Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Too for July, 2014
- Sauteed spinach
- Sun dried tomatoes
- Potato strings
- Fried pork tenderloin
- Blackened mashed potatoes
- Apricot mustard
- 10 oz. Beef patty
- Pretzel bun
July’s BOTM over at Kuma’s Too continued the tradition of exploring the world’s astonishing variety of all things metal, and this time the offering is the power sludge Hark, which hails all the way from Wales! As a whole, the Hark burger is this great monstrosity of vegetables cooked in all kinds of different ways, providing different kind of texture, and of course, flavor.
First things first, though. WHERE’S THE LEEK? You simply can’t have a burger themed after a Welsh burger without at least a little amount of sauteed leek on top – it is one of the country’s national symbols, as well as a staple in many traditional Welsh dishes. It just seemed like a missed opportunity, although I’m pretty sure I’m probably the only person to be miffed about it, and even then the whole rant is a bit… farfetch’d. I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry. Moving on.
Though it ain’t leek, the sauteed spinach on top was incredibly delicious and cooked to a consistency that was straddling a fine line between mushy and ever-so-slightly crispy, and complemented the less juicy sun dried tomatoes below, which was somewhat crispy. Under them were the potato strings, which took the two previous elements and added crunchiness and a distinct, earthy aftertaste not unlike the frizzled beets features on top of the Russian Circles burger Individually, the spinach, tomatoes and potato strings provided slightly subdued version of themselves, but together they functioned a lot like the tried-and-true lettuce-tomato-red onion burger topping, while also playing along the Hark’s somewhat stew-like profile. Fresh, uncooked vegetables would have been distracting. The meat portion of the meat-and-potatoes, this time in the form of fried pork tenderloin, which offers that sweetness unique to pork dishes. Very, very lean, this succulent choice of meat was very easy to bite though and enjoy, and it actually benefited a lot from the sauteed spinach, giving it an almost unmistakable Southern flair, which was only underlined and emboldened by the blackened mashed potatoes. This was a nice, buttery serving of mashed potatoes with all kinds of nice herbs, and lots and lots of butter added, giving it is a somewhat loose, and very spreadable consistency totally unlike the more common thick, creamy mashed potato which sticks to the spoon, and to the spoon you use to scoop it out of the first spoon, and to the spoon you use to scoop it out of the second spoon, ad nauseam. Very nice and garlicky, but without the usual pungency, so it only remained as a distant, but definitely noticeable note without overpowering the other ingredients, which was nice. And, last but not least, the apricot mustard. I’ll be honest here and admit that I wasn’t able to really pinpoint and identify it from the rest of the flavors, and for me it got somewhat lost and buried between the sweetness of the pork and the blackened mashed potatoes. Maybe that was the point?
Oveall, Hark was a very enjoyable meal, and it really felt like a complete Southern style dinner plate with all the fixings and the sides, bringing it very close to the pork-and-polenta Corrections House burger. Also, I totally had it with the usual side of Kuma’s amazing fries for that smorgasbord of potato awesomeness.
God Luck and Good Speed – Jeppson’s Malört & a Stiegl Grapefruit Radler Fruit Beer [2.50% ABV] ($9)
I decided to start my bovine devouring foray on that lovely July day with something completely different. I’ve talked about Kuma’s Too’s very own list of unique cocktails named after.. yes, you guessed it, metal creations. Because I thought the apricot mustard would be a more noticeable, significant part of the Hark experience, I decided to try a summer cocktail to match the fruitiness of the burger, and thus.. the God Luck and Good Speed goodness named after a Weedeater song, combining two of Chicago’s favorite libations: the infamous Jeppson’s Malört “sweetest, Swedish liquor”, and the godly grapefruit tartness of the Stiegl Radler.
I was told that they were out of Jeppson’s Malört at first, making me perhaps the first human being to be somewhat disgruntled for NOT being able to order it, but miracles DO happen, and I turned out that the bottle had been in hiding out there somewhere. That makes sense.
The cocktail is nothing too crazy. Two kinds of booze, some ice, no garnishes or unnecessary flair. The look is all Radler, with a hazy, golden color and a quickly thinning, thick, foamy lacing which is also typical for the beverage. The aroma is all grapefruit, of course, given that the Radler is essentially equal parts Stiegl Goldbräu Austrian Märzenbier [4.90% ABV] and grapefruit juice, combining sweet caramel malts with the balancing tartness of the fruit juice. Add to this a generous shot of the herbal malört with its own notes of grapefruit, and you’ve got yourself a simple, yet very, very exciting summer cocktail that is sweet and enriched with multiple layers of grapefruit tartness. It went down super smooth, and it is very drinkable. There are MANY insane Jeppson’s Malört cocktail out there trying to reinvent the wheel, but God Luck and Good Speed definitely does the trick, and I could see myself downing an unforgivable amount of it. Heck, bonus points for something that is easy to make at home as well!
The cocktail was definitely invigorating, so when I got the burger I also decided to pair it with the recommended beer, which was the Unibroue Éphémère Fruit Beer [5.50% ABV]. Personally, I thought this was a bit of a letdown. Not as a pairing, but due to the beer itself. I am simply unsure what Unibroue is trying to do with this one, but the taste of green apple was so.. distant and quick to dissipate that it felt like drinking something cheap, skunky, and stale. I’ve seen reviews claiming that the green apple is the dominant flavor, but all I could taste was yeast. The pairing, however, was alright. A classic apple and pork combo, in which I was able to taste the apple more than the apricot mustard. Combined with the burger? Sure. The last quarter of the beer when I was out of burger was less than stellar, however, and a definite miss for me. Different strokes for different folks, though. Maybe it was the contrast from the incredibly refreshing cocktail? I’ll be sure to give this one another try in the not too distant future, and revisit this review.