On the Burger Trail: The Tuesday night burger at Goodkind
In this series, we'll be hiking the burger trail to find the latest, greatest and most delicious burgers in Milwaukee. Click here for an explanation of the criteria used to rate each burger. Where have we been? Check out the complete catalog of burger reviews here.
2457 S. Wentworth Ave.
This charming laid back bar has one of the best vibes in the city. Combine that with inventive cocktails, great beer and wine lists, and a friendly staff, and you've got a combination that's a winner every single time.
Of course, once you consider the menu, it gets even better. If you're in a snacking mood, you can count on staples like Champagne-battered oyster mushrooms, crisp calamari and a great Caesar salad. There's also spicy crab bucatini (a personal favorite), a handful of dishes made on the restaurant's rotisserie and plenty of seasonal options.
You can also count on specials like half-price wine night on Mondays and Tuesday night burgers. I've been a fan of Goodkind's Tuesday night burgers since their inception, eating them as my schedule will accommodate (and usually on a week when I'm not eating another burger elsewhere).
Toppings vary every week – and I've never seen a repeat – but you'll find combinations like Italian green peppers, lobster mushrooms, onions and five-cheese fondue or mulberry barbecue sauce, smoked farmer's cheese, braised greens and fried onions. And if you're not the dice-rolling type, you can always get a preview of the burger on Instagram before you visit.
On my most recent visit, the Tuesday night burger special featured a half-pound patty of Carlisle beef topped with heirloom tomato, sweet onion, quick pickle relish, yellow mustard, Pipparra peppers and celery seed ($12 or $15 with the featured craft brew, Untitled Art Pinot Gris IPA). And while Goodkind was adamant for a good long time about not serving french fries, they've also put those on the menu; you can get a nice helping for $5.
Sometimes you look at a burger and you can just tell it's going to be delicious. You might even get a little bit of a giddy feeling thinking about how all the flavors will come together. This was one of those burgers. And it was beautiful. The bun was crisply toasted and tipped to the side, revealing a burger patty piled high with red tomato, green relish and peppers and a peek of yellow mustard.
Seeded brioche is a pretty safe bet for a burger. It's soft and sweet and pretty absorbent, so it provides good support for a juicy burger. In this case, its sweetness was a nice foil for the toppings, which ranged from pickled to picante. And it was beautifully toasted, enough so that the browned bun added its own layer of toasty flavor to the mix.
Flavor, flavor, flavor. You get that when you source beef well. In this case, the beef comes from the Carlisle Family Farm in Sparta (owned by Ardent Chef Justin Carlisle's family). You also get that when you treat the ground meat right. In this burger's case, that encompassed a combination of factors. The beef itself was well seasoned, impeccably tender and beautifully flavored. It was also amazingly prepared. The caramelized exterior came complete with ultra crisp craggy edges and the sort of charred bits you typically only find on a smash burger. And yet, it was a half-pound patty that was served perfectly mid-rare. I was surprised and delighted. And I may have found my new favorite "style" of burger.
I'm a big fan of basic burgers. Give me some American cheese, onions and a great bun, and I'm pretty happy. And I find myself somewhat skeptical when I see a laundry list of ingredients on a burger; more isn't always better.
In this case, I chuckled when I read through the list of toppings, wondering if there was any other spot where you could order up a burger "dragged through the garden." But I stopped laughing after taking my first bite. If the combination is great on a hot dog, it might be even better on a burger. And it's worlds better on a burger when the ingredients are this fresh.
The tomato tasted sweet and fresh from the garden; the onions were crisp and juicy. The picante Pipparra offered a nice subtle jolt of spice and vinegar, set off nicely against the sweetness of the fresh-tasting relish. And yeah, a pop of mustard was nice too. Maybe more surprising was the fact that I didn't even miss the cheese.
One of the great things about Goodkind is that its burger toppings – while they might sometimes be unusual – are always thoughtful.
There's no doubt in my mind that this burger is worth $12. In fact, when you consider the true cost of food, I'm tempted to call it a steal. The beef was fantastic, the ingredients were on point and I left a very happy diner. Even better, for $15 I got a beer alongside.
I got nothin' to say except go and eat one of these burgers.
Goodkind is open seven days a week from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. with dinner service from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
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