Milan is not short on burger joints. Perhaps it is unsurprising that, in a city this obsessed with setting new trends, it can often seems that a new burger restaurant is opening every week offering something new – some special twist. In Milan you can find burgers with foie gras, vegan burgers, Australian burgers, burgers without bread, burgers so big you need a knife and fork to eat them. Hell, we’ve even seen a burger that costs €24.
Suffice to say, the humble cheeseburger has evolved here from “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun” into something almost unrecognizable. Don’t get us wrong, we here at Flawless Milano love trying new culinary experiences and sharing our thoughts with our readers. But in order to do this, we have to respect tradition and we have to set some benchmarks.
Cow Burger in via Giuseppe Ripamonti is a relatively new player on the burger scene, but what it lacks in experience it makes up for in flavor. It didn’t take us long to declare Cow Burger’s standard cheeseburger our new benchmark. We’ll start by talking about the meat. For a place called Cow Burger, it’s no surprise that beef is the star of the show here. You have a choice of two types of beef in your burger, 100% Bovina Italiana, or 100% Bovina Italiana Omega 3. We’d opt for the Omega 3. It’s a hard sell saying that this burger is anywhere close to being health food, but good burgers patties need fat for flavor, and for some reason, this fatty flavor bomb of a burger doesn’t feel us leaving greasy and tired. The burgers are cooked through, but just slightly pink in the middle.
The cheddar is fancy-free. And that’s ok. That’s the way it’s meant to be. The focus here is on softness. There is something sexy about the way cheddar melts. It keeps the minced meat just barely bound together. Cheddar and beef are two ingredients are seemingly made for each other – and here they’ve been perfectly matched, with neither flavor dominating, but working together to bring out the best in each other.
Cow Burger’s cheeseburger features grilled onions. I personally hate raw onions in anything, but grill those babies on low heat for a few hours, and you have a delicate equilibrium between savory and sweet that adds unexpected depth to the other flavors in this burger.
It would be good enough on its own then, but Cow Burger adds smoked Irish bacon to the mix. One thing many burger makes overlook is the need for an interplay of textures in a burger. It makes for a much more interesting experience when your teeth crack through crunchy bacon, rich in salt, smoke and fat. It’s relatively thick cut bacon, which is harder to find in prosciutto-obsessed Milan than you might think. Most burger purveyors would make this an optional extra. Thank you Cow Burger for making it standard.
And finally, that soft, sweet, caramelized roll. Few Milanese burger joints actually get this right, but Cow Burger again gets this spot on. By grilling their bread, a golden impermeable crust forms which ensures that the bread doesn’t soak up all the fat in the burger and become soggy. There is nothing worse than having a burger fall apart in your hands.
We usually would talk about the restaurant’s décor and vibe here. There’s no point. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be too busy either peering into the kitchen, or scarfing down that burger to even notice your surroundings. We’ll leave it at this: if you can snag a table during peak hour, you should probably buy a lottery ticket. We’d like to call this one of Milan’s best kept secrets, but for a place this popular, it’s hard to call it a secret anymore.