Last year I did a list of useless shit at the end of 2009 and figured I would do it again for 2010. Sorry it’s over a week late but I have been busy. I know excuses, excuses…
These 6 burgers were my favorites of 2010.
The Old Fashioned, Madison WI
The Old Fashioned House Burger is one of the best in the state. It’s a different animal than the much talked about A.J. Bombers and Sobleman Burgers. It’s a large, locally sourced pub burger that showcases Wisconsin products and you’ll see that three of the burgers on my list also follow this formula with a great deal of success. This one is made with local grass-fed beef with local bacon, aged Wisconsin cheddar, garlic sauce, fried onions, and a fried egg. It’s a masterpiece and eating it in the incomparable Old Fashioned just adds to its’ allure.
Stack’d, Milwaukee, WI
Stack’d took over the space that was once occupied by the Social and turned it into a burger mecca. They have some of their own creations but also let you build a burger to your specifications. Mine was a riff on a bacon-wrapped jalapeno popper on a Miller Bakery Pretzel Roll It featured medium-rare Wisconsin grass-fed beef, goat cheese, jalapeno peppers, and bacon. The burgers come with a couple of tasty fried pickle coins and your choice of hand cut fries, twisted mac and cheese (cheddar, smoked gouda, and blue cheese), slaw, onion rings, or seasonal fruit. The fries were some of the best around. The diverse beer selection adds to the allure.
Bunker’s Classic Lounge, West Allis
Brad’s Barn Buster Similar in construction to the Old Fashioned burger, the Barn Buster is created using nothing but the finest local ingredients. This time its 1/2 pound patty is topped with local bacon, onions, cheddar cheese, a spectacular tomato jam and a fried egg. The whole thing is awesome but what I really liked was the tomato jam. I don’t like ketchup or mustard on burgers but I loved the tomato jam on this one. Unlike A Hamburger Today’s Milwaukee Correspondent, I found this burger to be awesome.
Miller’s Pub, Chicago IL
Recommended by a family member since we were staying at the nearby Palmer House Hilton, Miller’s Pub is a fun, old school Chicago pub and restaurant. Its warm, welcoming, and cozy, not to mention very lively (expect a short wait). LTH forum members rave about the Greek Burger but I had blue cheese on my mind so I went with one of those. It was just a classic pub burger. No frills, no special sauce, no lengthy pedigree of the ingredients, just a straightforward, thick, juicy, and delicious burger. The beer selection is awesome and we lucked out and dined there during Stone Arrogant Bastard Week.
The Cooper’s Tavern, Madison, WI
The Cooper’s Burger might be the best burger of the year. It was incredible. Locally Raised beef topped with aged cheddar, house made pork belly, and lettuce, onion, mayo, and pickles (which I removed and ate separately. Love pickles, don’t like ’em on burgers). The burger was a perfect medium rare and though it kind of falls apart as you eat it, I enjoyed every bite. The house made potato chips were a nice side dish. After two visits, I can say that I love this place. Look for my full review in a week or so.
Bartolotta’s North Point Custard, Milwaukee
The Bartolotta’s seem to be taking a cue from New York’s famous Shake Shack with their Northpoint Custard concept. Great affordable food set up in a public park. They took over the Bradford Beach Concession Stand and made it a popular lakefront dining destination with their simple menu and perfect execution. The burgers are very good, especially with the Northpoint sauce. The fries are good but I prefer the tater tots. A new Mitchell Airport location (in the concourse before security checkpoints so everyone can go) brings the flavors of summer year-round and they also serve breakfast, including burgers!
Trinity Three Irish Pub, Milwaukee WI
The Other Burger was an unexpected surprise. I figured it would be a run of the mill pub burger but I was happy to be proven wrong. A giant 1/2 pound Angus patty topped with Guinness soaked mushrooms, a special Trinity sauce (made with mayo, sour cream, Dijon mustard, horseradish, Worcestershire Sauce, demi glace, and black pepper), sharp white cheddar, and onion strings on a ciabatta roll.
This was a pretty dull year for cookbooks in my opinion. Steven Raichlen released the well-researched, globe-trotting grilling and smoking manifesto called “Planet Barbecue,” which I always open when looking for grilling recipes or ideas. I also loved Melissa Guggina’s Primal Cuts for its unique approach on nose-to-tail eating. The book pretty much takes the intimidation factor out using offal or lesser-known cuts of meat while showcasing some people who are at the forefront of the butcher and charcuterie renaissance in America. I loved Bourdain’s “Medium Raw,” too.
FAVORITE NEW COOKING THINGS
Yes, I am like Oprah!
The Cooking Channel
Finally the Food Network reaches out to those who made their network so popular in the first place, people who actually like to cook, not watch a bunch of people in engaged in a cupcake war. The network is loaded with great shows, my favorite being “Cook Like an Iron Chef” with Michael Symon. Unlike most shows on the parent network, the one refuses to pander to the lowest common denominator. The recipes are complex and take some time, which makes it appealing to people like me. I also love (surprisingly) Bitchin’ Kitchen. The premise seems stupid, but it works. There are laugh out loud moments in every episode and the host, Nadia G, cooks some impressive meals and most impressive of all, she encourages people to make stock. When was the last time Rachel Ray did that?
These knives are very sharp and very cheap. A Chef’s knife for 5 bucks, cleaver for 8, and a paring knife for 3? They aren’t going to last as as long as a Wusthoff classic but I have really enjoyed these.
These are things that annoyed me in 2010
Its a processed glob of pork parts formed into a disturbing rib shape and soaked in some terrible BBQ sauce put on a flavorless bun. Why do people love it so?
I like cupcakes, especially fancy ones. What I don’t like is Cupcake related TV shows. Seems like every time I turn on the Food Network some asshole is making cupcakes.
Writing about food trends
Every publication tries to come up with what will be the hot new trends. Some I think are probably on the mark while others, like the Milwaukee Journal, are just stealing ideas from other publications or identifying trends that are two years old. Whats worse about the Journal list is that they are using the tired cliché of saying “blank is the new blank.” Grass fed beef is the new free range chicken? What? Please just stop this nonsense. The only new food trend that I care about is eating better food.
The idea is noble and I am behind the movement but relegating it to one day guarantees its going to be a fad. If you take the approach of eating no meat one day a week people are likely to stick with it. Picking a specific day based solely on alliteration makes no sense. Plus I’d much rather balance out the suckiness of Mondays with a nice steak or burger and save the vegetarian fare for a more pleasant day like Thursday.
Saying things are important
Enough with this shit about what is the most important restaurant in the world or who is the most important chef in America. Its just food and 99.999 percent of the public will likely never eat at these so called “important” places, making them kind of unimportant in my book. Lighten up and enjoy it. You sound like a self-absorbed, pretentious music critic when you write this shit.
Thanks for another fun year on EatWisconsin. Probably blogged less this year than ever but I have some new ideas for 2011. Since I don’t eat out as much as I used to, you are going to see more cooking articles. I also am planning on doing some interesting stuff on wild game with the idea of giving people some new ideas on what to do with all that duck, pheasant, goose, deer, etc that Wisconsin hunters’ families have accumulated their chest freezers. I have a friend that indicated he might post some stuff on this as well. I am not a hunter myself but people give me stuff and I thoroughly enjoy it so this will be a fun way to do something that I think a lot of Wisconsinites would be interested in. Early posts will include Wisconsin Farm Raised Elk and in interesting twist on Canada Goose breast.