Bongripper, the burger

On Sunday metal-themed burger joint Kuma’s Corner announced its burger of the month for March, a tribute to Chicago doom four-piece Bongripper. My B Side feature on the band had gone to bed before I heard, so like any curious journalist who consumes food roughly three times a day would do, I made my way to Avondale to try the Bongripper.

A burger at Kuma’s is a little like a Thanksgiving meal, except heaped onto a bun—it’s a mound of meat and sides, and eating one at a certain time can knock you out cold for hours. The Bongripper is no exception. It’s made with ten ounces of beef, topped with an Italian sausage split down the middle and laid out like a second hamburger patty—and adorning that are Bolognese sauce, smoked provolone cheese, basil, and fresh garlic. It’s massive and imposing, kind of like a Bongripper song.

I’d originally intended to keep track of the time it would take me to finish this monstrous meal, partly so I could compare it with the length of a Bongripper set—if my joke with bassist Ron Petzke about joining the band “on sandwich” ever plays out, I’ll need to make sure I can slow down to pace them. I decided not to time myself after my editor worried it’d just make me eat even faster than I normally do (and end up incapacitated by indigestion). But if I had to guess, I spent about as much time laboring over the burger as it would take Bongripper to get through “Endless,” the first track on Miserable.

Even for a Kuma’s burgers, this one is a doozy. It’s not just that it was tricky to get my hands around—I also found it nearly impossible to prevent it from disintegrating as I ate. Gravity started to take its toll about halfway through my meal, and the provolone cheese oozed out the far end of the burger as Bolognese sauce splattered the plate. This is the first time I remember putting a Kuma’s burger back on the plate and grabbing utensils to finish up.

That said, it was worth it—and you’ll like it too, if you’re into excessive amounts of meat with a nice garlic kick. For me it’d be a special-occasion thing. And because tomorrow night’s Bongripper show at Beat Kitchen sold out before I could get a ticket, this burger was a good consolation prize. It’ll be available for the rest of the month.