Front view of Cloud Red on Oakland Avenue in Shorewood. (Talia Gottlieb)
Front view of Cloud Red on Oakland Avenue in Shorewood.

Talia Gottlieb

On cloud nine at Cloud Red

November 16, 2016

I am very proud to say that on Sunday, Nov. 13, I had the world’s best burger.

I’m not exaggerating. This burger was life changing. Forever and always will Cloud Red’s “Ney’s Big Sky Burger” hold a very special place in my heart.

It was just your average Sunday of waking up halfway through the day, procrastinating and, of course, a family dinner to start off the week. This week, dinner had to be extra special because I had been pretty sad about the end of my swim season. Since food is the only true way to console me, my dad graciously agreed to take us out to dinner in honor of my long time swimming career (a.k.a, my family needed a way to get me to lighten up.)

We had trouble choosing where to eat, because we didn’t want to go to any of the same old restaurants in Mequon, but we definitely weren’t in the mood for a road trip downtown. My little brother suggested a new-ish place in Shorewood called Cloud Red. I’d never heard of it before, but he told me I could go in my parka and winter boots. I was sold.

Why was I wearing my winter boots and parka? Because the heating is temporarily broken in my house and it’s November in Wisconsin; I think that’s reason enough.

On the way there, I wondered what this restaurant actually served, and my dad told me that they have a very small and versatile menu. “How small is small?” I asked, and he responded with, “Probably ten items on their menu.” Only ten? What? Was this the school cafeteria or my dinner destination? He told me to “trust him” as we pulled onto Oakland Avenue and up to this very aesthetically pleasing joint.

We got there at the perfect time; there were maybe four other couples there, and maybe one or two people at the bar. I stood waiting to be seated, as one normally would at a restaurant, confused as to why my family just wandered and seated themselves. Apparently, I was the only Cloud Red virgin of the five of us. As I discovered, this place is equally unique as it is chic. Guests seat themselves and grab their own water pitchers, glasses and silverware from the back. Above the pitcher stand is the menu: a rather short but absolutely delicious menu. Everything they serve, or mostly everything, is farm to table, meaning the meats are richer, the vegetables are fresher and the fruits are riper. I stood ecstatically in front of the menu deciding what I was most in the mood for.

Even with as small of a menu as literally ten items, I still had trouble choosing what to order. On a whim, I chose their one and only burger: “The Ney’s Big Sky Burger,” a grass-fed burger with bacon, fried onion strings, tomato and lettuce. I had been craving a burger since my trip to Hollander, so I figured any old burger would do the trick.

My family ordered fresh chicken spring rolls and roasted brussel sprouts as appetizers. I, for one, in most capacities, absolutely despise brussel sprouts. They are miniature heads of lettuce with an unsavory asparagus flavor, but that’s just one girl’s opinion. However, these smelled delicious, so I tried them; they were delicious. My thoughts? Any restaurant that can make brussel sprouts taste good is a winner.

Next came my burger.

I can still smell its lingering scent as it was placed on the table in front of me. It was a beautiful hamburger. Something about its simplicity was so appealing to the eyes, nose and salivary glands.

I ate my pickle first, as I always do, still unaware of the masterpiece that sat in front of me. After my brother finally got his food, we all dug in.

So many emotions. My senses were tingling. At first touch, I was enchanted by the stickiness of the bun; it seemed almost glazed like a donut. I took my first bite, tasting the stickiness of the bun, the crispiness of the lettuce and the crunch of the onion fries. Then, I got to the burger.

My oh my.

My eyes and tastebuds lit up in disbelief of the taste of this burger. It was magical, something I’d never tasted before. It made all the other burgers seem like dry cardboard patties with flaky buns and day-old vegetables. I’m not kidding, this burger became the sole important thing in my life. It even put Kopps burgers to shame, my ultimate go-to.

After my family noticed the expression on my face, my brother asked me if he could have a bite. I whacked his hand away from my food so fast he couldn’t even process what happened. My mom told me I “can’t use physical violence to defend my food;” clearly, she did not understand the magnitude of excellence of this particular meal.

Contrary to the pace at which I usually inhale good food, I savored this burger to the very last bite. I know I said it before, but I actually never wanted this burger to end. It was the best thing on God’s green earth, all I wanted to do was go back for another. All I want to do right now is go back for another. Forget ice cream and chocolate cake, I would eat this burger for dessert.

Sooner rather than later, I knew it was time to go. I went through stages of denial of my responsibilities back at home and neglect of my family’s desire to get a little sleep before an early Monday morning. As I took my last bite, I wished my burger not a goodbye, but a see you later.

You may choose not to believe that this is the best burger in all of the land, but that’s your loss: more for me.

Check out Cloud Red in Shorewood for the best dinner of your life! Thanks for reading!

Comments (0)

All The Highlander Online Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *