Review: Three Cheese ButterBurger from Culver’s
As a Junior in High School, I scored a perfect 16 out of 16 on the analogy section of the PSAT, so when it comes to the topic of comparative literature I feel that I speak with some authority. Therefore, in an effort to set the stage for this review and disclose my bias, I present this – Minnesota : Wisconsin :: Springfield : Shelbyville. Loyal GrubGraders will know that I am a native Minnesotan, meaning that just as Homer encouraged his boy to shake his fist at all things Shelbyville, my dad taught me to do the same to anything with origins in the dairyland to our east, most notably, the Packers.
With this history as a backdrop, you can imagine my skepticism when the Culver’s franchise first dared set up shop in the Twin Cities a few years ago. Initially, of course, I figured they would all fail within months, you know, because they were from Wisconsin and any self respecting Minnesotan would not set foot in one. Well, as it turns out, they, like the internet, were more than just a passing fad. Several years later there are countless Culver’s in the metro and across our great state. As a bit of irony, my first trip into a Culver’s was actually with the man who taught me to keep an eye on Bucky Badger, but don’t worry, he wasn’t going to let these two bit Wisconsinite’s off the hook. He was going to do the only logical thing he could think of to put them in their place. He would correct their grammar.
The sign outside of every Culver’s has two tag lines below the name. The first reads: “Frozen Custard”. The second line, appearing directly below the first reads: “Butter Burgers”. To a simpleton Cheezehead, this indicates that there are two primary offerings inside; Frozen Custard and Butter Burgers. But, of course, to any well educated person like my dad, the sign clearly lacked the necessary comma to indicate that they were not actually offering “Frozen Custard Butter Burgers”. So, ready to teach these intruders about the linguistic standards we expect of our immigrants, he proceeded to tell the 16-year-old girl behind the counter that he would like a Frozen Custard Butter Burger. Without flinching, the cashier asked: “What flavor custard would you like? Do you want your burger in a combo meal with fries? Clearly, the message had been sent. Years later now, I have dialed back my disdain for Culver’s (but not for the Packers). However, I still associate the Culver’s brand with Wisconsin, which makes it a little strange to see them around here. Thus, in order to give a proper review of the new Three Cheese ButterBurger, I thought it best to go into the belly of the beast. So, on a recent road trip to Milwaukee (Algonquin for “The Good Land”), I made a stop at a genuine Wisconsin Culver’s. I chose the Three Cheese ButterBurger since it was the new featured item on their menu and we here at GrubGrade strive to keep things fresh.
Culver’s shares this philosophy. As noted in this press release, they do not freeze their beef and always cook your burger to order.
“The ButterBurger, a guest favorite, is amplified with three varieties of cheese, all crafted in Culver’s home state of Wisconsin. Cheddar (Kiel, Wis.), Swiss (New Berlin, Wis.) and American (Manitowoc County) bloom with flavor on the fresh, never frozen Midwest-raised beef seared on a grill. The lightly buttered, toasted bun gives a ButterBurger its signature name.”
Some places will say they cook your burger to order, but I never really believe them when it’s on my tray before I can leave the counter. Culver’s gives you one of those plastic numbers to put on your table and then they bring your food out to you, which lends credence to their claim. If you go through their drive through, expect to have to pull forward once you pay and wait for them to bring your order out curbside.
If you’ve never had a ButterBurger before, it’s something to put on your “bucket list” (shout out to commenter Keith). It’s not something so totally new that you should pack up the kids and head to the Midwest, just to try, but there’s a particular taste-texture combination that sets it apart from its fast food burger cousins. To be clear, the burger is not fried in butter. Only the bun is coated in butter and then toasted on the grill. There’s nothing too groundbreaking about the Three Cheese ButterBurger. It’s just a double with three cheeses in an alternating, cheese-patty-cheese-patty-cheese roll call. However, it sets up nicely as a simple, but solid burger. The cheeses being separated by patties and not stacked on top of each other allows your taste buds room to maneuver and pick out the quality Wisconsin dairy products (There, I said it. I used Wisconsin and quality in the same sentence). After all, Wisconsin : Cheese :: J-Lo : Junk-in-the-Trunk.
The double is a manageable size and doesn’t leave you feeling like a gluttonous American; more like a hearty Midwesterner. However, if you’re looking to try out Culver’s other specialty, the Frozen Custard, I’d opt for the fries instead of the Cheese Curds as the compliment to your combo. With the standard fries as a side, the meal will will set you back $6.79; not unreasonable given the quality of the food. As you can see from my pictures, the Culver’s staff didn’t exactly construct me a perfect burger, but then again, this isn’t New York, and I’m not expecting to eat this thing with a knife and fork, so the poor presentation didn’t really bother me. Culvers has a number of unique choices on their menu, including a Beef Pot Roast (can be ordered as a dinner or as a sandwich) and a Swiss Patty Melt (my favorite). In summary, Culvers : Fast Food :: GrubGrade : Food Blogs.
Pros: Classic Midwest experience, good solid cheeseburger, lots of menu choices for sides and other sandwiches if someone in your party is not in the mood for a burger.
Cons: For Bears and Vikings fans, you may have to admit you like something from Wisconsin; They don't actually make Frozen Custard ButterBurgers.
Grubbing on-the-go: 5.00
Price: 6.79 combo meal
Overall GrubGrade: 8.00/10
42 g fat
175 mg cholesterol
1015 mg sodium