On the Burger Trail: The Black & Bleu Burger at Jack's American Pub
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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.
Jack's American Pub
1323 E. Brady St.
This spacious pub on the Brady Street strip features a young, energetic atmosphere at night and a laid back vibe during the daytime hours. It's a great spot to catch sportsball games thanks to plentiful big screens for viewing, and it's a popular spot to pick up a free shuttle for games at Miller Park during the summer months.
The menu is much of what you'd expect from an American pub and features snacks like gigantic pretzels and wings along with sandwiches, wraps and salads. Among the choices are seven specialty burgers, a build-your-own option and two vegetarian options: a banh mi style Beyond Burger and a Southwest style black bean burger.
On this trip, I went with the Black and Bleu Burger, a half-pound cajun seasoned burger topped with caramelized onions, bacon, gorgonzola crumbles, and an apple coleslaw ($11.95).
The burger comes with your choice of sides: fries (with gun powder $1), potato salad, chips, cottage cheese, tater tots ($2), onion rings ($2), veggie of the day ($2), jalapeño mac and cheese ($3).
Just check out that side profile. You can see the well-shaped bun, the shiny, crisped edges of the burger topped with curled crisp bacon, browned onions and a good showing of blue cheese. It's a beauty. And it's definitely hunger-inducing.
The burger is served on a Sciortino's brioche roll, a choice that might be brioche by name but is far less sweet and rich than traditional French brioche. No matter here. It's a soft bakery style bun that's sturdy enough to get the job done and soft enough to support the burger without getting in the way. It was also notably toasted. It wasn't dark in terms of color, but a golden brown with enough of a distinctive crunch that it added texture to the burger.
Burgers at Jack's are cooked to order; however mine missed the mid-rare mark, registering visually as a solid medium. Despite that, it was tender and juicy with a notably caramelized exterior and slight crispness at the edges. It was also beefy and well-seasoned; primarily on the exterior where the cajun seasoning had adhered and blackened slightly.
I didn't enter into this burger transaction with many expectations one way or another. But I found myself impressed by the combination of toppings.
The bacon wasn't overly impressive in its flavor, though it brought just enough of the requisite saltiness and smokiness to do the job. What was impressive, however, is that it was perfectly cooked; it had been rendered slowly enough to impart a pleasant crispness without rendering it hard and brittle. The same could be said of the onions, which were deeply browned and slightly sweet.
Probably most notable was the balance brought to the table by the play between the sweet tart flavors of the apple slaw alongside the mild, but lingering flavor of the blue cheese. It was a really nice combination that might just make this burger worth a second try.
This burger wins on two levels. It's hefty enough to satisfy a hungry diner and thoughtful enough in its composition to please someone looking for a slightly more complex flavor profile. At just under $12 with fries, it's a solid value.
The Black & Bleu burger at Jack's American Pub is a nicely balanced burger with toppings that play well together.
Jack's American Pub is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.; the kitchen serves daily until midnight.
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