By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Apr 12, 2021 at 11:06 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

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

Twisted Plants
4905 S. Packard Ave., (414) 439-4325
twistedplants.com
Currently curbside pick-up only

It’s been a while since I’ve featured a vegetable-based burger; so, with an eye for that and in support of Milwaukee Black Restaurant Week, I decided to make a trip out to Twisted Plants in Cudahy for this week’s Burger Trail burger.

At Twisted Plants, they specialize in plant-based comfort foods. So, you’ll find a host of options from loaded fries and mozzarella sticks to cauliflower bites, chick’n nuggets and sandwiches, plus brownies, cake and a variety of non-dairy shakes.

There’s also a nice selection of beef-less burgers from basics like the Friday (topped with grilled onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato and American cheese) to the Superbad (grilled onions, jalapeños, chipotle ranch and queso); the Pineapple Express (grilled onions, sweet sauce, chipotle mayo, grilled pineapple, lettuce and American cheese); and the Up in Smoke (grilled onions, smoky bacon, Twisted Smokehouse sauce, lettuce, tomato, American cheese and onion rings).

I opted for the Still Smokin’, a plant-based burger patty topped with grilled onions & mushrooms, mayo and provolone cheese, which is served with battered waffle fries ($12.50).  I added a chocolate cake shake ($8.50) because the burger, fries, shake combo is so classic.

About that shake: I loved it and would definitely order it again; but it might not be for everyone. The non-dairy base (and/or maybe the cake itself) possessed a distinctive coconut flavor. I didn’t mind, since it made the shake taste quite a bit like a Mounds bar; but if you don't like coconut or are looking for that true chocolate cake flavor, it  might come  up short for you.

Twisted Plants Still Smokin' in its carry-out containerX

Presentation: 7

All of the food, which made it to my house nice and hot, thanks to both their good packaging and my insulated bag. The burger came packaged in a paper-lined eco-friendly container. It was a bit mashed, so the pretzel bun suffered a bit in terms of looks; but overall things didn’t transport too badly.

Based on the list of ingredients, I knew this burger wasn’t going to be the prettiest of the bunch. After all, it didn’t have the benefits of frilly lettuce, red slices of tomato or even a good drippy sauce working in its favor. But, I’d chosen it expressly for the flavor profile I hoped it would possess. Despite its overall lack of color and slightly squashed bun – which didn’t give it a particular photo-worthiness – it presented relatively well, showcasing a nicely cooked plant-based patty, melted cheese and glimpses of both onions and mushrooms.

Bread/Bun: 8

In my opinion, pretzel buns are often a polarizing choice, as their distinctive flavor and heft don’t work well with every burger. But, in this case, the bun seemed a good fit.  It was dense (as pretzel buns tend to be), sufficiently soft. And Twisted Plants gave each cut side a nice crisp toast, so there was plenty of texture. Even better, the burger’s umami-rich flavor profile brought out the bun’s sweetness, contributing to the overall balance of the burger.

Burger: 9

I was pretty fond of the vegetable-based Gardein patty used on the Still Smokin’ burger. Its appearance and heft gave it a similar look and feel to a fast food patty, right down to its juicy sheen, and it was nicely cooked, with a bit of crispness on the exterior.

As for its flavor, it had a subtle smokey flavor that gave it a pleasant grilled flavor (without making it taste too artificial) and a fair amount of seasoning. It wasn’t at all bland or mushy and took on enough umami flavor that (even for a meat eater), it didn’t leave me feeling wonting. Even better, it was tasty both on its own and with the accompanying toppings.

Toppings: 9

The four toppings (grilled onions & mushrooms, mayo and provolone cheese) worked beautifully together. The mushrooms and onions were nicely cooked and layered both below and on top of the patty, so you got a bit of sweet onion and earthy mushroom in every bite. 

The plant-based mayo didn’t err on the sweeter side, as some do, so it really did a great job standing in for its egg-based counterpart. Even moreso, it was deftly applied, adding a bit of moisture to the overall sandwich and bolstering the fatty mouthfeel, ensuring that it felt indulgent enough.

Even the plant-based provolone brought assets to the table  (I'm actually really impressed by how far non-dairy cheeses have come). It melted nicely and brought a nice creamy texture to the table. It was also sufficiently salty (and maybe even slightly nutty), so it complemented the earthy mushrooms, creating a fairly classic mushroom-Swiss burger effect.

Value: 9

Plant-based ingredients (especially items like cheese and meatless patties) can be just as pricey as meat, and they often carry an up-charge at restaurants. So, at $12.50 with fries, this plant-based find isn’t badly priced. Most importantly, it was good enough that go back for a second.

Total: 42/50

The Still Smokin’ serves up more than its share of comforting plant-based burger goodness, especially for fans of the classic mushroom and Swiss.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.