Friday, November 6, 2009

Tamarack II

Once again I am trying to catch up on my post. I visited the Tamarack II back in September. Once again I was going of an article that listed some burger places north of Madison WI. (see last post) Well this time I have my Brother with me. He has done a couple Burger Runs with me. The Tamarack II (I guess the original is in Portage WI.) is in Morrisonville WI. Frogtown U.S.A is it's nickname.

Going off the article we were there to try the Jumbo Burger with bacon and cheese. I order mine with Swiss, my Brother goes with American. The Tamarack grinds it meat daily and this burger will be a 6 ounce patty. The patty will be grill pressed and once done topped with cheese and a healthy amount of bacon. My Brother and I liked the burger a lot. It had a real peppery taste to it. I have come across places that use a lot of pepper in it's patty. The Post #67 in Lake Mills and Wedl's come to mind. They should be similar they get it from the same place! The burger at the Tamarack must be good. I met some guys there that eat at my place!! I called them traitors!! Next time they came into eat at my place they asked what a traitor like me is doing at the Tamarack II !!!

Spring Creek Tavern

Back in August I visited Spring Creek Tavern in Lodi WI. I got some information about the place in a local magazine that did a burger article on places North of Madison. I am not talking the North woods of Wisconsin. Places that are a quick 30 minute ride from Madison. Like most places I visit for a burger in Wisconsin this is a tavern. Tavern burgers usually get good word of mouth. Once again my girlfriend was with me, perfect time to go to the Spring Creek Tavern on a Monday. Two for one burger special on Monday. We walk in about 6:45 pm. The place was packed. Well I was there to try the Tavern Burger. This Burger is 80/20 ground chuck, "fresh never frozen." That phrase is getting old. Lets say a 80/20 blend of fresh ground chuck. The bun of this burger is baked daily across the street at Weber's Bakery. Spring Creek Tavern cooks it's burgers on a flat top grill. Once the Tavern Burger is done on the grill, it gets it's toppings. The burger is topped with cheddar cheese, sour cream and lettuce. Oh the burger is not finished yet, it gets a heaping pile of fried shoe string onions. In the picture that heaping pile to the left of my burger.... was on top of my burger!! This burger was a a mess!! shoe string onions falling off it. The sour cream and lettuce sliding all over the place. It was a good but I think I need to go back and try a "traditional" burger. The shoe strings and other toppings masked the burger. I still got two burgers for the price of one!!

Editors note: As I said I went to Spring Creek Tavern in August. I was doing some finishing touches on this post and came across this article Spring Creek Tavern. If you don't want to read it I will give you the short version. Spring Creek Tavern is closed. I guess I won't be going back to try another burger.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Time to catch up. No pun intended.

Been awhile since I posted but I have material. Lets go way back to the start of August. I was near Rockford Il for a Corvette Show at a Home Depot parking lot. Across from the the parking lot was a Steak n' Shake. I ate there last year but did not get a picture. Well of course I deleted my picture of the burger I ate at Steak n' Shake. What I had was a "Wisconsin Buttery Burger." I guess they could not call it a "Butter Burger" since Culver's already has the rights to that, I guess. Only Solly's has the ok to use the name Butter Burger along with Culver's I guess. Let me tell you something..... you could actually taste the butter on this burger from Steak n' Shake unlike the burger you get at Culver's. I posted about Culver's in June.

Jumped ahead to the end of September. I have been trying to get to the "Big Boys/Chains" to post about them. I have had good burgers and good times. I have bad burgers and left scratching my head also. I still don't know how Culver's does it. Their sales in frozen treats must carry the franchise. Off track sorry. My next franchise I visited was...Red Robin. Now they have all these gourmet burgers. Don't get me started on a burger covered in a" California Style Salad" Once again I took my girlfriend with me. This is her 4th burger trip I think. I am glad she helps me with my hobby. I always like someone with me. Get their opinion, insight. My brother goes with me from time to time also.This would be my first time at a Red Robin, my girlfriend had been there before. I knew it was a bad sign when she orders a chicken wrap not a burger!!! I go with one of the basic burgers (which was hard to find), a Bacon Cheese Burger. I did not want Avocado on my burger! I get it with Swiss and the basic toppings plus mayo, which I hardly ever do (pictured above.) The burger.... if I go again I will order the chicken wrap I think. It was missing something.... hard to put my thumb on it. I guess I was paying for the atmosphere, like the Wendy's commercial says.

Now that was a quick post on my "Chain" burger spots. I tend to do more Ma and Pa joints and Taverns. I promise you I will get them posted. I have four places I need to write about and they are not the "Chains" See I told you I had "research material."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

100 year old burger stand

Where to start with this one???? Lets start with just a name. Pete's Hamburgers. Pete's Hamburgers is located in Prairie Du Chien WI. I caught word of this burger stand from Jeff Stanely (Dotty's Dumpling) last November. The name he was not sure of. I would ask people now and then if they have heard of a burger stand in Prairie Du Chien. No luck. I figured I would just have to drive the 2 hours and ask around Prairie Du Chien. Then the Burger Gods looked down on me! Last week the Wisconsin State Journal had and article on Pete's, front page even! Now after that article I had people ask me if I saw it. I have people giving me leads and info all the time now, which I love! I would tell them "Yes, I saw it and have a copy." Now after researching a bit more I made plans for my burger trip. What intrigue me the most was the history of Pete's. Make sure you checkout Pete's website. It is full of history and photos!

On this trip I would have my girlfriend. This would be her 4th burger trip with me. Now our trip would be about 2 hours one way so I took the scenic route. I took Highway 60 all the way from Sauk City WI to Prairie Du Chien. This Highway follows the Wisconsin River all the way to were it meets the Mississippi. It was a beautiful ride and can't wait to take it when the leaves change color during Fall. I am getting off track.

A little insight on how the burgers are made at Pete's. They are simmered/poached in a shallow griddle. Yes the burgers are put on the griddle then water is added. The water is the secret ingredient!! (inside joke.) There are onions also cooking with the burgers. This griddle can do batches of 50-60 burgers(pictured above) in 12 minutes. Now Pete's is open only Friday-Sunday 11 am-8 pm and open only in the "Warmer Months" here in Wisconsin. So figure late May to the 3rd weekend in October. I don't know how many burgers they do in the weekend but they easily can go through 300 lbs of onions. Now think of how many burgers that can cover...You do the math!!

You can order on either side of the stand. We waited on one side with about 12-15 people. On the other side is about another 6-8 people. The reason we are waiting is a "Batch of Burger" are being prepared. OK time to pay attention on how Pete's serves it's burgers. Now remember there are serving windows on each side. The most common way to order a burger is "with." If you are not a burger lover that means with onions. A lady in front of me ordered a onions only, yes onions and bun that's it! OK picture this, the griddle faces the front of the stand(pictured above) The cook turns to his right and takes and order. He then takes a burger places it on a bun adds onions and hands it to a server behind him and to his right. That person will add your condiments (Ketchup, Yellow Mustard, Brown Mustard, no Cheese.) That person will also get your soda and chips if needed and take your cash. After the cook finish the order on his right he turns to the window on his left. Then the whole process in done over again. After that order is done he returns to his right, pretty simple. As we wait my girlfriend is talking with a woman and we get some information from her. She is with her family. Her sons are the 4th generation to enjoy Pete's burgers. She use to live in Prairie Du Chien but had move to Texas. When she visited her folks she made sure she got to Pete's. She now is back in Prairie Du Chien so she can all the burgers she wants. Her order 2 without 3 with and that onion sandwich! In front of that family is a elderly couple with there daughter. They are from Iowa. One important thing I learned is that the burgers are going to be HOT so let them cool a bit. My turn at the window. I order two "with." The cook takes our burgers places them on the bun covers it with onions. He then places it on wax paper and sides it to his server. My girlfriend gets "Ketchup" I go with the Brown Mustard. There is no real seating but I knew that so back to my car and I got out folding chairs. We then sat by my car and ate our burgers. Burger researchers always come prepared!!! The burger is 1/4 lb. and you knew that if you read the WSJ article. First bite..... tender hot and can taste the beef. It is different to what I am use to, griddle or char-broiled burgers. It does get messy though, the bun soaks up the juices and water on the burger. I enjoyed the burger, my girlfriend said it was OK. The reason I enjoyed it is because of the history of the place and the family that has run the stand for 100 years.

Pete's Hamburgers
118 W. Blackhawk Ave.
Prairie Du Chien WI

Friday, August 7, 2009

Solly's once again

It is hard to believe that I have not visited Solly's in more then a year. I have thought about going at times but for some reason I would not make the drive. Well I got there nice and early, 9:30 am. I was staying at a hotel just a mile away. I got there and the breakfast rush was done. I sat down and to my left a couple stools down was Glenn the owner. He was taking a break and having a coffee. He remembered me and we got talking about burgers and where I have gone. He filled me in that Andrew Zimmern had been there to film a show called Appetite for Life. It is a quick little video about Solly's. We also talked Culver's. He knows the owner and said the Franchise Consultants that help Culver's get started contacted him once. Glenn said no to having a Solly's Franchise. I am glad, Solly's is unique and I think you would lose something if you did"Cookie Cut Outs" of the place. Also learn that at times they have to cook the burger and ship it out to people that love them. A woman takes 20 Butter Burgers down to Chicago to her son and coworkers once a month. He also told me that they gave a guy burgers to take back to Colorado. I guess it made the whole plane smell like Burgers!! They have cooked them and flash froze them for some people. Best way to eat it is at Solly's though. We sat and chatted for awhile longer. I can't remember everything but it was fun just to chat. Back to the burger. I finally got somewhat good pics of the burger. I order a Butter Burger With, meaning steamed onions. The top picture you can see the butter on the right side on the burger, the second picture is a pool of butter on my plate. I let my girlfriend have the first bite. Butter started running down her wrist. "You knew that was going to happen." she said, "Yep." Now I had a burger she did breakfast. Let me tell you, I could eat a plate of the hash browns at Solly's. Yes the use the butter in that also. I wonder how I stay thin?!?!

If you are a burger nut, you must put Solly's on your list of "To Do."

Friday, July 31, 2009

Burger research with George Motz Part II

Once again I find myself going to go meet George Motz for some Burger Research. On this day we started in Lake Mills at the V.F.W Burger Stand. I have been there to eat but George has not. George shows up and we go right to work. George likes to order the burger a place sells the most. He is told what it was by Carol who is working the window. George orders a "Burger With." Which is a burger with fried onions, more liked steamed. I pass on a burger knowing it is going to be a long day of eating. Some of the staff ask if George is the guy they read about in the morning paper. Word got out that he was coming to the area. You can read the "Leak" here... Wisconsin State Journal. George finish his burger and we go inside the little burger joint to ask questions. This place is small and I am surprise the seven of us could move around. (5 volunteers working and the two of us) I won't go in to details of what we learn but I will give you the basics. You can read about my other visit here, VFW Post 67 Ok this is a fried Burger. No grill, no flat top, this burger is fried in Canola Oil. If you ask for cheese they put it on the burger when it is about to be wrapped in wax paper. This is so the heat from the burger melts the cheese. We order another burger to be a model. George gets some shots then we split the burger to share it. Now George wants to get a picture of the front. He had to stand in the road. So I step out to stop traffic. At one point a Semi-Truck was coming at us. Who said Burger Research is not dangerous!!! Pictured above is George at work. After som more pictures George goes inside to get even more info. I wait outside just people watching as the lunch rush has started. George gets the info that he needs and a T-shirt then we are off to Jefferson WI, quick 10 minute drive. Before we leave though George gives me an In-n-Out Burger T-shirt for my help.

If you know your Hamburger America Book going to Jefferson means we are stopping at Perterson's or Wedl's. We order our burgers and George is catching up with the boys in the stand. He gets a couple pictures of the burger then we go inside to talk to the new owner. Inside there are pictures from way back of the place. Once again George strikes out with getting a T-shirt they are out. Now off to Madison WI.

We are going to Madison to go have a burger at the Plaza. We are also meeting Doug Moe who writes for the Wisconsin State Journal. He is the one that wrote the article of George's visit and has written a couple columns on burgers in Madison. George was excited to visit the VFW Stand but he was looking forward to taking a bite out of a Plaza Burger. It has a Special Sauce that George wants to know what it is. If you get to Madison have a Plaza Burger! We order our Plaza Burgers and boy do they hit the spot. We talk to Dean the owner and he tells us that people bring in the Hamburger America Book for him to sign. People that are on road trips using the book as a guide to destinations. Heck I even have my book signed by Dean last year. Have you lost count of how many burgers we have had??? Next stop my Dotty's Dumplings for some deep fried cheese curds!!

We get to Dotty's and I tell George this is my hang out now. I probably visit there once a week now. We go inside and order the cheese curds. Our order comes but we can't even put a dent into the order we are so full from eating all day. George gets a to go box so he can take them home. If George wanted a Plaza Burger the cheese curds were a close second on his list to eat that day. George heads out but I stay at Dotty's. It is about 2 pm now, we started at about 10 am. I am full and tired so I sit at Dotty's talking with the staff while I have some beers. Well around 6 I am still there just talking and getting hungry. Yep I order and Cheeseburger and fries. So that day I had 3 1/2 burgers and some cheese curds... I would have to say it was a good day. Hopefully the VFW Hamburger Stand will make the book. I have learn from George that you can get some good quotes from people. Well I got one that day and it came from George. I have called the burger places in Lake Mills, Watertown and Jefferson a "Triangle" George has a better saying he calls it "The Burger Belt." If you think from Madison WI to Milwaukee/Glendale there are 6 burger places that are truly Hamburger America. That is about an 80 mile stretch from Madison to Milwaukee/Glendale. 4 of the places are in the book with 2 more possibly in the new edition. If you are looking for Hamburger America, Wisconsin is a good place to visit.

Next up research for me in the Chicago area once again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hooters Burger

Like I was going to put up a picture of the Burger from Hooters. Well a couple weekends ago I was in Rockford for a Corvette show. The show was at Hooters. About 4 of us from my Corvette Club went down to the show. As you can see the girls were out walking around the show. Picture is me with the ladies and my girl, the yellow Corvette. Ok back to the Burger. I order it medium rare. It came pretty much rare. I was so hungry that I did not care. I have the burger down quickly because the award presentation is happening. I actually liked the burger from this "Chain." It is no Five Guys but it was good, for some reason. I have had bad food from the Hooters that was, yes was in Madison.

For the past week I have been staying away from Burgers..... yeah me. Oh I have a good reason as you will soon find out!!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Celebrating Hamburger America, Motz style!

Well it is the July 4th weekend. What better way to celebrate then to grill out. On the Fourth I made Steaks and twice baked potatoes. On July 5th I was on a mission to grill my own burgers. I first went right to my local grocery store. I walked right passed the meat counter. I was there just to get buns. Next I go to my local butcher (Village Meat Market) but he is closed. They were open on the 4th so today was their off day. Well I know another place a quick 10 minute drive. I get to Jim's and the place is doing brisk business. I find what I am looking for ground Chuck. It says lean but I don't ask if it is 80/20. I get one pound and ask if it is ground twice, the gentlemen behind the counter says yes. I pay and I am on my way back home. Now I am planning on cooking on a gas grill. I am new to cooking on a gas grill but I am confident I will not make my burger a hockey puck. I was thinking of doing the Charcoal grill but the gas was faster. I take my ground beef and make into a ball, bigger then a golf ball, oops. The second patty was more of a golf ball size. I make a the patties with just the heel of my palm. I go out and throw them on the grill. No salt, no pepper. I use to season my patties but where I work we don't season our patties at all, we let the grill do that. 2 minutes, quarter turn, another 2 minutes and flip. Making grill marks and less flips the better. One more quarter turn and but the buns on the top rack to toast a bit. Put the buns on a plate and get the burgers on the bun. I go inside open up the fridge and take out........ NO not Ketchup! Mustard either. I grab my bottle of Chipotle Ranch!! Sure it is not the same as the sauce on a Motz Burger but it is close. Mmmmmmmm my own Motz Burger made at home. Most people would go to a fast food joint. With driving time to get beef, cook it I bet I put in 45 minutes. I could have gone the fast food way but this is more satisfying!! I plan on doing some other burgers in my kitchen, like the guberburger. I will save those for a day I need to cook inside. Today was a grilling day so I did. Can't find a burger joint..... just get some fresh ground beef and bring Hamburger America home folks.

Happy Birthday America!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Second Trip to Green Bay

Well I found myself in Green Bay WI the last weekend in June. As always I try to do Burger Research when I travel. I had two places I wanted to try, Kroll's East and Al's Hamburger Shop. Most people in Green Bay know about Kroll's but not as many know about Al's. I did the Kroll's West location last summer, The Great Burger Trip Day 2.

Kroll's East was est. in 1935 it is a Tavern/ restaurant. Here is a description from their menu: All of our burgers are made fresh on the premises from 100% Black Angus Beef; then char grilled to perfection over hot coals. Each of these mouth-watering sandwiches is topped with real Wisconsin butter (margarine on request) and served on a toasted (semel) hard roll (soft roll on request)

They have a large menu but I was there for the burgers. The staff seemed to be mostly High School kids. A young lad took my order. I ordered a Cheeseburger and fries. The "Everything On" is catsup, yes I said castsup, raw onion, pickles, butter and sharp American cheese. I hold the onion on my order. Glenn from Solly's told me to try this place last year but I did the West location not the original. I know some people from Green Bay, they also tell me the burgers are good here plus the chili. Kroll's always gets Best of Green Bay. While I wait, I take in the place. There is a horseshoe counter with about 12-13 stools. There are many booths, wooden no cushions. Here are some nice photos. I usually try to get a view of the cooking area but not today. There is a separate door outside that people go through to the pick-up window for carryouts. While I wait I see an order of about 8 burgers go out to the dining room. It takes about 10 minutes for my order, which is not long. I don't look for fast food, just good food. My Cheeseburger comes wrapped in wax paper that is it. My fries are in a paper basket. My order total, $7.30 with a beverage. The bun is toasted and my Cheeseburger is cut in half. I take it and the butter is oozing onto my wax paper. When I did the West location I could hardly taste the butter. There is a really charred taste to the burger. Knowing me I have the burger gone in seconds. The one thing I do next time is hold the "Catsup." They put so much on, it takes away from the butter. I do have to say Solly's is a better Butter Burger. Kroll's definitely is a family place. The place is big, a sign says limit 271. If you sit in a booth you push a button to call for service. I buy a shirt and head to my next location, Al's Hamburger Shop.

Al's Hamburger Shop, where do I start. This place is small, signs says limit 30 people. Another sign says est. 1934. Al's has a counter with 14 stools, one table and 4 booths. There is a sign by the menu it says, "No Whining When Dining" There is another sign that says, "This in not Burger King, you don't get it your way. You take it my way or you don't get a damn thing!" The booths were full when I arrived about noon. There was maybe 1/2 dozen stools open. The place felt packed or I was just scared haha. A regular is riding the waitress/cook, being a smart guy I just sit quietly and wait. I guy lights up a cigarette, I am not use to seeing that, Madison has had a smoking ban for awhile. As I sit I notice the stools are mismatched, some with legs some bolted down. I tell you they are not too comfy. I put my order in a Cheeseburger with fried onions. I look at the crowd since some have left. A family of 3, a mom, little boy and grandma in one booth now. At the counter are older men ranging from 50-70. I could not sit by the grill but I can see it where I was sitting. The grill is small!! maybe holds 16 patties?? An order of 3 burgers goes in right before me. I waited for 20 minutes for my burger. I was starting to get up set, then my burger arrived (pictured above) I take a bite. It was worth the wait. It is a thick burger, I think to thick to be cooking on a griddle that is why it took so long, plus it must be on a low setting. My onions are on the bottom bun if you can tell by the picture. I have to say Kroll's was good but I think I liked Al's better. Now the decor and atmosphere of Kroll's was better haha. Maybe that was because my waitress/cook and no front teeth, top or bottom!!! I love Burger research!!!

Kroll's East
1658 Main St.
Green Bay WI 54302

Al's Hamburger Shop
131 S Washington St.
Green Bay WI 54301

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another Chain, this time White Castle

Well a couple of weekends ago I was in Chicago for a Corvette Show. While I was there I was going to try to do some "Burger Research." I was thinking of trying Top Notch Beefburger it was about 5 miles from where I was staying. I changed my mind when I saw a White Castle a block away from my hotel. Perfect chance to do one of the "Chains" again. Yes I have never had a White Castle slider. There are zero, zip, none near me. So I order a sack for myself, which was 4 cheeseburgers, fries and a drink.

I find my table and dig in. The sliders did not wow me but I have them done in no time. I don't think I will stop at one again, I could see stopping at White Castle for a snack after a night at the bar though! Later on that night though I was not feeling that well, burp! Check White Castle off the list. I should have gone to Top Notch, oh well back in Chicago in August for another Corvette Show. This time I will make sure I get to Top Notch.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Well I said I start to do some of the "Chains" or "Big Boys." So here goes. Culver's started in Sauk City WI over 20 years ago. Now it is in every town and city in Wisconsin it seems, plus other states. I just go there for their frozen treats and chicken sandwich. I have not had a burger from there in 10+ years. So that should tell you something. I order a double Cheeseburger meal deal or whatever they call it, #1 lets say. I get my beverage, grab a paper and find my booth. My burger arrives a little too quick. I guess I am use to burger joints that cook it for you to order. Culver's says they use fresh beef but I wonder if they do the old cook it and throw it in a warmer. My first bite reminds me of something I can cook in my own frying pan at home. It is also suppose to be a butter burger.....HA. I think they take a little brush of that fake liquid butter and put it on the bun. I could not even taste it. I finish my meal and remember why I don't eat burgers at Culver's. Best part of my meal was the fries. I have to say that this burger was better then what I got served at Sonics. That is easy to do though.

Now I got word that Culver's got voted "Best Burger" in Madison for 09'. There had to be some voter fraud for that to happen. Yes Dotty Dumplings got knocked out of the top three.... I plan to visit the two other places to do some research, The Gold winner I know is not a great burger but to bring knowledge to you burger lovers.... I will make the sacrifice!

Like I said I go to Culver's for treats and their chicken sandwiches. Their prices are high so be ready to spend a $15-$20 real easy for two of you.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lake Mills V.F.W Post No. 67

Finally the Lake Mills WI V.F.W. is open!!! I learned about this spot from George Motz and did a run with him to the V.F.W. last November. It was closed when we visited but you can get caught up by clicking here..... Lake Mills V.F.W. The V.F.W. is open only on Fridays during the summer. Memorial Day to Labor Day I would think. They open at 10 am on Friday and close... " When they run out of patties." I was told.

I got there with my girlfriend close to 7 pm on. I told her this is her first burger run, Sonic does not count!!! We get in line, yes line. There is about 12 people in line, with another 4 waiting for their orders. I guy in front of me said "It is like this at times and there are times when there is no line." The Burgers are cheap! $1.75 for a Burger and $2 for a Cheeseburger. Toppings, all you can get on it is fried onion and boy can you smell it when the wind blows just right. They write your order on a Brown Paper Bag. I order 4 Cheeseburgers, Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. The cashier writes on the bag.. 4C and "P" "DP" Which means
4 Cheeseburgers, Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, pretty simple. I should have ordered 3C but thought Amy wanted 2 also, wrong. So I put down 3 Cheeseburgers. I would say they are about 1/4 lb. They have a t-shirt that says " Have a slider with us." The Burger is large so to me it is not a slider but it is greasy so it will "slide down." I will have to get a shirt the next time. I have a couple shirts from places I visited.

We take our order and go across the street to the Park. The grease is starting to show through the bag, good sign right. Now the first bite reminded me of Wedl's in Jefferson WI. It was really peppery. I put down the 3 Cheeseburgers no problem... ok the 3rd one I had to catch a second wind. I go back to the stand and wait to talk to the cashier to get some info. An order for 20 burgers had just gone in. I don't know how they fit 5 people into this place guys!!! Yes it is that small. I ask the cashier when they open and found out 10 am till they run out.

I plan to go back. For one I have to finish research with George there and second I plan to take my Corvette Club there. Yes it is a good burger and yes it is "Hamburger America."

Burgers lovers there is a Hamburger Triangle east of Madison WI. Lake Mills V.F.W, Wedl's in Jefferson and Zweig's in Watertown. All in a short 20 minute or less drive from each other. If you have the stomach for that many burgers and time try to do the "Wisconsin Burger Triangle!"


Well I said I would start to hit some of the "Fast Food Big Boys." My first stop Sonic. Sonic just opened in Middleton WI, burb' of Madison. I also heard an east side location is going to happen. East side for you out of towners means the "East side of Madison." I have seen the commercials for years but there was never one close to me... until now. I ordered a Cheeseburger (which is a double) and Tots. My girlfriend ordered a Bacon Cheeseburger. Now they have "Car Hops" on skates but no staff on skates this night. They actually are looking for "Car Hops" that can skate!!

Our order arrives..... wrong! Two Cheeseburgers. No Bacon on any of them. We send one back and get one with Bacon. I have heard they screw up a lot at this location, so it was expected. It was not that good but I did not think it would be. One thing though they put shredded lettuce on a burger your eating in the car. I was picking that off myself a lot. I asked my girlfriend if she do Sonic again. She said " Only for the treats." Enough said.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Food Network and the State of Wisconsin

I caught word that the Food Network was doing a "Best of/Most Interesting Burger in Wisconsin" for it's June/July issue. Actually every State. Here is a link so you don't have to go waste money on a magazine. 50 States 50 Burgers. Of course here I will be talking about the burger picked as Wisconsin's "Best/Most Interesting."

Let me start off my saying that Food Network contacted Doug Moe, writer for the Wisconsin State Journal. George Motz has used him as a source, as have I. Well they could not use Doug because he was not a "Food Critic." Are we not all critics of food! They wanted to be consistent across the country with their sources so they use food editors and critics. Here is Doug Moe's article, Brat Burger

The Burger chosen for Wisconsin was from the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. The Burger is called, The Great Dane's Brat & Bacon Pretzel Burger. That's a mouth full and so is the Burger. It is interesting. Here is what is printed in the menu:

A one-third pound U.S.D.A. choice ground beef patty and a one-quarter pound bratwurst patty grilled with caramelized onions and topped with applewood smoked bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, lettuce, pickles and tomato. Served on a pretzel roll with a side of Peck's Pilsner mustard. $9.75

The pretzel roll was the best part of this Burger.....Burger, it was a Monster. Now in Wisconsin Bratwurst or "Brat" for short, should look like a sausage link...NOT A PATTY. We just had Brat Fest over the holiday weekend in Madison WI. They did not serve Brat Patties. I was thinking this Brat Burger would have a Traditional Brat spilt lengthwise and put on top of a Burger. We use to have something like that where I work. We called it a Turtle, because the Brat/Burger look like a Turtle... with the bun the Brat stuck out a little and look like a Turtle poking its head out. Sorry side tracked.

I order it and get some fries, you get a choice of sides. I order my Burger, medium.
Well my Burger comes and it is huge!! I open my mouth as wide as I can and try to take a bite. The first bite mostly pretzel. Everything is starting to slide around and making it hard to eat. Let me tell you this, by looking at the patties it was hard to tell which was which. They looked a lot alike. Which is bad. I had no pink in the burger patty oh wait that is the brat patty. The burger patty has no pink either. You want to take a bite to get all the flavors to blend together with the burger but it is hard. I don't even remember tasting the bacon. I remember seeing it though. Well I finish the beast, the Bartender ask "How it was? I wanted to say "I can name you 10 Burgers off the top of my head that are better then that." All I said was "Good." That was a stretch.

This is one Burger I will not have again and will tell people not to have. This Burger just did not work well. Too much of this and too little of that. What this and that is I don't know. Everything did not blend well as I said. All I can say is the Pretzel Roll was the best part of the sandwich, I said that before didn't I. Maybe to get a point across.

Have you Burger lovers notice a scary trend??? Gourmet Burgers, Non-Traditional Burgers. Look at some of the national chains like Red Robin etc.... What is happening??? What happen to ordering a juicy Bacon Cheeseburger or a juicy hot Hamburger made right in front of you!!! Some chains have it right, like Five Guys. If you want to experience Hamburger America folks... you got to go to the Ma and Pa Joints!!!

Time to get on my soapbox, oh wait I am already!

Now here is a little word to the Food Network. Leave your little office in N.Y. City and go out in the real world. Get out there and try some Ma and Pa Burger Joints. They usually make the best Burgers and are hell lot cheaper then the Build a Monster Burgers. Don't phone it in or email it either Food Network. I am sure some of the places listed in the 50 are great Burgers. They may even be Ma and Pa Joints but I doubt you even had one bite of them. I love going out to research Burgers. Sure I stay regional but hey George Motz travels this nation why can't you. On runs I meet nice people. I hear great stories. I take family and friends with me on Burger runs and they love it also. So next time you do a list Food Network try leaving your own zip code! You took a swing and missed big time for the State of Wisconsin best/most interesting Burger.

Sorry I had to do that. OK I will get off my soapbox now.

I have decided to try some research at some of the chains/fast food. I have done Five Guys and Culver's is big here. Don't worry I will still be doing the Ma and Pa Joints. Actually doing a run this weekend, end of May. I just have to see why a trend towards chains/fast food?? It may be fast but is it good?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I like burgers but WOW

I like burgers but this is too much. Heart Attack Grill in Tempe AZ. I get burger related stuff sent to me and I thought I share it with you Burger Lovers. I have not done any research on Burgers lately but don't worry, I will be posting some Burger Joints I have visited soon.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Twin Cities Burger Trip Stop #4

After eating at the Nook, I was off to the Band Box, downtown Minneapolis. I hop into my car, type in the address for my GPS and I am off. I miss my turned so the GPS takes me on a different route. I am sure glad I had a GPS on this trip. Every trip actually. I get to where I want to go but I don't see a sign. I drive a bit further down the block and find the Band Box. I park around the corner and go inside. This is your typical diner from way back. The Band Box is the oldest diner still in operation in Minneapolis. If my memory is correct I think it open in 1932 or is it 38'? There is just one table full, me and 3 others at the counter. The man to my right is getting an omelet.... It is huge!!! I order a hamburger that is it and a coke. Now this patty is frozen but George told me to check it out anyway. I get my burger and it is hot! Now the Burger was good, I should have gone with cheese, maybe being fresh would help also but the Band Box is Hamburger America. It is what it was like 60+ years ago. You would go to a diner or Hamburger shack, get a Burger cheap, quick by people you knew. Nowadays it is Fast Food joints with commercials and gimmicks. That is why I like to go on Burger Hunts, find a Ma and Pa joint and enjoy their Burger.

Now each Burger experience is different for me. Maybe the cook was off that day or staff. I pointed out that I liked the 5-8 Club Lucy better then Matt's Bar. The thing is Matt's has more character as a place then The 5-8 Club. I am not out to find the best Burger. I point out that I enjoyed it, it was great or it was sub par. As I posted earlier, people ask me what is the best Burger I have had.... My answer changes each time. The Burger is part of it, what else I enjoy is the atmosphere and people I meet.

Now after that Burger I go back to my hotel room to rest. I then head out to The Wienery. I saw it on the Food Network. I was about to walk in when I changed my mind. I had Burger overload, so I head back to my hotel. I actually did not eat a Burger till the following Thursday, that is 5 days without a burger, which is odd for me!

Overall a great time in the Twin Cities. I have to get back there, I learned about some new places I have to try.......Another road trip to the Twin Cities, Yes!!!

Band Box Diner
729 S. 10th St.
Minneapolis MN

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Twin Cities Burger Trip Stop #3

Stop #3 was Saturday morning March 14th. After filling up on Burgers on Friday surprising I was ready for a Burger. I grab my GPS and headed to Caspers & Runyon's Nook, The Nook as it is known. I got there just a few minutes after 11 am. There were already 6-8 tables full. I sat at the corner of the bar, which seats 10-11 people. A regular takes a seat a few stools down and asks Nicole, the bartender it they opened early? "Nope, just everyone came at once." Good sign right!!! They open at 11 and it is busy already. The grill area is tiny and 3 guys are working the grill area!! How they do it I don't know. I mean small maybe 8 x 10 area!?!? I mean you have to side-step, shuffle through the area. It is like the guys are taking small dance steps to move around. Now it is 11:15 and there is a waiting list to be seated. There is a fake water spill on the bar, I fall for it!!! I ask for a bar towel, the bartender just smiles.

The jukebox is playing anything from Classic Rock to Stevie Wonder. When she has a chance I talk to Nicole and ask what to order. She likes the Paul Molitor, which is a Lucy stuffed with Pepper Jack Cheese. I am tempted but I want to stay simple. So I order the Nookie Lucy (American Cheese) and fried onions, no fries went with coleslaw. I have other Burger stops today. By this time 10-12 people are standing in the corner and by the door waiting for tables to open, this place is packed!!

I get my order, Nicole tells me to wait a bit before I start. After a few minutes I take a bite. The cheese starts oozing out the Burger. The Burger is medium and is the way it comes unless order different, which is good. I don't like well done, which Matt's Bar does. The 3 ladies to my left are waiting for a table and are eyeing my Burger. I wave my hand over my Burger to waft the aroma towards them. The lady seated right next to me goes "Ohh that smells good!" " I can smell the onions." I have to say this is one juicy Burger and not just because of the cheese!

I make small talk with Dave, who is seated to my right. Is every guy named Dave here?!?! Once again you get little bits of information of what to try and where to go. He like me is a rookie at the Nook. He tells me to try The Gopher Bar...."If I am not Burgered out I will try." I tell him.

Overall a great place. I still cannot believe how busy it was, right away. It is a small place but still it filled up fast. So get there early if you can. Once again a neighborhood bar that makes a great burger. The place is filled with nick-knacks and beer signage. I wish I took a menu, they had some history of the place on it. My opinion is The Nook makes a better Lucy then Matt's Bar. Matt's is way to done for me. I would say go to The Nook and The 5-8 Club if your looking for a Lucy.

Next stop, The Band Box which was suggested to me by George.

The Nook
492 Hamline Ave. S
St. Paul Mn 55116

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Twin Cities Burger Trip Stop #2

Second stop March 13th a Friday is The 5-8 Club. After leaving Matt's Bar I head South on Cedar Ave. to The 5-8 Club. It is only a 2 mile drive, quick right, not during rush hour!! I get there and the parking lot is full with overflow into the street. I park across the street at a church and enter through the back. Think Supper Club when you think 5-8. Where you enter is the "sit down area" and it is full, 5 pm and packed!!! Well I am not sitting here, off to the bar. I go to the bar and thankfully I get a seat, the last one at the bar. The small bar tables are also full. I get my beer and start small talk to the guy on my right, Nick is his name. We talk a bit of NCAA Hoops, then burgers. I tell why I am here and that I just was at Matt's Bar. I also tell him I plan on going to The Nook. He tells me that is a good place and that he goes there a lot. The guy on my left hears our conversation, his name is Dave and he joins in on the burger talk. Dave tells me that "Man vs. Food" filmed here recently (The show is on the Travel Channel) and that he got interviewed while they filmed. Now I have to DVR the show, March 25th I think, and see how he did.

After some more Burger talk I buy a round of beers for the 3 of us. Lets say Nick drank his without a thank you, talked with his friends and left. No thank you or even offer to buy a round, beer. I don't like Nick.... Dave I like!!! We chatted some more and he bought me a beer as a Thank You. He did not have to, a Thank You would have been enough. While we chat the waitstaff is thinking of what to write in my Hamburger America book. Bobbie, my bartender is a blast!!! She is a smart ass that will dish it out but will take it also (Love ya Bobbie!)

By this time I am hungry and Dave is also. I look at the menu, at The 5-8 Club you can stuff your Burger with different cheeses. Matt's is American Cheese only. I am thinking of trying Swiss Cheese. I check to see what Dave likes to order....Swiss...good! So I order a Juicy Lucy with Swiss. I also can order to my liking, not like Matt's. I order it Medium Rare and fried onions. As a side I get JOJO's. (Pictured is my Lucy and JOJO's) Dave usually gets a Lucy but not tonight. He goes with a California Cheeseburger, which is lettuce, tomato, mayo and Swiss as a cheese.

My order takes longer so Dave gets his first. Not long after though I get my order. As you can see my Lucy has a toothpick in it with a colored top. That tells the cook, staff what kind of cheese is inside. I start on my JOJO's to let my Lucy cool. Let's say the JOJO's could feed 2-3 people easily! Now it is time for the Lucy. I take a bite..... OH MY was it good!!! Cook to order, medium rare, so some pink. Not like Matt's a Hockey Puck... or well done. The 5-8 Club's Lucy was good, moist and messy!!! Bobbie asks how it was?? I say "Great, better then Matt's!" There I said it. I get so full I have a hard time finishing my JOJO's. Burger coma sets in, yep sleepy. I get a shirt from Bobbie and she and Lisa sign my book. I tell you what they wrote but that is for Dave and I to know! My meal was cheap, 5 beers (Nick you owe me one!) a Juicy Lucy and JOJO's just over $20 but my time there was priceless.

A big thank you to Dave and Bobbie for a great time I had sitting at the bar at The 5-8 Club. If you missed it I said the Juicy Lucy is better at The 5-8 then Matt's got it!!

The 5-8 Club
5800 Cedar Ave. South
Minneapolis MN 55417

Next stop... The Nook

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Twin Cities Burger Trip Stop #1

March 13th 2009 My first stop Matt's Bar, Minneapolis. I get there about 4 pm. I have my Hamburger America book and the bartender asks where I am from. I tell her "I am from Madison WI (Waunakee actually which is a burb' of Madison.) I told her I was up in the Twin Cities for the weekend doing Burger research. Gigi, the bartenders name, asks if i do Burger research every weekend. "No" I say. "I had some free time and wanted to visit the Twin Cities for some Burgers." " So it is a hobby then?" she goes. "Yes you could call it that." I say with a laugh.

I order and Jucy Lucy and a beer...............minutes Jucy Lucy arrives. I ask Pauly the cook, "How long should I wait?" "As long as you want but take little bites to start." He tells me. I guess I followed the directions correct, I did not burn my mouth on the hot cheese!!! The bun is good and the cheese oozing out is something special. Yes I make a mess, the cheese pools on my wax paper. The cheese pooling reminds me of Solly's Butter Burger and the way the butter drips and pools on the plate. I use my Burger to wipe up the cheese before it hardens. That is all I ate at Matt's, I had to save room for another place that night.

The Burger takes longer to cook then normal, about 5-6 minutes per side. Sure the Burger is well done but the little surprise inside is worth it. It is so runny it is almost like melted butter. It got busy when I got my Burger. I would say about 5 booths were full and a table in a 20-25 minute time. Gigi told me that by 6 pm there may be a line out the door. A good sign right!! Paul gives phone orders about 15 minutes to pick up. That is a good time when there are 14-16 Burgers in the griddle (Pictured, wish it was better.) They must have served 16-18 people in a half hour not counting carry-outs.

Once again a neighborhood bar where they know your name....sounds like some lyrics to a sitcom right! Again the last few minutes I am at a place I get some good quotes/info. A man comes up to the bar to pay for his family's meal. He tells Gigi that his son (about 8 yrs old) told him that was the best burger he ever had. He told his Dad this in the bathroom!!!! The wife of the man sees my Hamburger America book and we chat a bit about what I am doing. They ask what is the best burger I have had. Now I hate that question but I answer it. I tell them "Bud's Bar in Sedalia CO and Solly's in Glendale WI." I swear I answer it different each time haha. After some more small talk I purchase some T-shirts from Matt's as a little reminder of the place stuck in the 50's. I also get my book signed by Gigi and Pauly. I have a nice collection of signatures in the book now!! If you like a well done Burger, this Burger is for you, so go have a Jucy Lucy and check out the decor at Matt's Bar.

Matt's Bar
3800 Cedar Ave. South
Minneapolis MN 55407

Next Stop #2 The 5-8 Club.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Five Guys with my Brother.

My brother has gone with me on a couple burger trips around the area. I also take him to places I liked. This time I took him to Five Guys. He loved the burger!! I told him I never take him to a place with a bad burger. He had the Cheeseburger with Fried Onions, while I did the Bacon Cheeseburger and we split a larger Fry. While I was there I heard a cook say that another one would be opening in the area. Watch out Mickey D's here comes Five Guys!!

My Burger

So how did I come up with the title Waun-a-Burger, then have a Burger!! Well there is a burger named The Waun-a-Burger. I work at bowling center and that is one of our burgers. The bowling center name, The Waun-a-Bowl. A few business names in Waunakee start with Wauna. What is a Waun-a-Burger?? Well pictured is a 1/2 lb. burger, you also can get a 1/3lb. The 1/3 lb comes on a toasted small squishy bun, where the 1/2 lb comes on a par baked roll or French Round (got me?? but it is good.) We tried to use Brioche once for the 1/2 lb. and people hated the change so we went back to this "Big Bun". The patty is fresh, never frozen. It is a char-broiled burger, that's right. In my travels I notice using the griddle is more common. The Waun-a-Burger comes with two cheeses, that is American and "white" American. We call the white, Swiss. Why I don't know. Also on the burger is a slice of deli ham, which is cooked on the griddle. I use a deli slicer to slice ham myself, thank god I have not lost a finger yet!!! On the side of the Waun-a-Burger you get lettuce, tomato and pickles. What makes it extra good is a side of Ranch. I have been using Chipotle Ranch.....yummmmm. In the picture you will see a large order of fries with the Chipotle Ranch for dipping. That's my house burger and thanks to Matt for making it for me. The Burgers at the Waun-a-bowl are the best Burgers in Waunakee WI. If you are in Waunakee, stop in at the Waun-a-bowl, ask for Todd and we can talk burgers and maybe Matt will be on the grill that day!

Little side note, another Burger Trip coming up.... This time the Twin Cities!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Burger road trip

Around Thanksgiving I was at Dotty's Dumpling. There I ran into owner Jeff Stanely. I actually go there every few weeks now. I know most of the wait staff by name, is that good or bad!?!? I was talking burgers with Jeff and he gave me a place to try. Paul's Tavern in Dubuque IA. Now I have gone on a one day burger run before that is an hour drive, this would be about an hour and a half plus drive. This will be about 195 round trip. I have been trying to get there for the past two months but weather or something else came up. Finally I had a nice day for the drive from Madison WI to Dubuque.

I get to Paul's about 12:30 pm. Be ready when you walk in! There are wildlife trophies everywhere.
All the wildlife trophies are Paul's. Paul's Tavern has about 4 booths and about 16 stools. I take a seat at the bar, I could not get a seat close to the cook. I look up and there is a Polar Bear staring at me. There is about 12 of us at the bar with people coming in and going out. I get a soda and tell the bartender I will order in a bit. What I want to do is just sit and take in what is going on. Little did I know that I will get a lot of info talking with the staff. I think I learned what to ask when I was on a burger research with George.

Now the oven/broiler was made by Norge. I was told it was called a Broilator. I search the web and found Norge but not the broilator stove. I did find an ad though, Norge. When you open the door, the pan slides out towards the cook. The burgers are cooked on both sides by a flame, so no flipping. The burger is fresh and made by hand daily. It is a 90/10 blend and I was told it is about 1/4 lb. The burger is served on a toasted white squishy bun (pictured are my burgers and bun.) They will cook to order and the toppings are cheese, tomato, onion if you want. The Broilator can hold up to 8 burgers at a time. This Norge Broilator was made in 1932 and was new to Paul's in 1948. The original owner Paul is 82 and now his brother Tom has own the place for 18 yrs. Dave another brother works there also and who gave me most of the information about the burger and Paul's. I was told most of the staff is family by a regular.

My burger was HOT, I ordered a Hamburger and a Cheeseburger. No toppings just some yellow mustard. I liked the Cheeseburger best. The toasted white squishy bun was a nice touch. It was not lightly toasted this was done. The price is cheap also, 2 burgers, 2 sodas and a beer under $10.

This place is unique and some people may call it a dive. To me it is a it is a local bar that has it regulars and has not changed in a long time. Nothing fancy here, just a place people go to talk, drink and have a burger. Saturdays are the busiest day for burgers. The day before Thanksgiving and Christmas they offer free turkey and dressing. They serve more burgers that day then they serve the turkey and dressing. Could it be because the next day people will be having it for dinner, I doubt that. Who would pass up a free meal and order burgers instead? Dumb question, I would! What I will remember about Paul's besides the animals mounted on the wall is the way my burgers where cooked. Hopefully I can find some more info on the Norge Broilator. As I am getting ready to leave the jukebox starts to get played. I better get going before one of the regulars grabs me for a dance, I think to myself. I shake hands with Dave and tell him I will be back. An hour and a half trip seems short when you have a good time.

Paul's Tavern
176 Locust St. Dubuque

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Harmony Bar & Grill

This event happen on January 17th 2009.

Took my seat close to the griddle as I could. I usually try to do this when I visit places. I do this because I get to watch and second I can talk to the cook or waitstaff. To me it is another Wisconsin Tavern. The decor is great! Once again look at the ceiling, the decorative molding, it is like the Main Depot.
Harmony is also a great place to hear Jazz.

Now they sell a lot of Walnut Burgers.... which is a veggie burger. No go for me!! I order a Cheeseburger and fries. The burger is a 1/3 lb. fresh patty. Watching it cook on the griddle, it seemed bigger then a 1/3 lb. The griddle must be on a low setting, it seemed the burgers were on it along time. I am talking 5 minute plus a side it seemed.

The Cheeseburger arrives...I am starving, no breakfast. The Cheeseburger comes on what I call a kaiser bun. It is not a hard roll like you would think but a lot of bun. I am thinking too much for this burger....maybe a 1/2 lb. burger but not a smaller one. Like I said it was on the griddle along time... That being said it is a flavorful, beefy burger. Not dried out and not the juiciest burger either. The burger hit the spot though.

Overall the Harmony is a people's place, neighborhood bar. Blue Collar, hardworking people mixed with the "Professionals." It is a place people got to relax and unwind. I know I will be back. Maybe next time I will try a Walnut Burger....HA HA!!!

Hamburger America Gear

Well time to catch up with things. Been awhile since I put a post up. Have to flash back to Christmas. My family knows I am a burger nut and they even encourage it. Heck my brother and Dad have gone on a few burger hunts with me. Pictured is some clothes I got for Christmas. That is a Hamburger America T-shirts, notebook and apron. I guess they are buttering me up so I take them on more burger hunts.