Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kuma's Corner - desperately looking for the perfect burger

After two negative reviews (about De Cero and Nightwood), I feel I need to write about something positive. Enough with the negativity. Onto a positive thought: a burger.

The search of the perfect Burger and Steak (with capital letter, as a sign of my complete respect and devotion) is a Chicago's official pastime. No matter who you speak to, you will hear different views: the best burger is the one in X, no, this is BS, the perfect burger is Y. You gotta be kidding me, the perfect burger is Z: X and Y are rubbish.

You get the picture. But no matter the differences, a couple of names will always come up in the conversation for the best burger. Kuma's Corner is one of these, so I decided to try it. And I can say I'm pretty meticulous in my search for the Perfect Burger. I have been doing my best in trying and form an opinion of my own, by eating in as many steakhouses and burger joints as possible. My cholesterol level may suffer from it, but hey, I like living dangerously.

But let's talk about Kuma's Burger. Kuma's is one of these iconic places quintessentially Chicago that you need to try at least once. It is at the same time the classic neighborhood joint, where the local crowd would go during the week, and the cool place to go for a burger with gigantic lines to get a table.

All the burgers have names of heavy metal bands (take a peak here), and heavy metal music is played loud in the bar.

The good
Well, the burgers are TO DIE FOR. They are not the best burgers I ever had in Chicago (I will get back to this), but man, are they PHENOMENAL. The patty is thick, juicy and it was cooked to perfection. The bun - a pretzel bun, YUM! - was again just perfect. The height of the beast, including all the seasoning, was enormous. Get ready to disjoint your jaw to bite it: it is worth it, and your taste buds will thank you.

I went there on a school night with a friend: I got the Iron Maiden (avocado, cherry peppers, pepper jack and chipotle mayo) and Fabrizio got the Lear of the Minotaur (caramelized onions, pancetta, brie, bourbon soaked pear). Both of us got waffle fries. By the end of the meal, we were very satisfied.

When I had finished my burger, I was very full but nonetheless I started angrily looking at those girls around us who had only eaten half of the tasty beast, throwing the rest. I would have eaten those as well. This is how good the burger is.

The bad
The bad has nothing to do with the food. And that's a very positive thing.

Everybody had warned me that the real bad part of the experience is the wait. Even on a school night, we had to wait 45 minutes before getting a seat. And it wasn't even a table, but a place at the bar, which was actually even better. The problem is that the seats at the bar are on a first come-first served basis. So what happens is that even if you get there earlier than somebody else, if that somebody else is standing close to a guy who leaves the bar, he will be able to seat before you. So you get annoyed (at least I get annoyed).

Then there is the music. I had been forewarned: heavy metal, loud. So I was kind of prepared. Kind of. Because the music is VERY loud. As in "it will make you deaf" (good thing is, I am already half deaf). And to top it all off the moment in which we stepped in, the music went from the "melodic" (not sure it is called this way) heavy metal to the Scandinavian type (if I am wrong with the terms, blame Fabrizio: he used to play in a heavy metal band, and he was the one teaching me...). You don't know what this sounds like? Well, picture a guy screaming something with a crass voice, with no melody whatsoever. Loud. Very loud.

I can't say the music was bad. But I will say that I got out of the place after two hours with my head aching and my good ear not feeling very good.

A message to the owner: keep it up. Maybe just turn down the volume a tad. Just a tad...will you?

Overall score: 4 stars out of five

2900 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 604 8769


Fabrizio Cariani said...

You misremember the terminology, but got the concepts more or less right :D

This is the sort of stuff they were playing:


For those who understand Italian, there is a song by Elio e Le Storie Tese that makes fun of the band names in this genre (all of their names are real):


Tuscan foodie in America said...

Thank you Fabrizio! Elio e le Storie Tese are great, as usual. I have all their CDs...

Tuscan foodie in America said...

by the way, I would disagree on one point though: the Carcass' song you put a link to is way more melodic of the stuff they were playing that night. And that says it all...

art and chel said...

Ironically, I would have to say that the best "tailored" burger, which is the type of burger served by Kuma's, that I have had in a long time, was from Nightwood! By tailored I mean hand formed patty, 8-10oz., neatly stacked layers of "gourmet" ingredients and quality bread. I haven't actually eaten a Kuma's burger but I have obviously heard a lot about it. I know what Kuma's has--the type of meat, the type of bun, the type of ingredients, the type of fries, method of cooking. If you like Kuma's I'd bet that you'd like Nightwood's because each of those components is of a "different" quality to put it in a Democratic sort of way. I don't know, you may just have to give NW a second chance now ;-) Nightwood burger = $13 Kuma's burger = $10-$13

Tuscan foodie in America said...

Hi Art, and welcome! Mmm, your comment about NW makes me see the whole thing in a different perspective. I personally believe that if a restaurant can make a very good burger, this doesn't necessarily mean that the rest of its food is good. And the opposite is also true: serving delicious dishes does not guarantee that you will serve a very good burger.

So I do believe that what you say about the burger at Nightwood may be true.

Who knows: maybe this summer I will be back to give it a try on their patio...

Anonymous said...

Are you really asking them to turn their music down?

You choose to write about Kuma, but instead of discussing what the Chef is actually doing, you choose to complain about the music and wait?

You must not care much about your own credibility.

Tuscan foodie in America said...

Irony is lost on some, I see.

As for my credibility, you are right: I don't take myself too seriously. I think life is better lived this way. But that's just me.

cnewman71 said...

They are not the best burgers I ever had in Chicago (I will get back to this) ...

But you never got back to it!

Tuscan foodie in America said...

Hello cnewman71, and welcome!

Yes, I know: I meant to come back on this in a different post...Where did YOU eat your best burger in Chicago?


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