by Martha Bayne
For reasons due as much to geography as anything else, I usually make a beeline for the Twisted Spoke when I'm craving a fistful of ground beef on a bun -- and a Fatboy (medium rare, swiss, grilled onions, no ketchup) rarely fails to satisfy. But after an excursion to Kuma's Corner last week, I gotta say that if I ever move to Logan Square I'll be able to forget the Spoke in a heartbeat. Kuma's serves whopping hunks of juicy, lightly seasoned meat on delicious, chewy pretzel rolls in 15 metal-themed iterations (the Motorhead, the Mastodon, etc), each also available as a chicken sandwich or veggie burger. My Iron Maiden burger, topped with a sinus-clearing load of cherry peppers, chipotle mayo, and pepper jack, was filling yet oddly clean-tasting-- refreshing, even, for meat. It was so good I almost forgave the kitchen for running out of avocado.
The menu's been completely revamped since Kuma's opened about a year and a half ago (a new Reader Restaurant Finder capsule is pending). There's also a make-your-own mac 'n' cheese option and appetizers like mussels and Kobe beef sliders, in addition to a sweet beer list ($2 off all Belgians on Thursday nights). And while the place may strive for the same sort of rock 'n' roll "edge" as the Einhorn brothers' joints, the whole package is a lot less assaultive. Not to mention less porny. Next time I'm trying the Slayer: a pile of fries topped with a half-pound burger plus chili, cherry peppers, andouille sausage, onions, jack cheese, "and anger."