When the Sports Corner on 500 Grant Street in De Pere closed it’s doors it took with it one of the area’s most beautiful places to catch a meal or drink or a sports game. The old building had been wonderfully restored and housed both a sports bar and a more upscale restaurant on the east side.
When Julie’s Cafe bought the place in July of last year it may have raised a couple eyebrows. The cafe, which opened in November seemed to be in an odd place, so far from the traffic off Main Street. The building wasn’t the most natural fit for the establishment, and it only took up half the available space. Rest assured, the missing piece of the puzzle in Julie’s new venture is Brickhouse, Craft Burgers and Brew. And it fits quite well.
We sat down with Troy Metzler the man with the vision behind the restaurant. According to him, the Brickhouse had been in the works for two years before they opened February 1, 2015.
“It’s just been figuring out the feel of the place,” Troy said “an old place like this, an old gastropub-y type place. And then you get the right chef in and he really builds out that menu. I’ve been in restaurants since I was four, when my parents opened the first ‘Julie’s Cafe’ in 1994. I never really left the business. I went to college, got an accounting degree and then came back and worked in the family business, and eventually into ownership.”
The business, named after his mother who passed away eight years ago, is now a partnership between Troy and his father.
“This one is kinda’ my baby,” Troy said “Brickhouse has been my vision for a while. We really saw a need for a gourmet burger, or a different burger place with a craft beer complement to it. There’s not a lot in Green Bay as far as the ‘craft burger – craft beer’ combination. We did a lot of research in Chicago because there are a lot of great burger and craft beer places there. And we really loved the concept, and we brought it here and made it our own.”
While just next door ‘Nicolet’ does great breakfast business, 500 Grant Street was acquired with another purpose.
“You know, it’s kind of what’s old is new,” Troy said. “The building is 103 years old, built in 1912. So we took the old building and made it new again. And that’s what we did with the burgers, since burgers have been around forever, we took them and did some different things with them. Our burgers are made with locally-sourced meat. It’s all local steer: from Ottawa to Luxemberg. Our buns are all baked fresh locally. And all of our cheeses are Wisconsin cheeses, as local as we can get them. But it’s still so simple. It’s beer and burgers.”
Troy: All of our burgers are on brioche buns, so they have the heft to them to hold all of our toppings. The M.O. of our burgers is, kinda get-in-there and eat em, messy-style burger, you know. The burgers are two beef patties that are three ounces a piece, equaling around a third of a pound burger split between two patties.
We offer a burger of the month that our chef comes up with. The barbecue pulled pork was our number one selling burger of the month. It’s basically one beef patty with pulled pork on it, and coleslaw.
The Baad Boy was also one of our burgers of the month. We really wanted to bring in another style of patty, with lamb, to give a little bit different feel. And again the Mac-N-Cheezy was also one of those [listed as one beef patty served with BBQ dipped house-made bacon, pan fried cheddar Mac-n-Cheese with lettuce and tomato].
You can also build-your own burger. You can go kinda crazy on this. You get one cheese and then you can do up to six toppings. We do a pork belly on it, which is amazing. I told you, we try to do everything in house. We literally make our bacon in house.
The Scene: Do you have a smokehouse in here?
Troy: We don’t smoke it actually. It’s a cured bacon. So we cure it for four days. We marinate it for another three days. Then we bake it off, marinate it another day and slice it. It really is unique, not like anything that you’ve ever had. That’s going to be on a lot of different things.
We have out bacon cheeseburger, which seems traditional, but has our house made bacon and our chipotle mayo, which gives it a little bit of heat. We dip our bacon in barbecue sauce in our Mac-N-Cheezy. So taking our barbecue, which is our house made chipotle barbecue, we dip our house-made bacon in there and it goes into our Mac-N-Cheezy burger. And with our house made bacon we come and make our pork belly off of that as well. So we take some of our larger chunks off of that and make our pork belly, which also goes on some of our burgers. Build your own specifically.
The Scene: What can you tell us about the beer side of things?
Troy: There are four craft breweries in Green Bay right now. Titletown Brewing, Hinterland, Badger State Brewing, and Stillmank.
So, Badger State is near the Lambeau Field area, and Stillmank is on the east side of Green Bay. And we have a great relationships with them.
And then there’s Ahnapee in Algoma, some from central Wisconsin, Three Sheeps in Sheboygan…
Beer has been around for a long time, but craft beer is just exploding. We just have a great staff that has a passion for draft beer as well. We try to have people understand, even at the basic level of what beer and flavors [match]. If someone is coming in for a certain kind of beer, our staff can direct them.
We have 20 tap handles and our beer lineup is always changing, which is fun for our customers. It goes along with the theme of our burgers always changing. Our burger of the month, grilled cheese, poutine, different beer. So it’s always something different and new when you come in as a regular.
The Scene: I get the beer and the burgers, but where does the poutine come into this?
Troy: It’s a Canadian dish. It’s fries, fried cheese curds and gravy. We take our cheese curds: we break them apart. Our smaller curds go into a poutine. We have a classic poutine and then a poutine of the month. We’ve done everything from a pulled pork poutine to a breakfast poutine with sausage and bacon in sausage gravy.
And then we brought that through to our desserts. We do a fried Kit Kat. A chocolate-caramel marshmallow ganache, which is the gravy, the fried Kit Kats, and a seasonal fruit.
The Scene: So It’s definitely a comfort food.
Troy: That’s exactly what it is. We brought it to the forefront. You know there are only a few places right now in Green Bay that serve poutine, and we were one of the first. It’s a growing item.
The Scene: You’ve been open since spring, have you made any menu changes?
Troy: This is our second menu now. We expanded on the burgers side of things. That’s what we are really and truly focusing on. We hang our hat on our burgers.
We also have our grilled cheese of the month. We do something different every month with that and then we have our seasonal vegetable. We try to get those healthy options. We really do try to accommodate the health, the gluten free. All of our burgers can be subbed with chicken, portobello or turkey-burger.
All of our sauces are in-house. Our chef really works that angle well. All of our burgers come with fries, but the ‘upgrading shareables’ here are pretty unique, whether it’s our white truffle fries, which you just don’t find around here. They’re pretty popular in Chicago with a lot of burger joints. Or our garlic parm fries, which are amazing.
Chef David’s November Specials
Burger: Five Peppercorn
Chef David: We’re doing a five peppercorn burger where we bring in peppercorns from around the world, and make our own blend.
The Scene: What differentiates the standard peppercorn from the specialized options?
David: What you find in a grocery store is a variation from India where they call it tellicherry. That’s the black peppercorn that most people are used to seeing. Every peppercorn has a little bit different flavor. But the top 20 percent of the tellicherry’s are actually left on the vine longer. Not as spicy, they have a stronger woody flavor. But other peppercorns, depending on where they are in the region, have significantly either more woody, more fruity, or more spicy flavor. And we’re going to make our own blend with those five different kinds of environments. Where it’s going to have… in our case it will be a little bit more mild, with a much stronger woody and fruit flavor.
The Scene: Could you go a bit deeper into what you mean by fruity?
David: When you eat pineapple and you get that little bit of spice to it, that just hint of acid that is hard to distinguish. That’s what I’m talking about. You’ll get that same sort of fruity nature out of that. If you were to eat a grape, that same sort of fruity nature comes out of it too. It will have that same type of tannin type nature. Which is why a lot of times people pair pepper with wines, because of that tannin natural mixture.
Poutine: Moule’s and Frites
David: It’s going to be moule’s and frites. Which is mussels and frites, which is just another word for fries. And we’re going to be doing that with a roasted poblano sauce, as a dipping sauce for the mussels and frites. Poblanos are a large pepper, a little more mild than a habanero or a jalapeno. Jalapeno’s have more of that coriander/cumin flavor to them. Poblanos tend to be a little bit sweeter and a little bit more on the pepper flavor than that kind of coriander/cumin. I think when you eat a habanero or a jalapeno most people don’t pick that up, but if you really stop and you ate some coriander and cumin and tried a jalepeno you’d say, yeah I get that. If you eat a poblano, a poblano has a milder pepper flavor. So we’re going to roast it and we’ll puree it with a little bit of garlic, some dark chili powder, some honey and probably a little bit of lemon.
The Packer Backer Special was a tower of savory goodness that came with a choice of 3 beers and a half order of Brickhouse’s fried cheese curds. The burger was massive, containing 3 beef patties, one brat patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, Swiss, Gouda, Cheddar and Muenster. If you seek to tackle this particular challenge you’d best come hungry, or be prepared to take home some leftovers. The result was delicious, combining heaped cheese and meats with masterfully caramelized onions, and Brickhouse’s house-made bacon, so good it was hard not to pull it out and eat it separately. The side of hand battered cheese curds tasted more like a pastry than fair food, and were well complemented by the tangy cream and tomato marinara.
The heat was somewhat intimidating, with a layer of sriracha aioli and jalapeno poppers, but the meat and carbs on display did nicely to dampen the heat to a pleasurable dull roar. The fries that were served with it are perhaps best described as the platonic ideal of that powdered cheese seasoning you see on things everywhere. This was the real stuff, and the white goodness sprinkled over the top of these made dipping them in the cheese curd’s marinara sauce that much better. The burgers were served with Badger State Brewing Company’s On Wisconsin Red Ale. The 22 IBU the bartender pegged it at might have typically been a bit on the bitter side for a wussy malt fiend like me, but they calculated well. It was excellent with the two burgers.