In this series, we’ll be hiking the burger trail to find the latest, greatest and most delicious burgers in Milwaukee. Click hereClick here to find out more about the criteria that were used for grading each hamburger. Check out the We have compiled a comprehensive list of all burger reviews..
It’s been a hot minute since I last reviewed a burger for the On the Burger Trail series. The series was a little tired after eating more than 180 hamburgers. I decided not to continue looking for the best hamburger, but to restrain myself.
Due to the rise in popularity of beefy goodness and the openings of new restaurants, I brought back Dining Month. If all goes well, I plan to continue the series on a monthly basis. I may even revisit some classic burgers and old favorites, just to see how they’ve held up over the years.
Sweet Smoke BBQ pop up
Since returning to The Burger Trail, I seem like I’ve had an unusual streak in luck with finding new burgers and they live up to my expectations. I’m taking it as a sign that restaurants are truly upping their game in the burger realm, and I definitely hope it continues.
So when I decided to visit Sweet Smoke BBQ at Enlightened Brewing’s Sunday burger day, I was hopeful that their nascent concept would hit all the right notes.
Sweet Smoke was launched in the summer. It’s currently a pop-up shop operated by Adam Beilke and his wife, Cindi. Adam is a smoked meat hobbyist-turned-professional whose obsession with barbeque began with a trip to one of the nation’s finest, Franklin BBQ in Austin.
Sweet Smoke offers a Texas-style barbecue smoker that smokes over hickory. You can also order pulled pork, turkey and ribs. There are also occasional specials including BBQ chili, tacos and many more.
While Adam handles the smoker, Cindi is the driving force behind the BBQ concept’s seasonal side dishes, which have included offerings like potato salad, smashed cucumber salad, watermelon mint salad, lime street corn and corn muffins.
As for their pop-ups, they make regular appearances at Enlightened Brewing, but have also made appearances at Ray’s Wine & Spirits and various events around town. Their weekly menu and schedule can be found online. Instagram. Burgers are available on Sundays.
Sweet Smoke’s Smoked Brisket Smashburger features two smashed burger patties served on a buttered and toasted bun ($9.50) with American cheese and pickles (+$0.50). Our Smoked Brisket Smashburger also included chips ($1) and coleslaw ($3). At the counter, condiments such as mayo, ketchup, mustard and BBQ sauce are also available.
This burger was fantastic and came in an open-faced paper tray. The bun’s top was displayed on the side, showing off its golden-toasted interior. The side featured two patties made of American cheese, which were sliced in an unorthodoxly-shaped and caramelized manner. To add color and freshness to the deliciously fresh lily, three pickles were placed on top.
This bun wasn’t very good. It was soft, fresh and delicious with a delicate interior. Also, it had a mild taste. Butter and heat from the grill helped transform the cuts into a gorgeous golden brown. The perfect size to make patties, and the right proportion of meat to bread.
Great beef is the foundation of a great burger. The cut of beef you choose is very important. Sweet Smoke’s are made from chopped brisket trimmings mixed with prime ground brisket and smashed to order, the patties delivered on the rich beefy flavor for which brisket is prized, plus a hint (just a hint) of smoke from the trimmings.
They were delicious in texture. The burgers were tender and juicy but not too heavy. Although the patties weren’t crisp enough for a great burger, they had nice caramelization.
Basic burgers are trickier than flashy loaded-down burgers because there’s little to hide behind. Every ingredient should play its part and all flavors must be balanced. That’s precisely the case here. Each bite was infused with a small amount of the salty umami flavor from American cheese, which was only melted. You could also find the classic dill pickles, which provided bright notes to cut through the richness of the brisket’s flavor and texture.
While condiments were available to add to the burger, I found I didn’t need them. It was good enough on its own. It was a strong burger, the cheese added a little salt, and the pickles gave it some acidity.
These days, it’s tough to argue with a $10 burger, especially when it delivers on the flavor front. If you are looking for a delicious burger that is both tasty and satisfying, Sweet Smoke might be the right choice.
The best burgers don’t need frills to make them shine. Sweet Smoke’s Smoked Brisket Smashburger is a great example. The fact that it’s only available for a few hours once a week makes the mystique of this burger even more sweet.