Which is really too bad, because the Safe House has an eclectically fun and distinctively unique atmosphere. With the restaurant’s espionage theme, a reviewer shouldn’t give too much away. Let it suffice to say the ambience is unrivalled in its intrigue, and the décor and overall experience (minus the burgers) are unexpected yet thoroughly enjoyable. However, the Safe House should stick to drinks and assign a 007 agent the mission of eliminating the burger from the menu.
As outlined in “Tried-and-true cure for burger blues,” three general rules of thumb will help you determine from the get-go whether or not a restaurant will offer a quality burger. Unfortunately, the Safe House is an exception to each rule. It is a local place tucked into an alley (Rule 1) where burger buns are toasted (Rule 3), and the patty can be ordered with one of several interesting “international” topping combinations (Rule 2). Still, it gives a new meaning to the phrase “mystery meat.”
The first sign of treachery is when the “burger” arrives five minutes after putting in the order. Really savory burgers take at least a 10-15 minute wait time. As you take a couple grudging bites, you pick up clues that provide you with enough evidence to prove the “burger” on your plate is an impostor.
Exhibit A: The burger’s temperature hovers slightly above lukewarm. Even an amateur food investigator knows this is a sign of one of two things; either the burger has been subjected to a heat lamp, or the burger had been cooked earlier in the evening and then “re-heated” on the grill minutes before serving.
Exhibit B: The burger tastes fishy. No pun intended; it truly tastes fishy. You recall that the server mentioned a Friday Fish-Fry special and deduce that the beef and fish have been co-habitating on the same part of the grill. The result is a surf’n’turf flavor that nobody ordered.
Exhibit C: The fries bear an uncanny resemblance to the crinkle-cut Ore-Ida fries you can find in the freezer section of the grocery store. You suspect the patties came from a few shelves down.
With such incontrovertible evidence, you can only conclude that the Safe House is guilty of a heinous burger crime. The Safe House should just end the masquerade and admit that calling these things “burgers” is a tragic case of identity theft.
Even still, the Safe House itself is definitely a worthwhile Milwaukee experience and a fun, somewhat unpredictable evening out. Just do yourself a favor and only order drinks.
Nix: all aspects of the “burger” are a sham
Overall Rating: 1