Mo's Irish Pub
142 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee WI 53203 (map); 414-272-0721; mosirishpub.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Good Irish-themed burgers and components, but they suffer from overcooking
Want Fries With That? Fries are thick and skin-on and make a great delivery vehicle for extra Killarney sauce
Price:Mo's Burger, $10.99; Mama O'Malley's Homestyle Burger, $5.99; Cheeseburger Shalaylee appetizer, $8.99
Since it's almost St. Patrick's Day, I figure it's time for an Irish-themed burger review. Out of the million or so Irish-themed pubs to pick from in Milwaukee (if anyone knows why there are so many, please let me know), this year I chose one that's been around for a while, Mo's Irish Pub.
Out of Mo's two locations, I chose to go to the downtown location because it has more of a gritty, lively pub atmosphere compared to the suburban location. Over the years I've had respectable meals at Mo's but hadn't yet tried the burgers. I wasn't too surprised, then, when the burgers were pretty good as well.
Since burgers aren't exactly Irish, the restaurant Irishes things up a little with their Mo's Burger by piling corned beef on their standard half-pound Angus beef patty. Due to the corned beef being chopped super finely, it almost looked like rare beef. I would have preferred a little more texture, but the flavor was spot-on, adding a salty punch to the burger.
A couple of slices of sharp Swiss held the mound of corned beef in place, and the bacon added a nice rich smokiness to the whole thing, even if it seemed a little unnecessary. It was topped with Mo's signature Killarney sauce—a tasty cross between homemade, pickle-studded Thousand Island and sriracha mayo—but there appeared to be hardly any on the burger, barely a teaspoon. The only bad thing about the sauce was that they charged me for ordering extra sauce on the side.
The bun was very good: not too light and with a little bit of shiny crust. It held up to all the toppings admirably well.
It was hard to discern the beef above all the flavorful toppings on the Mo's burger, but on Mama O'Malley's Homestyle Burger, it was front and center. Like the Mo's Burger, it was made with fresh meat, shaped into an irregular patty, and had a rich beefiness. Dark grill marks lent a slight crunch around the edges. Both burgers were ordered medium and were overcooked to varying degrees, but they did dribble a bit of juice with the first bites.
The burger was supposed to be topped with butter and pickle slices, but the pickles were forgotten and I had to ask for them. It was really a purist's burger: beef, bread, butter, and pickle. The butter helped keep the sandwich from being too dry and the pickles cut through the richness.
I couldn't come to Mo's and do a burger review without ordering the Cheeseburger Shalaylee appetizer. The idea of ground beef and processed cheese deep fried in eggroll form just didn't sound appetizing, but the real thing, even though it didn't look very appealing, was a lot better than I was expecting. The beef was coarsely ground and loosely packed, with not-too-much processed cheese holding it all together. The dipping sauce wasn't just ketchup either, thankfully. It was similar to chili sauce, but with more tang, and was great for cutting through the greasy rolls. I'd actually order them again, though I might have to follow them up with a salad.
You can't go wrong with the Irish specialties at Mo's, and if you're in the mood for a burger with an Irish flair, then this is your place. Fresh, hand formed patties make the burger, but emphasize the fact that you'd like your meat rare. Even if it comes out a bit dry, it's nothing a pint of Guinness can't fix.
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.