I'll admit to small sample size and arriving on the heels of any would-be lunch rush, but I was surprised to show up inside King of Creams' Hermantown location to nearly empty tables recently.
Hermantown, you can trust King of Creams. Appeal for the burger alone ought to be flooding the joint (responsibly, of course).
But, like a lot of things in the city, King of Creams-Hermantown is in a weird location. It's a question in a riddle at 4140 Richard Ave., near Sam's Club. But it is well worth any confusion.
The place opened in January 2020. Sunlit on the day I ate there, the interior was stylish and noticeably clean. Counter staff was wiping windows.
I ordered the 1/2-pound cheeseburger. Toppings were mostly free, and I veered California-style with lettuce, mayo, pickle and mustard. To reach 1/2-pound, King of Creams stacks two 1/4-pound patties, and they're the key to everything.
Burgers come smash seared masterfully thanks to owners Courtland and Rebecca Powe and their food-truck beginnings. The patties finish with an appealing crust, maintaining space and mass to each beef patty.
The burger I ordered arrived foil-wrapped and steaming hot. It held its juices without making a mess. There was something fresh, earthy and well-fed about King of Creams' beef. Biting into it sparked images in my mind's eye of blue skies, clouds and green pastures, to go along with bursts of flavor.
The applewood-smoked bacon costs extra, but proved sweet perfection. Starch-stiff and maintaining the last of its sizzle, the bacon dutifully ceded portions of itself with every bite without crumble or yucky stretch.
The rest of the burger seemed to come assembled from minds and hands who know how to complement things: where to reach for the good stuff, and when to say just shred the lettuce.
Anyway, Hermantown, get to King of Creams. It grew up right in Duluth's Hillside, and now blesses new folks with its burgers. I hope to see that dining room hopping responsibly next time.