AJ Bombers or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Eat the Milwaukee Burger

OK.  I realize I started last week’s entry with a declaration that I was now, officially, a Milwaukeean…or a Milwaukee-ite…a Milwaulker…whatever, but that was sort of a lie. I did move into my apartment and all that jazz but I wrote that review in Ohio and had yet to spend a night alone in the Caravel of Cow (ok, linguists, Caravel means ship…but Caravel of Cow is a sweet name and it’s sticking).  Now, without reserve, I can say that I’m an official Milwaukee resident.

This week also happened to be my first week of law school at Marquette University (check out the snazzy new website. oh so snazzy). Law school is hard. That’s all I’ll say for the time on that subject. No one wants to hear me complain about having to read crap so that I can eventually force other people to pay me to help them do things that they probably could figure out on their own, so I won’t.

The first two days of the week were orientation. We participated in the requisite getting to know you activities, sat in on a few mock classes, and were presented with a leather-bound flash drive.  Seriously, this thing is leather (well, maybe pleather) bound. THIS IS A JESUIT SCHOOL! Couldn’t the Jesuits have found something better to spend those extra dollars on? Maybe poor people?  A new statue of Marquette to replace the Musketeer-esque one already on campus?  They should have used those extra dollars to buy us all a burger from AJ Bombers…but more on them later.

I don’t know a lot about the Jesuits, but they seem like pretty cool people focused on awesome things such as social justice, this Ignatius guy (at the University of Paris they called him Iggy), and having the best uniforms in all of college basketball.  They probably like Jesus (I presume that Jesuit isn’t Latin for one who enjoys water polo), they have a ton of colleges so there is an obvious focus on education, and they have perfected the art of levitation passed down from generations of Tibetan Jesuit teachings. One of those things is true.

(What the f?! There is this dog in my neighborhood that has a weird moaning bark. It sounds like an old person with emphysema is moaning. It’s either a dog or that goat that sounds like Usher.)

Another side note: Did you ever play that get-to-know-you-game two truths and a lie? I like to play that game in actual life. Whenever I have a conversation with someone I like to throw a nice lie in there to spice things up. Usually the lie is something completely outlandish. For example, did you know that Milwaukee is a Portuguese word that means to sit on top of a post while composing music? That’s pretty obviously not true. Other times I like to throw in a subtle lie to make sure the person I’m talking to is worthy of being a friend.  Another example:

Me: Ah, man you’ve got to see Midnight in Paris. It’s a great movie, maybe the best of 2011.

Friend: Oh, really? I haven’t heard of it.

Me: Really? It’s about Owen Wilson and Ryan Gossling’s Alzheimery wife eat off of a magic cannoli and switch bodies until midnight…in Paris.

Friend: Really? That sounds weird.

Me: Oh, yeah? We’re not friends anymore

OK, that’s a lie. I’m not that douchey. But the part about the two truths and a lie is completely true.  Also, I’m sorry for saying Alzheimery, especially after the Pat Summitt news. Read this article on her. My late great grandma had Alzheimer’s. It sucked.

Wow, that got dark fast.  I’m uncomfortable…let’s move on to the important part…AJ Bombers.

Orientation ended on Tuesday, and I was hungry and didn’t feel like cooking, so I decided to grab a burger at AJ Bombers.  In all honesty I had planned on burgering at the Eatery on Farwell that day, but AJ Bombers added me on Twitter and I remembered the name from my trip to Sobleman’s.  AJ Bombers it was.

I left Orientation around 2, headed to a Target on the south side, and got to AJ Bombers at 4 for a perfectly-timed dinner. Wait, you don’t eat dinner at 4? It’s the hip thing to do…it’s called early dinner.

If the name AJ Bombers seems odd, you’ll understand when you enter the restaurant. From the floor to ceiling, AJ Bombers is covered in, well, bombers. Literal bombs run on tracks along the ceiling, paintings of bombs adorn the walls, and the remnants of bombed peanut shells litter the floor (it’s totally not litter…I’m a big fan of peanuts on the floor).  AJ Bombers immediately brought to mind Dr. Strangelove.  Well, it is more of a post Dr. Strangelove world. Imagine after Slim Pickens’ character rode the bomb and more or less ended the world. We’d be stuck in this post-apocalyptic world where bombs would be flying everywhere. To be concise (and totally understandable unless you’re a NERD) AJ Bombers looks like Slim Pickens’ post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies where everything is built by Australian Mel Gibson in Mad Max (I’ve never seen Mad Max…does he build stuff…and isn’t Mad Max the sequel to another movie?).  Anyway, it’s really cool. The servers fill the bombs with peanuts and push them toward tables where they explode down a chute for the awaiting customers.  If this is what the post-apocolyptic world is like then sign me up.

AJ Bombers entered my brain after my trip to Sobleman’s where I tried the Loser burger that lost out to what became AJ’s Milwaukee Burger (the winner!).  I’d already tried the Loser (it was aight) so I had to have a Milwaukee Burger.  The Milwaukee burger consists of a 1/4 lb. burger (for specifics on the meet watch the Food Wars video), double WIsconsin Colby Cheese, double Nueske’s bacon, and Schlitz onions.  I also had to have some cheese curds and some sweet potato chips. Wisconsin is awesome. I love cheese curds. Thank you, Wisconsin!

The curds and sweet potato chips arrived first.  These were my third experience with cheese curds (Palomino which was awesome and Culvers’ which was meh) and they did not disappoint. The cheese curds were delicious, lightly fried, and stringy (in a really good way). They were significantly lighter than the Palomino curds.  I’m not a big guy, so the lightness of the curds was more than welcome. It allowed me to comfortably finish the rest of the meal.

Cheese Curds are Yummytown.

After devouring the curds (more like eating most of than devouring) I moved on to the sweet potato chips.  There seem to be a lot of sweet potatoes in Milwaukee.  Is that a Wisconsin thing? Like the curds, the chips were also light a delicious. They provided the delicate sweetness of, well, sweet potatoes combined with the salty-crunchiness of regular chips. Another fantastic appetizer on the way to my Milwaukee burger.

Here, chippy, chippy, chippy.

Finally, it was time for the main course (or the Cor du Manuddturr as the French say).  The first thing I noticed about the Milwaukee Burger was the size. It is not, by any means, an imposing burger. It was, like Sobleman’s Loser, just a 1/4 pounder. I know that sounds massive to most of you (THAT’S WHAT SHE…must resist…SAID) but after eating quite a few 1/2 lb pub burgers it was nice to have a smaller burger…especially with all of the other fried stuff I ate that day.  The bun was a bit smaller than Sobleman’s, which was also welcome because that bun really overpowered the loser.  Also, the onions on the MIlwaukee Burger were sliced rather than diced like Sobleman’s Loser.  OK, that’s the last comparison I’ll make between the two. The Loser was an OK burger and was in a TV competition with the Milwaukee Burger but the Milwaukee Burger is in an entirely different class. It should not be compared with the Loser because it is that much better.

The Milwaukee Burger

Despite being 1/4 lb, the Milwaukee Burger was deliciously juicy.  The juice dribbled onto my plate and chin and it was awesome.  AJ’s bun was light and just flaky enough to give you a good handle on the burger.  The double Nueske’s bacon was really well smoked and flavorful. Bacon cannot be done wrong! And the cheese. OH THE CHEESE. The double cheese was a brilliant idea. I can imagine AJ (ok the owner’s name is Joe and he looks cool and all but I imagine AJ as an eccentric vietnam vet who lives under a bridge and works on burger recipes seasoned with Agent Orange) trying the burger with only one slice of cheese and exclaiming “NEEDS MORE CHEESE, CHEEESE, CHEEEEEEEEEESE.” He would then put another slice of cheese on the burger and say, “Ah, excellent, it merely needed one more slice of cheese.”  The cheese added a ton of great flavor to the burger and was probably my favorite part. Probably. Finally, the onions were thankfully sliced and cocked in Schlitz. They were fantastic. Best onions I have had in Milwaukee. There is nothing more I can say about the onions.

The wait-staff poked a little fun at me for attempting to eat as much as I did, but I think I made them proud.  When I got ready to leave, I talked to the Chief Tweeter (man, chief tweeter sounds incredibly dirty) and he let me sign the twitter wall. SCORE! Now I can up my readership to 3! Thanks to my other reader, mom.

The burger was fantastic. I loved it. It’s a different burger than the 1/3 and 1/2 lbers at Stack’d and Palomino, and it is wonderful because of that. AJ Bombers Milwaukee Burger is my favorite 1/4 lb burger (is it a griddled burger? I need to get my burger classifications down).

Here’s the nitty gritty:

Cheese Curds (1-5): 5

– I love Wisconsin if only for the fact that every restaurant serves cheese curds. AJ’s do not disappoint. The curds where were lightly fried and golden-delicious in a completely different way than the apple. The half order was plenty for me but you should get a full order and not feel guilty when you gain 4 pounds.

Sweet Potato Chips (1-5): 4

– I think I prefer Sweet Potato Tots a little more but these chips were really delicious. They were also light and provided a perfect pre meal snack…or appetizer as fancy people say. The orange color was fun (ugh that sounds like something someone with a fanny pack would ironically say as they twirled their new Bon Iver vinyl on their finger) and set these apart from sweetened potato chips.

Bun (1-5): 5

– This bun was perfect for the burger. It was light and flaky and provided a container for the burger rather than overpowering it. The bun was slightly sweet, but not noticeably or imposingly so.

Bacon (1-5): 5

– Bacon is bacon…what more can I say?

Cheese (1-5): 5

– I loved the cheese so much. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about colby on a burger but I was in love. The double helping added a great amount of flavor to the beef without overpowering the 1/4 lb patty.

Beef (1-5): 4

– I loved the 1/4 lb patty but am maybe partial to the 1/3 lb variety.  However, this patty was way more juicy than was conceivable…in a great way. The grease was delicious and the meet was flavorful.  The bacon really added to this flavor.

Recommendation: 

– AJ Bombers is great. It’s fun, you get bombed by peanuts, you can pretend you are Piggy or Slim Pickens or Peter Sellers, and you can get a great burger with some great sides and appetizers. Take your friends with you so you can grab a corner booth.  Say hi to the Tweetmeister.  Have a good time. AJ’s is a good time.

– The Milwaukee burger gets a 5 out of 5. I know that’s like the 10th perfect rating I’ve given, but trust me on this one. It’s really great. Take your family. Take your child. Take your friend’s child. Take your friend’s child’s friend from soccer.  Eat too much.

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