12550 W. Burleigh Road, Brookfield WI 53005 (map); 262-790-0726; boulderjunctiongrill.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Kids and hunters alike enjoy both the juicy, huge burgers and the taxidermy
Want Fries With That? Steak fries are chunky, crisp on the outside, and fluffy inside
Price: Boulder cheeseburger, $8.99; cheeseburger, $7.99; Buckaroo platter, $9.99
Who wants to eat at a vaguely Western-themed family restaurant where one side of the dining room is a giant rock wall full of taxidermy animals, a waterfall and a pond full of live fish? The real question is, who doesn't? Boulder Junction is wonderfully kitsch, or, if you prefer, tastefully decorated and even doubles as a kid distractor.
Best of all, you don't have to settle for bad food to soak up that atmosphere. While it's far from a top burger in the city, it's still pretty good, especially considering there aren't a ton of other noteworthy burger places in Brookfield.
By far the best part of the burger is the beef, as it should be. The menu proudly states the burger uses never frozen Black Angus, and it's grilled over hardwood and charcoal. The smokiness from the grill was surprisingly light, which I actually prefer, letting the flavor of the beef shine through.
The hand-formed patties were massive: 10 ounces on the Boulder cheeseburger and eight ounces on the regular cheeseburger. Both were ordered medium, and both came pretty close. Although they were slightly overcooked, the fresh beef held up to medium well gallantly and the burgers dripped juice when I cut them in half. The only thing that needed improvement was the seasoning: It was pretty light, and some more salt could have really punched up the bold flavor of the beef.
Big beef needs big buns, and these Kaiser rolls were quite good. The 10-ounce patty fit perfectly; no small feat. The soft rolls had a nice crunchy crust on the top, lending a textural element that many burgers lack. The bottom half of the bun soaked up the beef juice like a sponge, but it was sturdy enough that it didn't lose structural integrity.
Toppings were standard, including three kinds of cheese on the Boulder cheeseburger: cheddar, American and Monterey Jack. The cheddar could have been a little sharper to counter the other smoother cheeses, but as a cheese lover I can't complain too much. What was disappointing was that the cheese was placed on top of the bacon so it didn't melt very well, let alone on top of the beef. The fried onions were slimy and mushy; skip those.
The steak fries that come with the burger were the typical frozen fries I've had elsewhere, but they're a nice change of pace from thinner fries and were well cooked so as not to be soggy.
A combination appetizer platter, called the Buckaroo, included some different options than what's normally in a giant mixed bag of fried stuff: jalapeño poppers, mozzarella sticks, fried eggplant, and calamari. The calamari was tender, and the poppers had a filling more like pimento cheese than cream cheese, an interesting variation.
If you're the kind of person who loves getting lost in Cabela's, this is a place you want to eat at. And if you just want a solid, charcoal-grilled burger, then this is a pretty good bet.