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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Archive for the ‘Burgers’ Category

Monday, August 20, 2012 @ 06:08 AM

003Now that Adam and I are parents and time is no longer something that flows like wine (ummm….wine!), we’ve decided to cut down Pop Culture Cuisine to be more streamlined.  We will still be bringing great reviews of some of the most pop culture worthy restaurants in the country, we are just going to focus more on the major points of the review (i.e., Signature Dish, Taste, Ambiance, Price, and Service).  There will be some backstory, but we want to make sure we get the the meat and potatoes of what makes this restaurant worthy or our pop culture interest and if it’s worth the hype.

So…with out further ado…this week I introduce you to the new simpler reviews of PCC with our visit to Kuma’s Corner in Chicago.  To get a better idea of this place, take a look at the videos below of when Guy Fieri visited for Food Network’s “Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives” and when it was featured on Cooking Channel’s “Unique Eats”…

 

 

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqtePe5dPrk

 

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16v3w9lCsYk

 

This was actually our second attempt to go to the popular Chicago burger bar, being that the first time the wait was 3-4 hours!  So, the next time around we decided to show up 30 minutes before they opened to assure us a spot…and we STILL had to wait in a line! Smile 

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SIGNATURE DISH: Burgers are the name of the game at Kuma’s, but not just any ol’ burger. These burgers are “amped” up to be just as LOUD as the bar’s Heavy Metal theme, which they are true to all the way down to the menu. They do have some other things on the menu (like the ingenious ‘Make Your own Mac & Cheese!), but at their core they are a hard core burger joint.

 

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TASTE: Ok…burgers are one of those foods that is hard to be Amazing! It is either “ya…that’s pretty good” or “ehhh.” What I mean is there isn’t much room between bad and good…kinda like pizza. That being said…Kuma’s is AMAZING!!! Probably one of the best burger’s I’ve ever had. It’s juicy and flavorful and most of all memorable. If I lived in Chicago, this would be the only place I’d want to go for a burger…it’s that good. Plus, all the burgers come on pretzel roll which is probably why Kuma’s has been named the “Best Burger in Chicago!” Really…you gotta have one, and you’ll agree this burger is foodie bliss.

 

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AMBIANCE:  Remember…Kuma’s Corner is a bar fashioned after the music of Heavy Metal, and while heavy metal really isn’t my cup of tea normally, there is something about it that really works and lends itself to the whole experience at Kuma’s.  While the metal really adds to the whole HARD CORE vibe, it also still has that small cramped old school feeling that is so comforting and familiar in like every bar in Chicago.

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SERVICE: This place is so popular and packed that the staff is working their butt off!  Although we had some forethought and got in line super early so we would ensure ourselves a spot right when they opened, they were literally packed to the gills within moment of opening that door.  That being said, although they were instantly busy and packed, our waitress was as attentive as she could be and friendly, a lot friendlier than I was expecting giving the whole vibe of the place…, yeah I am judgy.  She even was patient as we were holding a table and waiting for our friends Jenn & Bob to join us.  Overall…great servcie.

 

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PRICE: While these burgers are a little on the pricey side (most priced around $13), they pack a whole lot of fun and fancy ingredients on a bun and you will definitely not be hungry afterwards…that is if you can finish it!  So although maybe more than your local drive-in or fast food joint, considering these burgers have a lot going on and are pretty DARN good, I will overlook the price.

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So while we have tried our fair share of burgers over the course of the last few years, this certainly ranks up there with some of the best EVVA.  I mean yes, a burger is a burger is a burger, but cook it right, throw some outstanding ingredients on, complete its flavor profile with the wonderfulness of a pretzel bun and convince Katie that no burger is now complete without egg, and you have yourselves a true winner in my book.  I’m so glad to say we were finally able to try Kuma’s Corner and I happily give it 4 1/2 ‘Little Piggies.’

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Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 08:03 PM

020We have reviewed a fair amount of burger joints in the past 2 years, but something never gets old in trying new ones. Still, it’s often hard to compare burgers to one another; whereas a good burger is simply good…it’s hard for one to go above and beyond into greatness. Now, we do have a standout winner in the great category, one which we will likely continue to stack all the others against. It’s not to say we still won’t come across good burgers, but to win out as the best it has to beat that particular experience.

All that being said…, we will always try another and that is why we happily added this next joint into the lineup; and I was especially excited because at the time I was almost 8 months pregnant and burgers were one of those things that always sounded good to me! Lucky for me, we happened to plan a trip to Detroit towards the end of my pregnancy and figured that would be as good a time as any to stop through Ann Arbor and pay a visit to Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger, a very popular burger joint for over 50 years among locals, especially University of Michigan students (You may recognize it from Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-In’s, and Dives” and/or The Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food”).

 

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVTcAkfuRFw

 

We were glad that we happened to visit during the summer months, because this joint is known to have quite a wait on most days due to its popularity among students. So when we arrived we were happy to be able to walk right in, which I especially appreciated as a hungry pregnant lady. Winking smile Plus, due to all their ordering rules, it helped us newbies not hold up other hungry patrons with our ignorance.

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What makes Blimpy Burger so unique is how many patties people put down at a time. Their patties are quite small so their standard double is only about a 1/4 pound, so many people go in and order quite a few patties. I went with their smallest burger (the double) with cheddar and grilled onions, while Adam ordered the quint, or 5 patties…, still only about a 1/2 a pound. It is clear now how although a crazy amount, I can see how some people order 20 patties at a time (for a competitions sake of course). We also decided on both an order of onion rings and their fries…you know…for the reviews sake! Smile

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Because they were not busy at all, our food was ready by about the time we got to the cash to pay from the on-site ATM and we dug in. Although neither of us were too excited about either the fries or rings, we were both pleasantly surprised with just how juicy and tasty those tiny pattied burgers were. As Jules Winnfield would say, (Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction) “Mmm-mmmm…that is a tasty burger!

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Neither of us had a problem finishing off our burgers, which is always a good indicator that we enjoyed it; and while I would say we have still yet to surpass the best burger experience we have had, Krazy Jim’s did not disappoint.

SIGNATURE DISH: It’s called ‘Krazy Jim’s Blimpy BURGER!’ While they do have a few other sandwich options on their menu, burgers are the main attraction for sure and with some people ordering as many as 10-15 patties at a time, it’s the smaller patties in large quantities that make them so unique.

TASTE: Not the best burger I’ve ever had, but still very tasty and certainly did the job. Also, while their patties are small, they are still plenty juicy and the cheese gets super melty and yummy. Add some grilled onions into the mix and you have a winner in my book!

AMBIANCE: It has a wonderful old school campus joint feel to it, something I am always nostalgic for; and while I figured this joint was small, television made it look MUCH bigger than reality. We were sort of shocked with just how small this place is and it is hard to imagine how they cram so many students and locals alike in here on a day to day basis. I’m just glad we visited at a down time and weren’t crammed.

PRICE: The burgers range in price from $2.65 to $5.70. Add a couple of more bucks on for french fries or rings and you have a pretty good deal for a meal.

SERVICE: We were expecting a bit of “rush” when it came to service since the television spots we had seen seemed to showcase the fact that you better know what you want when you step to the counter. Luckily we didn’t encounter too much of a hassle since at that moment we were the only ones in line. I appreciated the chef walking us through the process and asking us what we wanted, since it was pretty clear we weren’t from around those parts. Still, make sure you know what you want and how to order. Adam accidently ordered out of order and he was quickly corrected!

Overall, we had a really fun lunch experience with a tasty burger bonus. I can definitely see why U of M students and alumni swear by it. I could for sure go for a double or triple (heck even a quint!) from time to time. So while not a ‘Quint’ on the Piggies…I still award them 3 ½ ‘Little Piggies’

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 @ 07:01 AM

148This week’s post is a little out of the ordinary for what my average readers are used to, and some may even say doesn’t fit. However, if we are talking about the essence of ‘Pop Culture’ cuisine, then this next spot it more than worthy because it started a culinary revolution that transformed the way we eat…regardless of whether or not you’re “one of theirs.” That’s right folks…I’m referring to White Castle, the 1st restaurant to be credited with the moniker of “fast food.”

So…is fast food ‘pop culture’ worthy? In most cases I would say no, although they are fairly synonymous with our American culture. Still, why I’ve chosen to feature THIS chain is because it’s the 1st and started a whole new genre of food. That’s pretty famous if you ask me!

White Castle was founded in 1921 in Kansas City, as the first fast-food hamburger chain. They were the first to sell a million and billion fast food burgers respectively, which I think is pretty impressive. They also created quite a stir with their signature 5 holes in their patty, cutting down on the time it took to cook the burger and eliminating the need to flip it over…thus the ‘fast’ part.

While I would hardly call White Castle a monumental culinary discovery, it truly did launch a revolution when it comes to the idea of serving something as American as a hamburger, economically and fast; and while that may seem pretty normal and regular by today’s standards, in 1921 this was a very new concept for food. Back in that day these “sliders” (as they were dubbed) were a measly 5 cents, and I have to believe not sold in crave cases as you can find them now. White Castle also stood out in its ability to franchise itself across the country as it gained popularity, another fairly new concept for that time.

I often find of all the fast food places, although it’s the oldest, White Castle is one of the most divisive as far as peoples’ opinions go. Even I went for many years thinking I hated White Castle even though I’d never even tried it! I’m not sure really why I thought I wouldn’t like it…but the whole concept of a slider at the time seemed sort of gross to me. But a few years ago we had to make a stop for lunch after getting home from a family trip, and since Adam’s whole family are fans, we stopped into one on the south side of Chicago. So I decided then was as good of time as any to try one…and let’s just say…I’m now “one of theirs’” So this past summer when we were passing through Indy on our way home from Louisville, and since there aren’t any in our area, we decided to fulfill the craving.

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That best thing about White Castle is the size of the burgers…the original ‘Slider; and since they are small, so you can have 1 or 2 and be satisfied without feeling stuffed. So that is just what Adam and I did, we shared a few burgers and fries. Sure…like most in the fast food world, their menu has grown to offer a variety of options. However, although I haven’t really tried many of their other items, I recommend sticking with what made them famous and created an entire menu item…the “slider.”

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However, be warned…White Castle sliders are cooked in a bath of chopped onions, which some people site as their reason for not liking them. On the other hand, this is what I love about them. I think this gives them a unique flavor you don’t find in other fast food.

In the end…sure… these aren’t a culinary masterpiece like some of the other dishes we have tried here at PCC. But they are delicious in their own right and still hold a place in history.

SIGNATURE DISH: The ‘Slider’ – a tiny burger typically consumed in 2-3 bites. It has spawned many imitators but IT is the original!

TASTE: While I might be flogged for saying so, I happen to enjoy a White Castle burger, and I would say don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. They would hardly fall into the same category as some of the “gourmet” burgers we have tried around these parts, but for cheap, easy, and tasty they sure are good!

AMBIANCE: We weren’t visiting the real deal 1st ever White Castle, which I’m sure does not even compare to the local franchise we stopped by, but it feels just about like any other fast food joint…not overly fancy, booths and tables, greasy and fluorescent! Winking smile

PRICE: While no longer 5 cents, these burgers are still nowhere near as expensive as some of their fast food counterparts have become. At less than $5 for a fill you up meal, this is very reasonable.

SERVICE: It is a bit hard to rate this seeing as we just ordered at the counter and picked up our food, but as far as fast food service goes, nothing bad…nothing too spectacular.

So feel free to disown us for including a fast food restaurant in our culinary adventures. However, know that nothing says ‘Pop Culture’ like White Castle. It started a craze that is still a major fixture in our eating habits…good or bad. Plus, the original ‘Slider’ is pretty hard to beat; and for that I award America’s 1st Fast Food Chain 3 ½ ‘Little Piggies’

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