Photo by Adam Ryan Morris Every American city has a claim to fame. For Seymour, Wis., it’s inventing the hamburger. At an 1885 fair, a dude named Charlie had little success selling beef meatballs, so he mashed them up, and the burger patty was born. Or so Seymourites believe. (Towns in Connecticut and Texas also […]


Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

Every American city has a claim to fame. For Seymour, Wis., it’s inventing the hamburger. At an 1885 fair, a dude named Charlie had little success selling beef meatballs, so he mashed them up, and the burger patty was born. Or so Seymourites believe. (Towns in Connecticut and Texas also lay claim to the invention.)

Our city, which a few years ago hosted a Travel Channel-documented “war” between Sobelman’s and AJ Bombers, is not blasé about its burgers, either, welcoming high and low versions with equal zest. Just as the notion of too many fish fries or pizzerias is unthinkable, we cannot welcome another burger joint with anything but open arms. With that, I give you Jake’s Burger, which fits into the burger landscape with enough girth to challenge a jaw like Steven Tyler’s.(Our photos attest to that.)

Capped with ingredients such as truffle cheese, arugula and port wine-caramelized onions, these burgers are borderline “haute.” Not coincidentally, the burger joint’s predecessor was Haute Taco, which elevated the taqueria concept a shade. The ownership is the same, too.

Bite into a Jake’s Port and Blue Burger ($9.95), and the patty (of ground short rib, brisket and sirloin) may cloud your judgment for a while. That’s what a good burger can do. I can’t think of a taco ever having the same effect. But co-owner Jake Replogle’s reasoning for closing Haute and replacing it with burgers wasn’t based on burger brain lapses. He thinks the taqueria concept is better suited to an area like Bay View and that burgers are “more of an everyday” indulgence. Haute Taco, he adds, is simply in limbo until the right location is found.

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Once Haute was shuttered last spring, the staff rolled into high gear to pull off the interior changes, including covering the walls with logo-ed wallpaper, and reopened just a few weeks later.

But does the burger endeavor seem a little random? Actually, no. At his Jake’s Restaurant in Pewaukee, Replogle serves a burger on the lounge menu. And the iconic Jake’s tenderloin filet has been served with haystack onion strings since, conceivably, the beginning of time. Onion strings and burgers – what’s more compatible? (Yeah, OK, fries. Jake’s serves them, too.)

Burgers are easy. But not pushovers. You’ll notice a line on the menu about the burger’s medium temperature of preparation. To achieve this consistency, the patties are done in the sous-vide style, a technique that cooks food slowly at a low temperature. In this case, using a CVap (controlled vapor technology) appliance. The burgers I ordered maintained their juicy pinkness from end to middle and back again. Eight of the 11 burgers ($6.95-$10.95) are beef patties cooked sous-vide then finished off on the flat top. If you’re not uppity about toppings, you might go for the classic – American, lettuce, tomato, red onion and a few homemade bread-and-butter pickle coins ($7.95).

Me, I’ve got a yen for that above-mentioned Port and Blue (blue cheese and port wine-caramelized onions) and without a doubt, the patty topped with Brie truffle cheese, truffle oil and arugula ($10.95). It’s about the sharp, pungent flavors.

Burgers also come in quotation marks, as in a beer-battered cod filet “burger” topped with creamy slaw, rémoulade sauce and pickle coins, all smushed between a top and bottom bun. Messy, but so tasty. Two burger versions are termed “rafts” – served on only a bottom bun and stacked to the hilt. The pinnacle is the tuna niçoise ($10.95), a medium-rare albacore filet topped with most of the components of a salade niçoise (green beans to olives to tangy sherry Dijon vinaigrette).

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In each case, the crispy, lacy strings of battered fried onions act the part of Tonto to the burger’s Lone Ranger. Crunchy, sweet curls of onion. Addictive. Better than the fries, which are thicker than frites, and the respectably crisp and golden potato chips.

I have lukewarm feelings about one thing at Jake’s and that is charging à la carte for everything. This means the burgers come solo. Onion strings ($3.95), fries ($3.95), even a dish of pickle coins ($1.95) will pile up quickly on the bill.

That said, Jake’s burgers won’t conjure up images of flattened George Webb’s patties or face-size Kopp’s burgers. A niche, it just might have.

Jake’s Burger
18905 W. Capitol Dr., Suite 110, Brookfield, 262-781-1110. Prices: snacks and sides $1.95-$3.95; salads $6.95-$7.95; burgers $6.95-$10.95. Hours: L Tues-Fri 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. D Tues-Thurs 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m.; Fri-Sat 4:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Handicap access: Call ahead for help. Credit cards: M V A D. Reservations: accepted.

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