Monday, July 27, 2009

Heavy Metal Burgers

Kuma’s Corner
2900 W Belmont Ave
(between Francisco Ave & Richmond St)
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 604-8769

Heavy Metal Burgers

With my few hours left to enjoy Chicago waning (and the Chicago dog having been given more than a run for it’s money), I turned my attention to another food that has a huge place in my heart. The Burger.

From early scouting reports I heard, not unlike Hot Doug’s, there WILL be a line. Having learned my lesson (sort of), I knew what to expect in the waiting game. Although my body was crying “salad, please!”, my heart was screaming “ground beef!” Kuma’s corner is a Heavy Metal Burger Bar. Yes, please.

From the outside, it looks as though it could be any other neighborhood dive bar on any given street corner in Chicago (they are EVERYWHERE); but by the looks of the menu, I knew I had come to the right place.

The line is chaos, and as we sat outside sipping iced coffee, unsure of weather we should be wearing tank tops or parkas (thanks Chicago weather), it was unclear as to whether we were actually on the list. The wait is more of a ‘mulling about on the street corner’ than the rigid ‘stand and deliver’ line of Hot Doug’s. The entertainment of the afternoon was, again (without fail), full of abundant people watching - the highlight was the guy who really wanted an awesome burger and the nagging girlfriend who just wouldn’t stop. No wonder the poor guy was looking to find happiness on a pretzel roll. More on that to come (the roll that is, what do I look like Perez Hilton?). After a solid hour and a half wait, we were seated.

We were lucky enough to be seated outside, as the music inside is really loud. Sigh, maybe I am getting old, but when the music is so loud that I can’t hear the people I am with, and it is lunch-time, I prefer to sit outside. Anyway, the beer selection is extensive, consisting of a large number of micro brews (and PBR, I mean it IS a metal bar), we grabbed an IPA and looked at the menu.

Make your own mac and cheese? Incredible. Only, the Polish in me inquired as to how I would be cooking such a concoction. A more apt description might be: “add 2 ingredients to our insanely, pathetically unhealthy mac and cheese bowl.” Done and done. We decided on prosciutto and peas. There were about a dozen choices, and although (in theory) I wanted meat on meat, the peas added a tasty green touch. This bowl of mac and cheese was to die for. $10, and we ate about 2/3 of it between 3 HUNGRY people who have been waiting for 2 hours to eat. They really mix the ingredients well, and sprinkle the top with chopped scallions. The peas delivered a nice fresh snap to each bite, while the chunks, not slices, of fried prosciutto supplied the salty, cured-meat taste I was craving. The combo blended perfectly together and I would have gladly finished the whole bowl. That is, if the 4 pounds of cheese I had just consumed didn’t object.

Now it was time for the main event. There are enough burger choices from which to choose; even if I lived in Chi-town, I would probably never get to try them all. Not to mention, I would also have to fork over at least 40 hours of waiting in line (at 2 hours a burger average). I have a real tough time deciding what I am going to eat when I go places, because I want to make sure to try the most delicious thing on the menu. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. I decided to go with the Lair of the Minotaur. Winner! I was obviously swayed by the words “bourbon soaked pears and pancetta,” however, “caramelized onion and brie” are no slouch when it comes to toppings. This burger was amazing. The sweet and smoky flavor in the onions and the complex sweet & bitter bourbon flavor of the pears was out of this world. The salty pancetta and creamy brie combination led to a burger topping flavor explosion - to the likes of which I had never tasted!

My dining associates picked two other awfully delicious burgers. The Dark Throne, which was chipotle peppers, goat cheese and fresh pico de gallo. The chipotle peppers were so smoky, spicy and saucy that it was like eating at an inland Mexican burger fiesta. The toppings blended seamlessly well together, and the goat cheese and pico helped sooth that fire! Last, but not least, the Iron Maiden. The Iron Maiden had cherry peppers, pepper jack cheese, avocado, and chipotle mayo. It was no joke, unlike its namesake. Zing! They also make their own waffle fries and potato chips, and they come with your burgers. Served with the waffle fries? Homemade ketchup! Does it get any better than this? I could have taken the easy way out and ordered The Slayer, which reads: “Pile of fries topped with a ½ lb. Burger, Chili, Cherry Peppers, Andouille, Onions, Jack Cheese, and Anger.” Ha. Instead, I decided to go with the local Chicago band, and I am sure glad that I did.

My only complaint is that our burgers were overcooked. Not burnt, but if the whole table orders medium rare and are all looking for that coveted-pink-inside, to no avail, they are over-done. I let it slide because they were still juicy and delicious. So the next time you find yourself in Chicago, and you need a Metal/burger fix, look no further. Just make sure you have time to wait it out.

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