Milwaukee: Smoked Brisket Burgers at Matty's in New Berlin
Matty's Bar and Grille
14460 W. College Avenue, New Berlin WI 53151 (map); 414-427-3838; mattysbar.com
Cooking Method: Broiled
Short Order: Smoked brisket is blended into the burgers for great flavor, but make sure to emphasize you don't want a well done burger
Want Fries With That? Skip the typical waffle fries in favor of the fresh pasta salad, or better yet, some homemade mozzarella sticks
Price: Smokehouse burger, $8.95, toppings, $.75-1.50; Mozz sticks, $6.95
Why is it that so many potentially great burgers succumb to bad preparation? Either the majority of restaurant goers prefer well-done burgers, or very few cooks actually know how to cook a burger to any temperature but "dry."
It's especially disappointing when the components of the burger have so much potential, as in the case of Matty's in New Berlin. They've just recently made their one-day-a-week-only burger available every day, and have even come up with a slew of interesting topping choices. Their burger of the day menu reads like a frozen custard flavor forecast: Every day of the month offers different toppings, from the Little Mexico to the Italian-inspired Al Pacino. Even the make-your-own burger topping choices are out of the ordinary and exciting, including specialty local cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, and mango salsa.
The only burger patty offered by Matty's is their smokehouse burger, which is "infused" with their smoked beef brisket. What I think that really means is that they grind some of their brisket into the ground beef (especially since it used to only be a special on Tuesday, the day after their brisket special). The ridiculous use of "infused" aside, the burger patties have an amazing flavor. Imagine taking a mild ground beef and mixing it with a smokey, fatty brisket. The taste is the rich brisket, the texture is a hamburger.
Unfortunately the two half-pound burgers were overcooked, even after making a point to tell the server I wanted medium. The response I got was, "They know how to cook the burgers, usually medium to medium-well." No, apparently they really don't. Such a disservice to great beef.
Toppings were quite good. The two specialty cheeses I tried were fantastic choices and came in copious amounts. The mango fire cheese started out rather sweet, but turned into a slow, gradual burn at the back of your tongue. The Pleasant Ridge Reserve is a more well known Gruyère-style Swiss cheese. It was smooth with just enough funk at the end, perfect for a burger.
The bacon is smoked in-house and a little bit sweet, but not to the point of being detrimental. The garlic aioli was more mild on the garlic flavor than I'm used to, but I think on a burger it works well that way, especially one with a smoked flavor. Some toppings didn't live up to the others, like the fried egg that was fried over-hard with no runny yolk to speak of, and the "caramelized" onions that were just barely cooked.
The bottom bun lost almost all structural integrity, mostly because both the aioli and the tomato (which was diced) were placed under the beef. Move the juicy ingredients to the top, please.
Burgers come with your choice of side, including waffle fries and a house-made pasta salad that changes based on what's available. I'd stick with the pasta salad, which had an abundance of fresh veggies. The fries are frozen, and while the little bit of seasoning was appreciated, they were undercooked. If neither of those sound very exciting, then just get the mozzarella sticks appetizer. They're huge, breaded in-house, and have lots of great little crunchy bits where the cheese oozes out. I'm not the biggest fan of fried cheese, but these are top-notch mozz sticks. And don't forget to save room for the cookie that comes along with your burger—it's like the treat at the bottom of your lunch box!
Matty's is great at marketing their burgers (including the sticker bearing the name of the cook on the wrapper), but that beef needs more respect. I implore you—and many other restaurants in MKE—to make sure that burgers are cooked to the temperature requested by the customers. This is a case of good burgers that really have the potential to be great with a little more care.
About the author: Lacey Muszynski is an editor, freelance writer and restaurant reviewer from Milwaukee, WI. When she's not burgerblogging on AHT, she might be updating her food blog, making fun of the Food Network, or wondering what her art degree has to do with all of this. Her idols growing up included Martin Yan, Chairman Kaga, and whoever was on Great Chefs, Great Cities that day.