of burger and glimpse of arugula, the bacon cheeseburger makes a pretty good showing. I was already curious about how the combination of toppings would come together, but a glance at the burger just made me more interested in digging in.
The bun itself was fresh and soft, and it possessed the beautifully sweet, rich flavor that’s a hallmark of brioche. Both cut sides were buttered and toasted, albeit a bit unevenly with the most color on the edges, and where it was truly well toasted, the bun possessed a pleasant crunch that added to the textural elements of the burger. It may have been a bit large for the one, thin burger patty, but the addition of plentiful bacon and cheese created the balance that may have otherwise been lacking.
The burger patty was thin and uniformly shaped. It was char-grilled, offering a dark crust on a good percentage of the patty. A bite of the burger confirmed that the exterior of the patty was seasoned with salt and pepper. It was fully cooked (I’d gauge it at well done) with a crisp exterior and enough fat to keep the interior of the burger from feeling dry. All of that said, the char flavor was prominent, enough so that it was difficult to suss out the flavor of the beef itself.
As for the toppings, they worked remarkably well, creating a fresh summery burger that still had a good deal of classic burger elements intact. First, there was no shortage of bacon, and the slices that adorned the burger were nicely cooked; the texture was fairly crisp and easy to bite through, and it possessed the balance in flavor that’s optimal for bacon: salty, sweet and smokey. The cheese was plentiful, cloaking the burger in a nicely melted even layer, and its flavor came through against the char of the burger.
The cheese paired nicely with the fresh slices of green apple; they were thin and crisp with a fresh flavor that offered both sweet and sour notes. The crispness also added a really nice texture to the burger overall. Even better, in combination with the fresh, pepper arugula and bright lemon aioli, it rounded out the burger’s meaty-cheesy heft, giving it a fresh summery flavor that not only tasted great, but fit the ambiance of the patio itself.
The bacon cheeseburger definitely errs on the pricier side, both in comparison to its competitors and in conjunction with its overall ingredients, none of which required labor-intensive techniques. Certainly, there are some lovely elements to be found -- from the truly fresh ingredients, to the housemade aioli – and, undoubtedly, those contribute to a slightly elevated experience and a beautifully balanced burger. But I’d have a hard time giving this big points for being value driven.
The bacon cheeseburger at The Yard makes great use of unique toppings to build a refreshing summer take on the classic.
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.