Art can be manifested in various mediums. While paintings and sculptures can be found all over the world from the beginning of humanity, music has a special place in the collective soul of mankind. It can reflect a gamut of emotions, cultures, and innovations in technology (or hatred of said technology). An eatery in Chicago called Kuma’s Corner (Kuma means “bear” in Japanese) manages to fuse metal music culture with a menu focused exclusively on creatively named and constructed burgers. What could be better than that?
Now, I’m not a huge fan of death metal or really heavy rock music outside of listening to it on my workout mix, so I was curious to see why so many people kept on raving about their burgers even though they seemed like the last people to be headbanging or howling along with the gutteral lead singers. The exterior looked pleasant enough, but as soon as I walked in, I was greeted with a wall of people and fierce chords being pumped out of the speakers overhead. I was surprised though since I heard from friends that the music was turned up to 11, but I didn’t find that to be the case. Since I was dining alone, I was immediately seated at the bar, but I’d recommend bracing yourself for a wait if you’re going there around lunchtime. The bartender along with every other employee there was friendly and covered in tattoos. Not only did the artwork decorate my server’s arms, but I even found her probable inspiration all over the bathroom walls as every square inch was covered with tattoo samples. After sitting down and pouring over the burger options, I noticed that they had very creative names paying tribute to different rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Megadeath, Slayer, and Plague Bringer to name a few. Not only were the names intimidating, so were the options since they all looked so delicious. After bringing it down to two choices in my head, the Plague Bringer and the Goatsnake, I asked my bartender which she’d recommend out of all of them. Surprisingly, she said those two were her favorite. She then gave me time to think about it, and even said she’d surprise me if I couldn’t make up my mind. After some deliberation, I told her I’d take the Goatsnake ($10) along with a complimentary side of handcut fries, but I could have also picked chips or a salad instead of the fries. If you’re not feeling like a burger, they do have appetizers, salads, and sandwiches. After waiting for some time and slobbering on myself while checking out other peoples’ burgers, my burger was placed in front of me. I didn’t know where to start. It was overflowing my plate, and the guy next to me even asked me what I got since it looked so much more intense compared to his burger. Jackpot! This creation named after the doom metal group from California caught my eye because of its creative ingredients. While there was a pile of fried red onion strings on top, I’ve had that on other burgers I’ve destroyed at other restaurants. The holy trinity of ingredients that piqued my interest was the herbed goat cheese, poblano and corn relish, and Cholula lemon vinaigrette. I could see the first two elements, and the third one could only be experienced. I put my top bun on and was ready to rock my socks off. Wow! From the first bite, I knew I was dealing with a unique burger. The patty was hearty and juicy but was borderline greasy. It didn’t take away from the bold flavors that were more radical than a face-melting guitar solo. The goat cheese was plentiful and provided a strong flavor background for the rest of the star ingredients like Lars Ulrich’s drumming for Metallica. As for the corn and poblano pepper relish, it supplied a counterbalance of texture and a hint of spice that I enjoyed. Finally, there was the most outrageous yet memorable part of the burger which was the Cholula lemon vinaigrette. With every bite, my palate was awash with a spicy citrus punch that went especially well with the goat cheese that almost made it seem like they did an homage to Chicago’s saganaki legacy unintentionally. Once I demolished my main dish, I turned my attention to the fries. They were on the less crispy side which I perfer and weren’t too salty. I wasn’t sure, but I believe the ketchup had a bit of spice in it. Either way, these fries couldn’t measure up to the burger magnum opus I experienced moments before. The bartender finally saw the feeding frenzy was over, and offered me a round of applause with how thoroughly I cleaned my plate. I applaud you too, Kuma’s Corner, for your passion for creating insanely delicious burgers.
So if you’re tired of the same old burger joints that use the same old ingredients in the same old bar and grill environment, bear crawl on over to Kuma’s Corner and party on!