Let me make something perfectly clear: I am not a metal head. I was never a metal head. AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" is about as metal as I get, and considering cover bands play it in the same set with Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off," I'm not sure that song even qualifies as metal anymore.
Now let me make another thing clear: You do not have to be into metal music to enjoy the headbanging burgers at the new outpost of Kuma's Corner in Schaumburg, but it doesn't hurt if you are.
Kuma's Corner1570 E. Golf Road, Schaumburg, (847) 240-1200, kumascorner.com
Cuisine: Kick-butt burgers and craft brews
Setting: Urban warehouse throbbing to metal riffs
Burgers and sandwiches: $12 to $15
Hours: 11:15 a.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday; 11:15 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday; 11:45 a.m. to midnight Sunday
Kuma's Corner burst on the scene a decade ago and quickly made its mark as one of the Windy City's early adapters of creative burgers and craft beer. TV chef Guy Fieri's visit for his "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" show cemented Kuma's popularity, and that legacy continues to attract folks from far and wide.
The new spot (and its third) opened in July at Woodfield Village Green along Golf Road. Instead of replicating Chicago's Avondale eatery with its quintessential long bar and wood booths, the Schaumburg spot plays up the metal theme, from the music screaming overhead to the tables, chairs, bar, ceiling, lighting and decor. And not just what's hanging on the walls, the decor on the servers as well. While corporate America for the most part shuns body piercings and exposed ink in the workplace, Kuma's embraces it. While they may look intimidating, the staffers we encountered were friendly and professional.
On a recent visit with my husband and two sons, I was thankful for pleasant weather that meant the beer garden was open and dry. If you plan on conversing while you eat, I recommend holding out for an outdoor table. The decibel level inside is anything but conversation-friendly. It's also not the most family-friendly spot. But that didn't stop a handful of families, some with infants in tow, from settling in for Sunday supper. There are no kids-sized burgers (smaller sandwiches are available during lunch) and the servers' T-shirts can be R-rated. Still, the lineup of Jones sodas appeals to kids of all ages.
Kuma's main attraction is its big, beefy burgers (veggie burgers available upon request) with names paying homage to metal acts from across the decades. Case in point: the Pantera (with house-made ranchero salsa, bacon and roasted poblanos), Black Sabbath (blackening spices, homemade chili, pepperjack cheese) and Slayer (a pumped up 10-ounce patty served on a bed of fries with chili, cherry peppers, caramelized onion and andouille sausage). Before ordering, make sure to check out Kuma's BOTM -- that's Burger of the Month. July's Alice Cooper topped with pineapple guacamole, black bean purée, queso fresco and pork flauta (plus a few other condiments), had me wishing our visit had come a little sooner.
That's not to say I was at all disappointed with my burger, the signature Kuma Burger. On the surface it seemed like a typical bacon cheeseburger, but the thick slabs of Applewood-smoked bacon, sharp cheddar and the fried egg on top set it apart. Yes, I was leery of the egg at first, but the yolk running over the thick slabs of bacon and onto the perfectly cooked, well-seasoned patty turned into another condiment. Luckily there were plenty of napkins. I also was pleasantly surprised by the pretzel bun. Too often these buns are too dense and compete with the hefty burger; yet Kuma's buns had the right balance of texture, flavor and structural support.
The not-quite-sinus-clearing horseradish mayo, caramelized onions, and duo of sharp cheddar and Swiss cheeses make the Neurosis burger a favorite as well. And the Pig Destroyer pleased us with its mile-high pile of made-daily slow-cooked pulled pork with a smoky sweet barbecue sauce that should be bottled. Don't look for veggie burgers on the menu, they aren't any; plant eaters have two salads from which to choose.
Because the main focus here is burgers, and filling burgers to boot, there's not much in the way of appetizers. We did enjoy the spicy, but not overly so, Buffalo chicken tenders, and my youngest made a meal out of the Build Your Own Mac & Cheese. In its pure form, it was seriously some of the best comfort food we've enjoyed in a long time. And the portion was large enough that I had some for lunch the next day. Add-ins include but are not limited to andouille, bacon, broccoli, roasted red pepper and chicken.
Kuma's doesn't offer dessert, which is fine, because you won't have room anyway.
It should also be noted that Kuma's does not take reservations. Show up, put your name on the list (don't be surprised if wait times push an hour), give them your cellphone number and then browse the nearby shops. Browse, don't shop; because when they text you, you have 5 minutes to respond. And this is not a spot where you want to lose your place in line.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.