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Brgrbelly [was Leadbelly] - 5739 W. Irving Park Rd, Chicago

Brgrbelly [was Leadbelly] - 5739 W. Irving Park Rd, Chicago
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  • Brgrbelly [was Leadbelly] - 5739 W. Irving Park Rd, Chicago

    Post #1 - March 25th, 2013, 2:45 pm
    Post #1 - March 25th, 2013, 2:45 pm Post #1 - March 25th, 2013, 2:45 pm
    Here's my lengthy review of Leadbelly. Scroll to the bottom for my summary if you're short on time.

    I was there for the grand opening this past Saturday. The place is pretty small with only 6 tables (maybe four 4-tops and two 2-tops?) and bar-like seating along the restaurant front. When you walk in, there are a lot of pictures of classic rock artists, but interestingly I don't think I saw one of Lead Belly himself. There's also a bunch of TV screens showing classic rock music videos and classic rock was playing on the speakers (no Lead Belly here either). The setup is nice and intimate, and with the pictures, TV screens and craft beer display, my first impression was that this is exactly how I'd want my mancave to look if I had one.

    For the place being small, I thought that service was kinda slow but that just might be because we walked in an hour after it opened. Only half the tables and maybe a couple people sitting along the front were eating. To help pass time, they do have little trivia cards on the tables you can play with. From the time we ordered to the time we received our food, it was probably 25-30 minutes, but again it was probably because it was the grand opening.

    The food was pretty good. We ordered the Easy Rider (smoked bacon, more bacon, bourbon barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese) and the Amazing Grace (pork belly, onion straws, Carolina mustard). The burgers came out medium and were thick and moist. The fresh baked buns look heavy, but I thought it was just enough to keep the burger in tact the entire time without being too overpowering.

    About the sriracha pickle - I like sriracha so I thought this was interesting. It has a little bit of a spicy kick, but wasn't hot. I could see a lot of people throwing it away if they don't like pickles or aren't into spicy tough.

    Also ordered the Pico fries because I was curious about the Fritos chili cheese chips. They were good, but I don't think I'd order them or any of the other topped fry dishes again. I'm a crispy fry kind of guy and what happens when you put toppings on? They become soggy, so it kinda defeats the purpose of double frying your hand cut fries to make them crispy in the first place.
    Another thing I ordered was one of their spiked shakes - the Kansas City Papa (Bailey's Irish Cream, peppermint schnapps, and chocolate ice cream). Really good and tasty stuff, but for $8 it would probably be a special occasion order for me the next time. I didn't order a beer, but I was pretty impressed with the mostly local craft beer selection. A lot to choose from.
    The almost famous butter cookie - they included one with each burger. The cookie was melt in your mouth good and the sweetness from the chocolate and crunchiness from the crushed nuts was a nice touch. I could probably finish off the cookies in one sitting if I purchased the $9 jar.

    One final thing - when we walked in, there were a bunch of families with little kids sitting on their parent's laps. I have 2 kids myself, so before I went I asked if they had high chairs. The person on the phone said they did, but when we ordered the lady working the register said they didn't. We asked another woman (maybe the person that answered the phone) and she brought one out. So apparently they have at least one high chair, you just have to ask the right person to get it out for you (again, could've been a grand opening thing).

    In summary - I'm really excited about this place being in our area as it's definitely a welcome addition! When people think of a craft burger place, the first place they'd compare Leadbelly to would be Kuma's, but you really can't since Kuma's is on a totally different more over-the-top level. I see Leadbelly as a neighborhood burger joint similar to Bad Apple in Lincoln Square, but more on a truly local level. While I think the burgers at Bad Apple are better, Leadbelly represents what I think the Portage Park area is all about - a hard working, low key establishment where between the friendly staff and good food, you're definitely gonna get the most value for your buck. Definitely check it out!
  • Post #2 - March 25th, 2013, 3:14 pm
    Post #2 - March 25th, 2013, 3:14 pm Post #2 - March 25th, 2013, 3:14 pm
    Thanks for the nice post, fatalysis!

    Leadbeally
    5739 W Irving Park Rd
    Chicago, IL
    773 283-7880
    -Mary
  • Post #3 - April 5th, 2013, 8:39 am
    Post #3 - April 5th, 2013, 8:39 am Post #3 - April 5th, 2013, 8:39 am
    Another review and great photo from the NWside reddit:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/greatNWside/com ... ast_night/
  • Post #4 - April 5th, 2013, 8:48 am
    Post #4 - April 5th, 2013, 8:48 am Post #4 - April 5th, 2013, 8:48 am
    Looks like the Redeye gave them a four star review too!

    http://www.redeyechicago.com/ct-red-bur ... 9148.story
  • Post #5 - April 5th, 2013, 1:42 pm
    Post #5 - April 5th, 2013, 1:42 pm Post #5 - April 5th, 2013, 1:42 pm
    Felt I needed to provide another data point for Leadbelly, as my experience was not reflective of the love it’s been getting:

    There’s a lot to like about Leadbelly on the surface. Small business in destination-starved Portage Park, interesting theme, a good selection of local beers on offer, etc. But as much as my family and I badly wanted to like this place, the food was less than the sum of its parts.

    A comparison to Kuma’s was only natural, for right when we walked in, we were met with a number of rock posters, rock trivia cards on the tables, and Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance on the flat screen. I doubt that Leadbelly is trying to ride on the coattails of Kuma’s in this way—I believe the owner just really likes rock music—but it certainly won’t keep diners from letting the comparison creep into their heads. Order at the counter, a regular burger/cheeseburger is $7, and the specialty burgers are $9-10. When we inquired about cooking the burgers to order, the person taking our order said their policy is that they can’t—everything must be at least medium. It took a later explanation from the owner to understand why. Because they use a 10% smoked pork belly in their beef grind, they need to make sure the beef is cooked all the way through. Perhaps it came from the “everything is better with a little pork” motto that seems to be the undying rage among new food establishments these days, but this really compromised the burger, in my opinion. The burgers were on the medium-well side. What little pork belly lay in the burger was indiscernible. But the flavor of the beef became very difficult to taste because of the insistence on the medium/medium-well preparation. The buns were very good—fresh, hearty buns that complemented but didn’t get in the way of the burger. Ingredients such as homemade sriracha pickles and bourbon bbq sauce did not stand out in any way, caught a slight hint of spice in the pickles but I didn’t think that either added much. Fries, which are advertised as being double fried over a 24 hour period, were soft and limp—there was no crisp anywhere in sight on these. The specialty fries employ oil and sauces on top of the fries, which add to the sogginess. I had a couple ounces of oil pooled at the bottom of my fry container. The cookie they include with every burger wasn’t particularly noteworthy to the eaters at our table- tasted like a simple sugar cookie with a little chocolate drizzled over it.

    I want to hold out hope for Leadbelly. The concepts for the burgers are good, and a quality burger and beer joint is a welcome addition to that stretch of Irving Park Rd. I think some of the missteps, especially the fries, will get worked out over time. But if the owner is steadfast in her 10% pork belly blend, I think it will put off a lot of burger-lovers (to say nothing of people avoiding pork for religious or other dietary reasons). The compromise on cooking time simply isn’t worth any negligible gain in flavor from the pork.
  • Post #6 - April 6th, 2013, 4:58 am
    Post #6 - April 6th, 2013, 4:58 am Post #6 - April 6th, 2013, 4:58 am
    T Kent wrote: When we inquired about cooking the burgers to order, the person taking our order said their policy is that they can’t—everything must be at least medium.


    Image

    That's disappointing.
  • Post #7 - April 6th, 2013, 5:11 am
    Post #7 - April 6th, 2013, 5:11 am Post #7 - April 6th, 2013, 5:11 am
    My experience the other night pretty much mirrored T Kent's. I give Leadbelly an A for creativity and promise and a C- for execution. My fries were served room temp and unsalted and my burger was cooked well past medium and was very dry (where's that pork belly moisture?). Add to that the choking crowds lined up out the door and the fleet of baby strollers all crammed into a place not much bigger than my living room, and it made for an uncomfortable experience.

    I'm hoping that things get better as they work out the kinks and the novelty of having a new place in the neighborhood wears off. I'll happily try Leadbelly's again in a few months.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #8 - February 6th, 2014, 5:28 pm
    Post #8 - February 6th, 2014, 5:28 pm Post #8 - February 6th, 2014, 5:28 pm
    Have to post an update since it seems like people haven't visited much.

    My g/f and I dine here a few times a month at least. The burgers, to me, are always juicy and well seasoned. We came from Edgewater where we used to frequent The Burger Philosophy. I'd place these burgers above theirs. The meat has a nice flavor, and they have some really great topping combinations. So far, I've returned to the Easy Rider (smoked bacon, more bacon, cheddar cheese, bourbon bbq sauce...I skip the pickles) and the Salty Dog (Leon's polish sausage, homemade sauerkraut...with grilled onions mixed in).

    The fries when we've had them have been very good as well: crispy, flavorful, and well seasoned. The only time I've had an issue was getting them to go. I don't know how they pack them, but they usually wind up soggy. I've never had that problem in house.

    We've also experimented with doing the chicken. The menu says you can get any burger as fried chicken breast or eggplant, but we've found they'll also do a grilled chicken breast. Neither my g/f nor I are really into spicy, and one time the grilled breast seemed a bit spicy. They bent over backwards to make sure we were happy with our orders.

    Sure, even over the winter, it's still busy most nights, and with their limited hours, you do have to plan a bit. Walking in at 7:30pm on a decent weather Friday night is still a crapshoot for a table, but there's a reason. Portage Park can use more places like this, so we're happy to support them. Are they Kuma's or Edzo's? No, but I'd put them a cut above Burger Philosophy, and both of those places Chicago can definitely use more of.
  • Post #9 - February 6th, 2014, 6:34 pm
    Post #9 - February 6th, 2014, 6:34 pm Post #9 - February 6th, 2014, 6:34 pm
    Leadbelly is an interesting place. I must admit that it is refreshing not to have to go south or east for a restaurant. It's nice to see things popping up off of Irving Park Road.

    The comparison to Kuma's Corner is obvious and instant, but they're really two different places. The only real similarities are burgers, beer, and loud music. It's actually more Hot Doug's than Kuma's. I say this because they are really very nice in there (Kuma's doesn't have a reputation for being the most pleasant restaurant to deal with). The gentleman I spoke with at the counter (not sure if he was the owner or not) was extremely welcoming and jovial. We had some nice small talk and it ended up we were both northwest side kids, so we shared niceties on that similarity.

    Upon arriving the menu was explained to us (not that it was difficult to understand). Included is a huge selection of bottled beer and a couple of tap selections as well, in addition to booze milkshakes. I appreciated the availability of booze at what is essentially a small storefront restaurant. Always nice to enjoy a burger with a beer, ya know?

    I had the Leadbelly burger with pepper jack and extra sriracha pickles on the side (they just sounded tasty and they were). The bun is absolutely delicious. It is house made and is similar to the one that DMK has. It is almost like a cross between white bread and ciabatta with poppy seeds on top. Very tasty. I did not think the burger itself was anything exemplary although it wasn't bad at all. I didn't taste the pork at all. It was well cooked and well seasoned. I would have preferred the vegetables to be room temperature instead of cold. It was overall, though, a delicious burger.

    I had the garlic parmesan herb and olive oil fries, which were delicious. They were greasy as sin, but incredibly delicious. They were a generous portion. Enough to share between two. Appreciated the alacarte. After all was said and done I was out the door for ten bucks... Not bad at all.

    I will definitely be back. I would go here over Kuma's Corner without much convincing. Kuma's is delicious but it's extremely unpleasant to deal with. This place is pleasant, cozy, and the music is far better, haha. I like it and the prices are very reasonable. It's a good value and I'll travel for that.
    "People are too busy in these times to care about good food. We used to spend months working over a bonne-femme sauce, trying to determine just the right proportions of paprika and fresh forest mushrooms to use." -Karoly Gundel, Blue Trout and Black Truffles: The Peregrinations of an Epicure, Joseph Wechsberg, 1954.
  • Post #10 - February 6th, 2014, 8:48 pm
    Post #10 - February 6th, 2014, 8:48 pm Post #10 - February 6th, 2014, 8:48 pm
    Were you able to grab a table when you were there, or is the battle for limited seating still raging?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #11 - February 6th, 2014, 9:54 pm
    Post #11 - February 6th, 2014, 9:54 pm Post #11 - February 6th, 2014, 9:54 pm
    Stevez, I walked in at approximately 7:45 or 8 last week on a weeknight and immediately grabbed a table.
    "People are too busy in these times to care about good food. We used to spend months working over a bonne-femme sauce, trying to determine just the right proportions of paprika and fresh forest mushrooms to use." -Karoly Gundel, Blue Trout and Black Truffles: The Peregrinations of an Epicure, Joseph Wechsberg, 1954.
  • Post #12 - August 14th, 2015, 5:49 am
    Post #12 - August 14th, 2015, 5:49 am Post #12 - August 14th, 2015, 5:49 am
    Both locations here on NW side are changing their name. Lost the copyright infringement court case. There's Facebooks post and also a new Reddit conversation.

    http://redd.it/3gxm6g
  • Post #13 - August 14th, 2015, 9:04 am
    Post #13 - August 14th, 2015, 9:04 am Post #13 - August 14th, 2015, 9:04 am
    kenji wrote:Both locations here on NW side are changing their name. Lost the copyright infringement court case. There's Facebooks post and also a new Reddit conversation.

    http://redd.it/3gxm6g

    Now known as Brgrbelly Restaurant.

    https://www.facebook.com/48231479181764 ... =1&theater

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #14 - August 14th, 2015, 10:26 am
    Post #14 - August 14th, 2015, 10:26 am Post #14 - August 14th, 2015, 10:26 am
    IMHO: stupid name!
  • Post #15 - August 14th, 2015, 12:17 pm
    Post #15 - August 14th, 2015, 12:17 pm Post #15 - August 14th, 2015, 12:17 pm
    kenji wrote:IMHO: stupid name!


    Stupid, indeed. But I'm guessin' they wanted to minimize signage costs, so they had to swap BRGR for LEAD.
  • Post #16 - August 15th, 2015, 2:30 pm
    Post #16 - August 15th, 2015, 2:30 pm Post #16 - August 15th, 2015, 2:30 pm
    spinynorman99 wrote:
    kenji wrote:IMHO: stupid name!


    Stupid, indeed. But I'm guessin' they wanted to minimize signage costs, so they had to swap BRGR for LEAD.


    Well then Lardbelly would have been even cheaper . . . not as cheap as Loadbelly, mind you, but that's probably not going to conjure up anything appetizing. :)
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #17 - August 21st, 2015, 10:59 am
    Post #17 - August 21st, 2015, 10:59 am Post #17 - August 21st, 2015, 10:59 am
    I think they should just flip the whole thing over and call it Leadbooty. :roll:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #18 - August 21st, 2015, 11:22 am
    Post #18 - August 21st, 2015, 11:22 am Post #18 - August 21st, 2015, 11:22 am
    Lardbelly would have reduced the change down to two letters.

    Leanbelly would have been only one letter to change and they could trick people into thinking it is a diet/exercise facility. Once inside, nobody could resist a burger.
  • Post #19 - August 21st, 2015, 3:20 pm
    Post #19 - August 21st, 2015, 3:20 pm Post #19 - August 21st, 2015, 3:20 pm
    Alchemy would have done the job: from Leadbelly to ... Goldbelly!
    fine words butter no parsnips
  • Post #20 - November 15th, 2016, 9:28 pm
    Post #20 - November 15th, 2016, 9:28 pm Post #20 - November 15th, 2016, 9:28 pm
    I ate here recently and thought it was just ok. My 2 favorite aspects were the delicious seeded roll and the french fries. But honestly, my feelings about the burger after eating it were pretty similar to what my concerns about it were before ever having one: including pork requires cooking the burger to a considerably higher temperature than if it were just beef. Yeah, there's still moisture because of the pork but this isn't an improvement over a properly cooked all-beef burger.

    While they do allow -- and even encourage -- the mixing and matching of their multitudinous available toppings, the named, default combinations were pretty much all head-scratchers. I'm sorry but I cannot foresee the day that I'll ever want a crab cake on my burger. And I find the offering of pulled pork as a burger topping dubious. If it were really good pulled pork, if they had an actual wood-burning smoker, why wouldn't they just sell the pulled pork on its own? I did not order this and maybe I should have asked for a sample taste.

    This felt a lot like a Kuma's (of which I'm no fan) wannabe to me: a less-than-optimal patty smothered with a plethora of toppings designed to distract. I don't begrudge anyone who prefers this style of burger but my experience at Brgrbelly reminded me with crystal clarity that when it comes to burgers, I'm a purist.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #21 - November 16th, 2016, 11:21 am
    Post #21 - November 16th, 2016, 11:21 am Post #21 - November 16th, 2016, 11:21 am
    I liked Brgrbelly the one time I was there, but in general I totally agree with Ronnie. I still say the RHR double with cheese is the best burger I've ever had in Chicago.
  • Post #22 - April 8th, 2017, 4:32 pm
    Post #22 - April 8th, 2017, 4:32 pm Post #22 - April 8th, 2017, 4:32 pm
    Ate here for the first time today and enjoyed my burger. The patty was overcooked (they asked for temperature but every burger in the place seemed to be medium well) but it still tasted good and the toppings were plentiful and quality. The real draw is the bun though. That might be the best damn burger bun in Chicago.
  • Post #23 - September 24th, 2021, 10:45 am
    Post #23 - September 24th, 2021, 10:45 am Post #23 - September 24th, 2021, 10:45 am
    If you sign up for Brgrbellly's mailing list they will send you 2 coupons a week: one on Wednesday for a BOGO free offer and one on Thursday for any sandwich $6.

    Since I can't resist a deal, I got 2 sandwiches from them Wednesday. Having read this thread, I didn't get the burger. I much prefer cheeseburgers that moo when I bite into them. I got one with chicken breast and one with fried chicken. I thought the fried chicken one was outstanding: good piece of fried chicken, great bun, and the blue cheese/onion string combo checks off a lot of boxes for me.

    It's not really on my way home from work, but it's not too much deviation between work and home. It's gone on my list for occasional treats.

    Giovanna
    =o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=

    "Enjoy every sandwich."

    -Warren Zevon

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