It took way too long for me to pay a visit to DMK after its much-lauded opening in late 2009, so I resolved to end 2010 with one great burger. The Lakeview joint is Chicago chef Michael Kornick’s less formal establishment and homage to burger basics. DMK’s name comes from his initials along with business partner David Morton, whose family owns some steakhouses.
A massive neon sign marks the spot on Sheffield, and inside the vibe is low-lit and laid back. The décor is elementally cool with exposed brick and wood trim and so is the playlist featuring among others The XX, Tom Petty, and Discovery. My companions, C. and S., and I are extra ravenous so the quick service is much appreciated while never feeling rushed. DMK doesn’t accept reservations; we are seated immediately but as the dinner crowd later surges a considerable wait forms.
DMK’s thing is grass fed beef. This means the cows get to frolic and graze in fields rather than process corn-based feed in enclosures. Their diets are more varied and their meat is leaner. As DMK’s website points out, “If steer were meant to eat corn, they would have fingers instead of hooves to roll it in butter.”
I hate overwhelming menus and DMK thankfully breaks it down to fourteen options. It’s still difficult to deliberate as we salivate over each enticing item. The #1, featuring aged cheddar and smoked bacon, is thoroughly enjoyed so quickly by burger connoisseur S. that he is only able to reflect on its flavor palette in the afterglow. My #5 could use a stronger sense of prosciutto, as it’s overpowered by the onion, but I am feeling the grass fed beef. The burger is tender with just the right touch of pink and juicy without being greasy. C. opts for the #13 and her crispy portabella is a behemoth of a burger. The components make for a tasty marriage while the horseradish highlights individual arugula, mushroom, and fontina flavors. “The burgers start with a good foundation in the bun,” S. points out. Made with potato flour, DMK’s buns are thick but not unwieldy, substantial yet light.
And the fries! DMK serves a free side of sea salt and black pepper fries with every burger from 5-7pm on weekdays. They are soft with a crispy exterior and golden browned to perfection. Hand-cut from russet potatoes, they are available with a variety of yummy accoutrements. After previously experiencing the truffle pommes frites at mk (by the way, still one of my top meals in Chicago) I wonder how the “economy” version would compare. Our amicable waitress confirms that the parmesan and truffle cream fries are their most popular. The table portion is perfect, and again I find myself lapping up the truffle cream.
Need more reasons to visit? At $8 for each, the price-point is on par with your corner tavern’s greasy burger. DMK’s donates part of its profit to a different charity every month with its 365 Days of Giving program. Finally, while a systems error keeps us waiting for the check, our waitress hands us free drink vouchers for the trouble.
It would seem Kornick sparked a craft- burger trend in Chicago, but after hearing not-so-great reviews of the other attempts I’m more inclined to keep revisiting DMK. With many unexplored numbers on the menu, a well-selected beer list with a thirst-inducing range, and rave reviews of the sweet potato fries with lemon-tabasco aioli I have yet to try, I am already craving my next bite of DMK.
DMK Burger Bar
2954 N. Sheffield
Chicago, IL 60657