Chow Down In Milwaukee

Restaurant Reviews

Quality Dining in Just Two Words

It had been years since I had visited Grand Avenue Mall in downtown Milwaukee. To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of driving and parking in that location. Add to that for the last several years there has not been much to offer at that location. If you have not heard, that has changed. There has been a revival at the mall and it is definitely worth checking out. This revival is in no small part due to the driven and loving couple of Kurt and Katie Fogle. They make up a tasty corner of what is now known as the 3rd St. Market Hall. It is a location that can solve all of your culinary desires from start to finish.

Kurt Fogle owns and operates Dairyland. On the website they describe themselves as “Proudly serving old-fashioned frozen custard and hamburgers from the heart of America’s Dairyland with the genuine quality our community deserves.” This may be a very accurate description of what they do at Dairyland, but it is far from a complete one. My beautiful Margie, my wonderful mother and I paid a visit. We not only sampled some of the amazing items served here but were able to sit down with Kurt and hear the backstory and what makes Dairyland and Mid-Way Bakery different, and thus, so special.

It is no secret that if you want a hamburger in the state of Wisconsin, and even in the city of Milwaukee we are blessed with our choice of quite a few establishments to choose from. That blessing quickly turns into a curse if you are not simply looking for a burger, but instead for a delicious and juicy burger created with local and quality ingredients. It is here that Dairyland separates itself from the other options you have. To begin with, 99.9% of everything they use comes from the state of Wisconsin. Mr. Fogle has a passion for supporting small and local businesses. Not to mention, the shorter the distance each ingredient must travel, the fresher it is when you take a bite. An additional upside to using this fresh, and local ingredients is that it provides a simple and easy way for you to support many local businesses with just one stop.

Another great thing about a trip to Dairyland is that everything is created in house. This is one of the most important aspects of his business we were told. Kurt Fogle was trained as a French Pastry chef and worked for some time in that field. Although he displayed an amazing talent, he felt something was missing. Kurt believed that quality should not be something reserved for the top 1%. He did the mental diligence and decided there was nothing more ubiquitous to the American menu than the hamburger. Next came the ‘why’. Why would you open another hamburger place in a country and a state that has so many? He did so because he believed you, me and the people of the state of Wisconsin deserve the quality product they have been lacking. At Dairyland, they know the science behind the food and control every aspect of what goes into each order created. From grinding their own meat for the burgers, to creating their own custard, nothing is left to the mercy of an outside supplier.

I have covered the ‘why’ you should visit Dairyland. Now, let us look at just a fraction of the mouth-watering items that wait for you upon your arrival. We began with an order of cheese curds. These are served with a side of buttermilk ranch. Margie, in addition to having a refined taste in the man she chooses to date, has a very selective palate when it comes to ranch dressing. When she told me this was some of the best ranch she has ever tried, I could not wait to do so myself. It did not disappoint! Where many ranches lack flavor or taste like a powdered packet added to some mayo. Not at Dairyland. The herbs and flavor pop and blend so well you are almost tempted to just grab a spoon. Let us get to what we were dipping in this amazing sauce. The cheese curds at Dairyland contain only Wisconsin cheese and you can taste it. They are plump and full. There will be no biting into a curd only to find empty batter. Speaking of the batter, it was light and crisp, yet somehow able to contain all that cheesy goodness. The order is big enough that I would recommend on sharing or making this your meal.

No trip to Dairyland would be complete without enjoying one of the delicious, hand-crafted burgers. That is what all three of us did. My mother went for the simple classic cheeseburger. The menu describes it as two seared 3 oz. hamburger patties, American cheese, ketchup, mayonnaise, yellow mustard, friend onions, dill pickles all on a sesame seed bun. It is important here to note that the patties are not frozen. They are fresh and the meat is ground right here at Dairyland. This is a difference you can both taste and feel from the very first bite. The texture of a Dairyland burger is perfect. You can tell what is missing is many of the preservatives and fillers found in the cheaper, frozen patties served in many of the places we are used to. Another thing that will take your palate by surprise, in a very pleasant way, is the taste of a hamburger. You may think you know what a hamburger tastes like until you have had one at Dairyland. The flavor of the fresh beef is something you owe it to yourself to experience.

Both the lovely Margie and I chose The Old-Fashioned. Described in the menu as follows; two seared 3 oz. hamburger patties, American cheese, ketchup, brown mustard, friend onions, dill pickle relish on a sesame seed bun. Two things I noticed about this burger after two bites. First was the quality of the beef as mentioned in the paragraph above.  Next was the cheese. Normally, when a burger comes with American cheese it is a nonevent. Once again this is where quality makes all the difference. Even the cheese tasted better at Dairyland, which in retrospect the name should have told us it would. The cheese not only had a wealth of flavor, but there was also a generous amount of it on the burger. It was melted perfectly, and it was presented in such a fashion that you could not wait to take a bite.

Since we're not in Rome, "When in Dairyland," enjoy some of their mouth-watering, made-in-house custard. The flavor of the day happened to be Mint Chocolate. This has always been one of my favorites. I ordered a scoop of that in a dish. Homemade custard is just the beginning at Dairyland. You can also top it with a wide variety of toppings. I added hot fudge.

Margie settled on straight up vanilla custard with salted caramel, whipped cream and jimmies. Both custards reflected the same quality found in their burgers. The custard was full of flavor and melted in your mouth. Our only regret is that we did not save room to sample some of the amazing and artistic creations at Mid-Way Bakery right next door. This is owned and operated by Kurt’s talented wife Katie and they follow the same standard to quality and uncompromising service that they do at Dairyland.

In conclusion, our dining experience can be summed up in just two words – simplicity and quality. In a state where you have more burger options than you have time to visit them all, wouldn’t you rather spend your time enjoying the best? Deep down, don’t you know that is what you deserve? If you answered yes to either or both of those questions, you owe it to yourself to visit both Dairyland Burgers and Mid-Way Bakery. You will not find any items on the menu that you can’t pronounce, and you can rest assured that they do not use any ingredients that you cannot pronounce. What else do you get for treating yourself to the highest quality food in town? Which, if we are being honest, is what we all deserve. You get the personal satisfaction that you are not just supporting one local business, but several. Remember, Dairyland uses nothing but quality ingredients that come from the great state of Wisconsin. That means fresh for you and great for our economy. Next time you have a craving for a burger, skip the drive-thru chain restaurant. Treat yourself to the best. Treat yourself to Dairyland.

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