Since opening around two years ago, AJ Bombers has established itself as one of the key stops for burger lovers in Milwaukee. I’ve heard some people suggest that this has more to do with their social media prowess than their food, but to those people, I simply say this… try a burger.
It is ironic that AJ Bombers is located in the same building that previously housed The Corner bar (Water and Knapp), which was closed after receiving one too many violations for exceeding capacity. When we arrived at AJ Bombers (Michelle’s nomination) on Friday night at around 7:45, it was packed, but we were seated quickly.
Most of our party had dined at AJ Bombers before (some of us with more success than others) and were excited to try some new things. The drink fare is pretty standard, but I tried Shannon’s Bloody Mary (it had a cheeseburger in it) and it was pretty tasty, you can read a review of that by going to Bloody Marys of Milwaukee. I had a Lakefront IPA, which is my typical standby, but also an absolutely great IPA.
Immediately, upon sitting, we were confronted by the ordering system, which received mixed reviews for our crew. Basically, you fill out your own order on the small, paper menu.
I really appreciate the ease of the ordering system. The waitresses already have to carry food – they shouldn’t also have to write down/remember the order as well. -Adam
Deficient ordering system. There is NO reason for write in menu. -TJ
TJ spent $18 on a burger in his last visit because of the challenges this menu presented.
This time, after asking just a few questions to our mostly capable waitress, TJ was able to navigate the ordering system, as were the rest of us. As we settled in to conversation, some of us enjoyed the free peanuts that are provided and part of AJ Bombers jumbled identity. I like that the peanuts make appetizers unnecessary, but a few of the girls have concerns.
Sanitation concern; I mean, what if someone dropped the peanut scoop on the floor and stuck it back in the peanuts? -Cindi
And yes… I was that someone. I still went ahead and ate the peanuts and I’m okay four days later. Oops…
The floor was very slippery from the peanut shells. I recommend not wearing heels. -Shannon
Rather quickly, our food arrived.
TJ: Grass Fed Cheeseburger and Fries. Lakefront IPA. “Good Burger.”
Shannon: Turkey Burger, Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls and the aforementioned Bloody Mary. “The burger was good but nothing I couldn’t make at home. Next time, I might spring for a “real burger” as the sample of TJ’s was really tasty. The buffalo chicken eggrolls were awesome (10)!”
Cindi: AJ Classic, single patty, hold the bomber-sauce, add mayo and a pickle. Paired with water. “The meat patty is well-seasoned and very tasty. However, I’m partial to a thicker, medium rare patty.”
Michelle: AJ Classic, single patty, add mushrooms. Fried Pickles. Riverwest Stein. “Pretty standard taste. I wanted to try something new but I wish I would have ordered the Barrie Burger. That burger is the the best!”
Adam: Barrie Burger and Sweet Potato Chips and a Bells Two-Hearted Ale. “It was as good as it usually is. I’m still trying to figure out a condiment that would go decent on it since the peanut butter can dry up your mouth a little. Mayo might be good but I’d feel like a glutton adding mayo to that burger.”
I was so excited to be going on a Friday, AJ Bombers always tweets about the “Frickle Friday.” I discovered fried pickles two summers ago at State Fair and I continue to seek them out whenever they are available (the worst I’ve had are Buffalo Wild Wings, the best were probably at Maxie’s Southern Comfort). The only thing I didn’t like about the Frickles is that there weren’t enough of them. I guess I would prefer them to be cut into chips, but nevertheless, they were excellent, paired typically with ranch sauce.
Like Michelle, I also decided to switch it up from the Barrie Burger and tried the Milwaukee Burger minus cheese. This is the burger that bested Sobelman’s in the Food Wars. I love that AJ Bombers uses local Nueske’s bacon, but the “Schlitz onions” just tasted like regular raw diced onions. The thing that puts AJ Bombers on my shortlist though, is the incredible meat. As we learned on Food Wars, it is a blend of three different cuts of beef, and it is spectacular. Having the patty on two different burgers now, I can say that it goes well with any ingredient, but also that it is the standout of the entire burger.
We finished almost everything, but the meal wasn’t complete until we got a free chocolate chip cookie for dessert, thanks to checking in and posting a photo on Foursquare (I told you AJ Bombers was social media friendly). The cookie was gooey, warm and delicious.
We lingered for a bit, finishing our drinks and taking in the ambiance. Shannon summed it up nicely:
“The atmosphere was fun, loud and active. It’d be a good place to go with friends. As a non-tweeter, I think the amount of hash tags on the walls was too much. #notcool”
That’s right, if you come to AJ Bombers, bring a sharpie, you can write your twitter handle, or whatever else you’d like, on the wall.
Sure some of the touches seem a tad contrived, and sure the social media aspects can be a little distracting, and this comes from someone who loves his iPhone, but overall if you want a lively, delicious dinner, AJ Bombers is a good place to go. AJ Bombers is the new Milwaukee, forging its own identity, not encumbered or enriched by the history of this city. This is both good and bad. Of course, maybe I’m just thinking about it too much. Really, it is just about a good burger.
AJ Bombers cumulative rating: 6.8
Following our delicious dinner, we decided to wash it down with
a few three bottles of wine at Vino 100 (Erie and Water). We had two reds and a white and all of them were tasty. The one thing that troubled me is the $5 corking fee added to each bottle, that seems like an excessive amount to pay for something I could easily do myself.
The ambiance is really nice, and after a few bottles and an hour of conversation, we decided to play a game of Apples to Apples, which, not surprisingly, I won! (Now would be a good time to play your ‘Nick Honeck’ card.)
Finally, the Friday workday caught up to all of us around midnight and we headed our separate ways, but with joy in my heart, I knew this… full and not quite drunk, our quest had just begun.
Losing nominations for ‘A’ were Abu’s (Adam), Anne’s (Cindi), Allium (TJ), Andrea’s Red Rooster (Shannon) and Albanese’s Roadhouse (Nick).