Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Kuma's Corner

Last Saturday (over a week ago) three of my my roommates and I accompanied the Filipino couple and the WASP couple out to dinner. With eight of us, getting a table with no reservation could have proven difficult. But we went to Kuma's Corner, a haven of good food and good beer located conveniently at the edge of Logan Square in Chicago. For the second time in less than six weeks, Kuma's was able to seat a large-ish group on Saturday night without much of a wait. Very cool.

But the easy seating isn't what brought me back here for the third time since discovering it in November. Why do we like it? Burgers. Beer. Mac & Cheese. Mussels. The first two times we were there, the menu included a few entrees, a Mac & Cheese section where you pick what toppings to add, a burger and sandwich section, and salad and appetizer sections. They recently revamped their menu, getting rid of the entrees (except as specials), and expanding the burger section to encompass almost its entire panel of the menu.

All three times I've gone, I've had a burger. It's not a hard decision for me. I'm pretty sure someone takes the time to pat out these patties by hand, and they use very good beef. Add to that the fact that all of the burgers and sandwiches are served on a pretzel roll, my all time favorite burger vehicle, and I'm afraid I may never try anything else there. The first time, I purchased the Kuma burger. Going by the Boss's rule of dining that says any dish named after the restaurant has to be good, the Kuma didn't disappoint. It's your basic perfect beef patty, half a pound, on a pretzel roll, it's topped with bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg. I'm not a huge fried egg fan at breakfast time, but just picture this: you take delivery of your Kuma, sitting with the top of the roll off to the side, a strangely nice tomato slice for winter time nestled with some nice green leaf lettuce and raw onions, waiting to be placed atop the burger if you desire. The burger has the cheese and bacon, with the egg sunny-side-up perched on top. Put on whatever vegetable toppings you desire, then gently push the roll top onto this mass of goodness. When the yolk breaks, it makes this beautiful sauce for the deliciousness underneath. Trust me, you want to try it.

The second time there I had the Kaijo. Bacon. Blue Cheese. "Frizzled" onions. Yeah, it was good. Not as word worthy as the Kuma. But really good. The third time I had the Mayhem burger. Same pretzel roll, same perfectly cooked burger (I get mine cooked medium, by the way), topped with pepper-jack cheese, giardinera mayo, pancetta, and fresh slice jalepenos (as opposed to pickled canned jalepenos). Yeah, guess what? It was pretty tasty. The Mayhem burger is pictured above.

The mac and cheese picture is with peas and proscuitto. The hand holding the fork belongs to the moving-to-China roommate. I was able to try the Mac & Cheese pictured, and it's pretty good. He's ordered it twice, so it couldn't be bad.

I am not a big fan of mussels. Or any bi-valve mollusk, really. But RER and EA love them, so I was able to give them a try. I still don't like the texture, and that black-brown ring around the edge is a little weird, but they were sure tasty. Could be the ale-butter-chili broth that they are swimming in.

The beer list is pretty good. Not huge, but all of the beers are interesting. The selection of bottles is better than the draft selection, but it's all pretty good. They have one night with all Belgian beers on sale. Saturdays they discount all of their whiskey.

It's a very casual place, the waitstaff and bartenders are very friendly, and the kitchen crew really knows what they're doing. It's not haute cuisine, but who wants that? Go for good food and good beer.

Kuma's Corner
2900 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicgao, IL 60618
Ph. 773.604.8769

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