Bumba has a curious culinary pedigree. He’s a self-described proud dropout of Kendall College. He cooked at a Walt Disney steakhouse in Florida, then spent a couple of months at The Aviary cocktail bar in the West Loop, and little more than a year working for award-winning chef Paul Virant at suburban Vie and Vistro. He left to open Solstice, an ambitious breakfast and brunch restaurant now closed, with his brother.
For five years, Bumba made as much in-house as possible at their debut restaurant in Western Springs. Even now, he makes his own hot sauce and vinegar. He’s particular; pastry chef Angelyne Canicosa is the only person allowed to make his biscuit recipe. Canicosa was last at Gaijin, also owned by Virant. She and Bumba first worked together at Vie before becoming friends over the years.
Surprisingly, Bumba doesn’t like making their bestseller, and even more shockingly, he doesn’t even like eating it.
“Unfortunately, from a chef’s perspective, with the brewery, people still want a great burger,” Bumba said. “There’s so many great burgers, right? Personally, I just don’t like burgers. I’ve always had a texture issue when it comes to ground beef.”
Which is so strange, because he makes not one, but two exceptional burgers.
The MMB burger ($18) starts more than 28 days in advance. Double dry-aged beef patties get smashed and griddled, then layered with American cheese, caramelized onions, house-made pickles, shredded lettuce and burger sauce on a brioche bun, plus a side of thin, crisp, fresh-cut french fries. The meaty minerality could’ve simply melded into soft, silky fistfuls, but it’s brought from the brink with crisp and acidic components.
A kids burger, whimsically named “THIS IS WHAT YOU ASKED FOR!” ($5) will spoil discerning children for anything less forever. The smaller but thicker hamburger, also on brioche, comes with those fantastic frites or hand-cut, house-made potato chips with a crunch you will covet from the little plate.
Typically it’s our fried chicken entree with our biscuits,” said Bumba, who quite frankly seems too young to be a father to two boys.
The fried chicken though — four fat pieces with spicy braised greens, house-made hot honey and a biscuit ($24, $4 more for gluten-free) — that’s grown-up stuff. A mahogany-brown, crackling crust hides tender juicy flesh, while the biscuit coquettishly reveals flaky golden layers.
On Saturday Denver’s Station 26 Brewing Co. is working to raise awareness by holding a fundraiser for the nonprofit Pints for Prostates. An event-specific beer, The Judge, will be released that day, with $1 from every pint sold will go directly to Pints for Prostates.
The Judge Pale Ale is named for Denver County Judge Andre Rudolph, one of the event’s principal organizers whose father sadly passed away from prostate cancer earlier this year.
“I’m trying to make sure other men go and get checked. We seem to take our health for granted and don’t do all the things that we need to do,” says Rudolph. “Prostate cancer is something that is treatable with early detection. There’s no reason for men not to get checked out father beer because an early diagnosis gives them options to beat this disease.”
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends men between 55 and 69 years old make individual decisions about getting screened for prostate cancer and encourages them to talk to their doctor.
“My dad, when he passed away, was a very young 72. He was very active, and to watch him go through what he did and his deterioration, I don’t want to ever see anybody go through that. If you can be tested and treated and stick around for your friends and family, that’s the best thing you can do for the loved ones in your life.”
The Pints for Prostates fundraiser is taking place all day Saturday, September 11th at Station 26 Brewing Co. at 7045 38th Ave. in Denver.
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