Mason Street Grill
425 East Mason Street, Milwaukee WI 53202 (map); 414.298.3131; masonstreetgrill.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order:Sundays are burger night in the lounge when you can choose from four of the best and least talked about burgers in the city
Want Fries With That? Thin cut fries are super crunchy, but the massive homemade onion rings are where it's at
Price: Mason Street Patty Melt, the Ultimate Burger, and Sausalito Turkey Burger w/fries and local draft beer, $11.95
I've been to Mason Street Grill a number of times over the last few years, mostly for special occasions, and I've never had a disappointing meal. It was first on my radar because the chef, Mark Weber, had been the chef at one of my favorite seafood restaurants in the area, Watermark, which had closed many years ago due to financial reasons. Not surprisingly, Mason Street Grill's seafood and steaks are great. But I found out that so are the burgers.
Sunday night is Wisconsin Burgers and Beer night in the lounge and bar area of the restaurant. There's a selection of four different burgers, including one turkey burger. As an added bonus, you also get your choice of a local tap beer with your burger. For $11.95, it's hard to go wrong with this deal.
Since Thanksgiving's almost here, I got in the spirit of things by ordering the Sausalito Turkey Burger topped with avocado, tomato, and arugula. As the first turkey burger I've reviewed, it has set the bar incredibly high. You always hear about turkey burgers being bland and dry, but this was seasoned heavily, almost like a turkey sausage. Fresh sage and thyme were prominent, making it Thanksgiving-like without the typical cranberry sauce. It wasn't as moist as the beef burgers, but I wouldn't call it dry, either. If you need something saucy, the sweet, tart yogurt sauce with fresh herbs on the side was fantastic. The creaminess of the avocado also helped with any dryness. There was supposed to be bacon according to the menu's description, but it was omitted, and honestly I didn't even realize it was missing because the flavors were so bold. I wasn't expecting to like a turkey burger as much as I did.
The beef burgers are made with ground hanger steak. The cut's flavor is fantastic—it has a bold beefiness you'd expect from a steakhouse burger. It's not the most tender cut, however, so be sure to order no warmer than medium. Even cooked medium, the more well done edges were slightly chewy. The char from the grill was heavy, but not overwhelming.
The beef's juiciness was apparent in the eight-ounce patty of the Ultimate Burger, but the two smaller five-ounce patties of the Mason Street Patty Melt were slightly drier. Overall it was an excellent patty melt though, with really crisp marble rye, a layer of smoked provolone, and two comically enormous, fresh onion rings. While the two patties and giant rings made this a bit difficult to eat, they also helped make it one of the best patty melts I've ever had. The Caribbean Island sauce on the side definitely had a good helping of Sriracha, livening up the typical Thousand Island dressing.
The Ultimate Burger came with grilled Cajun sausage under the beef patty. The lightly smoked, mildly spicy sausage was sliced on the bias, making the burger easier to eat. The bacon could have been crisper, but otherwise it was full of smoky flavor. Wisconsin cheddar cheese wasn't a slice, but more like two ample blocks of cheese that had just melted enough. Cabbage slaw brought a little freshness to the burger, with a lightly creamy, tangy dressing. As someone who isn't a fan of pickle relish in general, I found the jalapeño relish a bit of a surprise, but since it was more jalapeño than pickle, it packed a punch without the dull, overcooked quality of bottled relish.
Besides the beer, burgers on Sunday nights also come with a cone of fries. They're super crisp and are great for dipping in the various sauces that come with the burgers, but I think thicker fries would have gone better with these hefty burgers.
If you want a burger any other night of the week (or for lunch), there is a burger on their regular menu, topped with Muenster, honey glazed onions, and house burger relish, as well as a smaller five-ounce burger on their regular lounge menu. Any of these seem like they'd be great choices, and I think Mason Street Grill has some of the best undiscovered burgers in Milwaukee.