Milwaukee: Heartbreak and Disappointment at Charcoal Grill

April 11, 2018 – 12:17 pm

20110910-169856-charcoal-grill-buffalo-half.jpgWhen I walked into, everything was how I remembered it from my childhood: a big wood-fired oven and rotisserie, a burger fixin' bar for all your topping needs, and a woodsy decor complete with antler chandeliers and bird feeders outside the windows. The buffalo burger was still on the menu, and there was a note under the "Burgers" heading that said all burgers were ground in-house daily. I didn't remember that, but I probably wouldn't have paid attention to something like that over a decade ago. Perhaps I'd better ask whether the buffalo meat is also ground in-house. The server tells me it's not. Well, it's worth a shot anyway; it used to be so good...

...And that's where I made a huge mistake. Actually, walking in the restaurant at all was the first mistake, but I was still enamored by the memory of the bison burgers I used to eat here with my father when I was a kid and teen. At the time they seemed exotic, and they were delicious, as were the beef burgers. Now, all these years later, I wonder how the restaurant is still in business.


There's really nothing redeeming I can say about the buffalo burger. The biggest problem was the texture, like it had been frozen and thawed too many times. It was mushy and stringy, like someone had put the meat into a blender before forming the patty. The taste was just as bad: slightly freezer burnt with a disconcerting sweetness. It barely tasted like meat at all. I had ordered it medium rare since buffalo is much leaner than beef, and it was cooked past that, but honestly I don't think temperature mattered one bit in this case. The bun matched the weird squishy texture and deflated as soon as I bit into it. No number of runs to the fixin' bar can save this burger. It was the complete opposite of the burger I remembered.


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