Friday, July 6, 2012
Fried Cheese Curds- Miller Brewhouse, Milwaukee WI
So I was on my way home from Milwaukee- inside General Mitchell International Airport actually- I had plenty of time to kill before my flight out- so there was also plenty of time for a little lunch. The Miller Brewhouse restaurant seemed to be the most promising choice just outside the security checkpoint for concourse E. Over the two days I was in town, I heard that "fried cheese curds" was a local thing to have, and Miller Brewhouse had them on the menu...
Unsurprisingly, they taste and feel a lot like the more common fried mozzarella sticks found in diners across the country. This should not come as a shock- mozzarella begins life as simple cheese curds that are melted in a bath of hot water, then stretched over and over to develop that classic stringy texture. The fried cheese curds basically tasted very familiar, but had a less stretchy texture to them- at least while they were still blazing hot. As they cooled off, the differences between the curds and the more familiar mozzarella became more evident- they felt more "chunky" and did not stretch much once they began to solidify. These curds were clearly not the best quality ones in the world (a shame considering I was in "America's Dairyland") - and they were most likely frozen rather than fresh- but that's airport food for you...
That said, the place was actually a fun an interesting looking spot to kill an hour or so before cramming myself into a "business class" seat for a few hours. The restaurant's centerpiece is a partially stripped-down aircraft wing emblazoned with the "Miller High Life" logo. There was also fairly large bar area that, naturally, featured several Miller products on tap. (For the record, I went with a Sam Adams- they actually had Leinenkugel on tap - a very good beer from the western part of Wisconsin, that would have been a more authentic, local choice...)
The rest of my lunch was a slightly disappointing mushroom-swiss cheeseburger. The burger was supposed to be "medium" but was more like medium-well with no trace of pink to it- but that's neither here nor there. The mushrooms did not seem like they were fresh- probably canned or frozen, again that's neither here nor there. The real disappointment was the swiss cheese. In Wisconsin, I would at least expect a decent quality cheese by default- but the swiss cheese on this burger was somewhat rubbery and tasteless.
On the plus side, the steak fries were pretty good- soft on the inside and a little crunch on the outside. I wouldn't call them "great" or on a par with the fantastic fries they churn out over at Five Guys. I wasn't expecting much from a mass market airport eatery, and they lived up to the expectation. The fried cheese curds were a nice, unusual (for me) treat, but ultimately, I'm sure I could easily find better outside the airport with little effort. I do regret not reaching for a Leinenkugel when I had the chance though.