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Latest burger at Kuma's: Tasty or tasteless?

Kuma's Corner, a heavy metal-themed burger joint on Chicago's North Side, this month is featuring a 10-ounce burger topped with a red wine reduction and an unconsecrated communion wafer, a menu item that, depending on whom you talk to, is either tasty or in poor taste.

The Ghost, named after the Swedish metal band Ghost B.C., costs $17 and comes with fries, chips or a side salad. In addition to the ingredients that ostensibly represent the body and blood of Jesus, the burger served on a pretzel bun includes a portion of slowly braised goat shoulder, aged white cheddar cheese and Ghost chile aioli.

Kuma's names all of its specialty burgers after metal bands. Ghost B.C. is known for its secretive nature, with its musicians wearing hooded robes while the singer appears in skull makeup and dresses as a Roman Catholic cardinal. Some people have been offended by the burger, Director of Operations Luke Tobias said at the restaurant Wednesday.

"People have been kind of upset," he said. "The thing with this is, the communion wafer is unconsecrated, so until that happens, it's really just a cracker."

Jeff Young, producer of the Catholic Foodie blog, thought the burger crossed a line.

"It's not the Eucharist, but it's still symbolic," Young said. "For us as Catholics, the Eucharist is more than a symbol, it's a sacrament. At the same time, it doesn't mean that symbols aren't important. … It is a mockery of something that is holy. The same thing could be said of the band itself."

Keir Norwell, who works in Chicago, is a past Kuma's customer who also wasn't thrilled with the new menu item.

"It … came off that what was being presented was not as offensive to me as much to my God and my savior," Norwell said on the phone after posting his disapproval on Facebook.

While a handful are offended, hundreds of people on Kuma's Facebook page said they are eager to get a taste of the spicy, savory lunch or dinner item.

Fred Wu, a Chicago engineer, came into Kuma's on his lunch break Wednesday and ordered the Ghost burger. He didn't realize it had a communion wafer garnish until he got his food.

"It was interesting. I thought (the wafer) was more for effect than anything else," Wu said. "It was pretty good, actually; it had a nice goat flavor and a nice spice. … I'm pretty difficult to offend."

The wafer is made of unleavened bread and bears a decorative cross. Although the single wafer serves as a garnish, customers are free to ask for no wafer — or multiple wafers — with their meal.

"It's not a commentary on the state of religion or anything like that," Tobias said. "It's literally, 'We like this band; we think what they do is cool.'"

ehirst@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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