A shout out today to Carol Peterson who e-mailed me (firstname.lastname@example.org) last year telling me that I needed to try a little burger joint outside of Green Bay - Joe Rouer's Bar. "It's the best burger I've ever had. It's tough to find, but it's worth it once you get there." On a recent trip to the Green Bay area, I drove the 20 miles (or so) out of town to have a burger at Joe Rouer's Bar.
Former dairy farmer Joe Rouer bought what was a combination bar and feed mill back in the early 1950's, taking possession and opening the doors on December 5, 1952. Legend has it that a teacher was visiting a nearby school and asked the school's principal where to get something to eat for lunch. The school principal suggested the bar down the road that Joe Rouer had just bought. The teacher walked in and asked about getting some food. Rouer's wife, Helen, was out running errands and Rouer, himself, had never cooked before. He turned on the electric flat top grill and cooked the teacher a burger. It would be the first of thousands and thousands of burgers Joe would grill up.
That electric flat top grill even survived a devastating fire in 1990. The 86-year-old building received extensive damage from an electrical fire and Rouer - who was just three years younger than the building - considered retiring. However, he ended up building a newer and bigger place back from the corner lot where the original Joe Rouer's stood. Joe Rouer died in 2003 at the age of 95, a year after he celebrated 50 years of being in business.
Long-time locals say that the person that kept the place going all those years before the fire was Helen Rouer. Helen was quite the character, a rambunctious lady who had a great personality and who loved her shots of Kessler whiskey. Helen died in 1985 and their grandson, Michael Bultman, stepped in to help run the day-to-day operation when Joe's health began to fail in the years after that.
I programmed my GPS for the address of Joe Rouer's Bar and it showed a Luxemburg, WI address. But as I drove toward Joe Rouer's a couple miles off of Wisconsin State Highway 57, I came up to a small unincorporated village of Duvall. At the northeast corner of the intersection was Joe Rouer's Bar. (see map)
Joe Rouer's Bar is a clean establishment, with a lot of natural light coming in from the many windows. A number of tables and chairs are placed throughout the dining room on top of a brick floor. The oblong bar is the centerpiece of the dining area. A game room with more tables is located off to the side.
I took a seat at the bar and the guy behind the bar came over to greet me. He placed a table top menu in front of me and asked me what I wanted to drink. I saw that they had Point Amber Classic on tap. It had been a while since I had a Point Amber Classic and I ordered one of those. The first sip told me why I hadn't had one in a long time - it was bitter. But subsequent gulps began to taste better.
There's not much on the menu at Joe Rouer's Bar - burgers, fish or grilled chicken sandwiches, chicken wings, fries, onion petals, soups and a handful of other appetizers. I asked the guy behind the bar how big the burgers were and he said, "Well, they're thin and flat, but big. Bigger than the bun that we put 'em on." I asked him if I should get a single or a double and he said, "Most guys get the double. It's about a half-pound." Against my better judgement, I got a double cheese burger. He asked me if I wanted fried onions or raw onions on it. I like the taste of fried onions, but my stomach doesn't like them.
The burger was presented to me on a small plate with a small bowl of dill pickles. The cheddar cheese was oozing on the top of the top patty. Mike Bultman gets his ground beef fresh each day from Marchant's in nearby Brussels, WI and hand-patties each burger before cooking.
This was a serious burger. The juice coming off the burger as it was sitting there was just amazing. A thin slice of onion stuck to the underside of the top bun. Putting some pickles, ketchup and mustard on the burger, I took my first bite of a Joe Rouer burger.
And it was... AWESOME!!! Oh, my GOD!!! It was a KILLER burger! The zest from the old flat top grill just added to the great taste of the burger. It was juicy with such a great flavor. It was one of those burgers where I was sincerely unhappy when I took the last bite.
The bill came to about $14 bucks before tip for the double cheeseburger and two beers. And they do take credit cards at Joe Rouer's. It was simply an outstanding burger at a great price.
I'm not going to do a Top Ten list of my all-time favorite burgers any longer. I'm starting to find lists on blogs are tedious, subjective and somewhat boring. But if I were to do a Top Ten list, Joe Rouer's would be firmly in the top three of burgers I've ever had. Heck, it could even be the best burger I've ever had. It was just exceptional. I will definitely be back to Joe Rouer's. Like Carol told me, it's tough to find, but worth the trip.
(Note - The address for Joe Rouer's Bar is 1098 County Road X, not County Road A as listed on Urbanspoon.)