Sunday, February 7, 2010

Yet More Fun Playing With Burgers etc. at Michael Symon's B Spot

This is my fourth post about Michael Symon's B Spot in Woodmere Ohio. First. Second. Third. This may seem excessive (or obsessive) for a burger-beer spot that's been in business for a mere two and one half months. In fact, I'm not sure when or why I decided to blog my way through the entire burger menu (it was a sort of joke I posted because a friend and fellow blogger is blogging his way through Symon's Live to Cook). Perhaps it has something to do with B Spot's close proximity to my office in Lyndhurst, Ohio. Perhaps it is impacted by the wallet-friendly price points. Or perhaps - I just love playing with the food at B Spot, and I want to share my enjoyment with you! Besides, there have been a few changes at B Spot since I last wrote about them that I'd like to share with you.

Before getting to food - please be advised that a flat screen television - ONE television - has been installed above the B Spot Bar. No doubt, this is a compromise, since the room is small and really doesn't need a tv, but folks hanging at the bar might like to watch their sports (and B Spot proprietor Michael Symon is a huge Cleveland sports fan). Thankfully, the tv was dark and silent during Friday's lunch.

And now, the reason we're all here - the FOOD!

My friend Tom has already blogged about this lunch, which took place January 12, but I wanted to share my perspective also. We started with a "Bad A** Shake" - a B Spot menu category I hadn't yet explored. Again, it was my upbringing - we'd never have a dairy drink with a burger (even if it was a cheeseburger!). And the closest I ever came to drinking shakes at all growing up was the Friendly's Fribble, which was usually consumed as a stand-alone item and not a meal accompaniment. But Tom is a dedicated shake-and-burger kinda guy, so we decided to split the Vanilla Bean Apple Pie Bacon shake.


 

 


So why the heck did I even order an iced tea?? Silly girl. Seriously - this is a delicious shake - with bits of real apple pie and cooked bacon in the mix, blended with locally produced Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream. (N.B. - the ice creams and gelatos at the other Symon restaurants are all house made - but they sell too many shakes at B Spot to even consider doing the ice crean in-house.) Not only did I love the shake - I have to confess - it went really, really well with our burgers. 

Tom opted for the Red Hot, which I had already sampled and blogged about here. My choice was:

 
Philly Witt burger with ipsteak, cheezewhiz, onions

Simply decadent.

 


 

As Tom noted on his blog, Chef Michael Symon was in the house this day, which proved most convenient, as he answered some of our questions about the food. He told us that the Whiz on this burger is indeed the processed commercial product  - when he visited Philadelphia, he was given an education on cheesesteak etiquette, and learned that in Philly, an authentic cheesesteak must be topped with Kraft Whiz and no other cheese. He employs that knowledge at B Spot to tasty effect. However, what I began to realize around this B Spot meal is that I almost prefer the burgers without additional meats on top - the La Frieda beef blend is so tasty on its own, that it's hard for any other meat topping to compete with it.

Anyway, Tom and I selected our next food item after discussing with the Iron Chef about how people talk about eating healthy (which causes those who feed them to stock "healthy" food items, like salad) but how the reality is that most of them don't eat all that healthily, at least when they are "out" (and that is my experience in catering, also - I can't tell you how many boxes of salad we donated to the charitable agencies after the 1800 person event I catered last summer). Michael's restaurant Bar Symon 86'd its dinner salads in January, after serving all of 17 orders during the prior month. And B Spot is obviously not a health food Mecca. So what did Tom and I do? Instead of ordering onion rings, fries, chips or wings - we ordered one of these to share:

Chili & Cheese brat with beanless chili, shredded cheddar

Even Michael laughed when we pointed out how we'd chosen to eat "healthy" by skipping the fried food.


All laughter and kidding aside - this was only the second time I'd tried a brat at B Spot, and for whatever reason, I liked it better than I had the first time. I liked it the first time, but it just didn't wow me; Tom surmised that the Stadium Mustard I had on it the first time might have overwhelmed the flavors a bit.

The bratwurst still has the only weak link (you should pardon the expression) I've discerned in the entire B Spot menu so far - the bun. Whereas the burger buns were re-tooled slightly after B Spot had used them for a few weeks, the brat bun remains seriously lacking in profundity. The burger bun is custom made for B Spot by Orlando Baking Company; while Orlando also makes the brat bun, I don't know if its a custom product or off-the-rack. All I know is that it  falls apart, and really doesn't add any flavor or texture to the party. Which, when the brat is slathered with house-made chili and oodles of cheese - matters a whole lot less!

 

I leave this lunch description with a caution - even half a shake is darned filling! Good thing we skipped the fried stuff. Even without it, we each took half our burger for the next days lunch.

Onto the next few lunches, where the changes kicked in: 

Greek Burger - Topped with House-Made Gyro Slices,  Feta Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Tzatziki Sauce (on the side because I asked for it to be)

By the time this lunch rolled around, B Spot's menu had undergone a few changes. Gone were two burger choices that I had not gotten to try yet (I'm guessing they didn't sell well): Jersey Boy burger with pork roll, whip sauce, provolone, pickled green tomato, and Greggy Burger burger with braunschweiger, mustard, red onion. Also gone was the outsourced Veggie Burger patty used on the Why??

More important than what was eliminated was what was added - the "Smasher's Special" (a weekly one-off) and a new look for the Why?? - portobello mushroom replacing the veggie patty, and bleu cheese being replaced by the diner's choice of cheese, with the same pickled onion and arugula as before, and the choice to add bacon at no charge. Since mushrooms do not interest me in any whole form, I will focus on the Special, which on this day was the Greek Burger shown above. Happily, Chef Symon was also in the house when I arrived for this lunch, and he confirmed that the luscious slices of Gyro meat came from a lamb loaf that was made in-house.


Crestfallen, I realized that I might never get through the whole burger menu if they keep this up every week! One bite of this sandwich equaled instant happiness. Forget what I said above about other meats not able to compete with the burger.





I asked for the tzatziki sauce on the side because I knew that it was loaded with cucumber. How did I know this, you might ask? Well, in a total coincidence (so Michael swore), my friend Dave, who is blogging Live to Cook, had blogged this recipe from the book that very day! I did use some of it on the burger - I just employed cucumber-portion control so I could enjoy it. And enjoy it I did - I heartily recommend this burger if it is available when you dine at B Spot.

My prediction that the one-offs were going to make it impossible to taste the whole menu seemed to be coming true when I next visited B Spot for lunch, together with my husband and our good friend Edsel. We all ordered the Smasher's Special almost before our server finished describing it!


Burger topped with Chorizo, Pepperjack, Lettuce, Red Onion, Pickled Jalapeno (served on side)

The jalapeno on the side was the kitchen's idea - as our server explained - they hadn't quite figured how to get all of the goodness to stack on the bun!

These two shots are pre-jalepeno:






And this after a judicious addition:




BTW - one of those little touches that I love is that some of the pickled jalapenos are red. It is so hard to get ripe, red peppers from either the retail market or food service - and those are the best. The chorizo wasn't really spicy at all - house manager Sam told us that they weren't happy with the product, and would be switching to a different one before the end of the week. Didn't matter to us - we all loved it! Bob even ate every last one of his pickled peppers!

This seems to be as good a place as any to note how wonderful the service has been at every B Spot visit so far. Even when they are slammed, which often comes towards the end of my meal (I tend to get there before noon to avoid waiting for a table), service is gracious, considerate and helpful. When "business" lunching, or otherwise lingering after the food is gone - I have never been made to feel hurried or pressured to let them turn a table. It seems that this is the flipside of the "Symon Says" rule that parties aren't seated until they are complete - once everyone is there and seated, you will not be pushed away just because the last bite is gone. Works for me.

At my last visit on Friday, I finally got to sample the shake that is modeled after the one Michael described on the Food Network show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" as, well, the best shake he ever ate. Sorry I don't remember the restaurant (though I think it was in Philly) - if someone knows, please shout out in the comments.


Chocolate Banana Marshmallow Shake



This was one tasty shake! Since I shared it with my dining companion, I didn't get to taste the marshmellows until they were mixed in with the shake (and obviously, cold). Next time - I need to snag a spoonful before we share, so I can get the full effect of the bruleed marshmellows against the icy shake.


Shroomage burger with portabella, blue cheese, lola steak sauce, caramelized onions

As we were perusing the menu, my dining companion, who hadn't been to B Spot yet and was trying to decide on a burger, agreed to order the Shroomage so I could take a photo (since it is the only burger on the menu that I would never order for myself, due to the huge hunk of mushroom - which kind of makes the sandwich, so it would be silly to leave it off). She liked it, but wasn't totally wowed by the combination. However, she will be back!


Lola burger with fried egg, bacon, pickled red onions, cheddar and mayo 

Not since the days of Lolita's Kobe Burger (which went off the menu there several years ago) have I enjoyed a burger dripping with egg yolk so much as I enjoyed this one.

 


We also shared the Chips with parmesan fondue, which I've showed you before:





My dining companion reminded me that the chips make a wonderful vehicle for tasting the sauces on the table. I've gotten so blase about the ever-present sauces; but when she said that, I suddently realized that I hadn't actually tasted them all yet.





To me - one of the ultimate "fun playing with food" things is when a chef takes an ingredient that I don't care for, and creates a food that I find delicious using that ingredient. I realized the moment I tasted it that I didn't just like - I LOVED the Coffee BBQ sauce - so much that I schmeared it onto my remaining Lola Burger half before consumption. (For those of you who don't know this - as a toddler, I was severely burned with blazing hot coffee. I still "wear it" - a large, ugly scar on my body, and a total aversion to all things coffee on my palate and in my olfactory sense.) If it has coffee and I like it - it's gotta be pretty darn special.

And so - another round of fun playing with the burgers and such at B Spot brings us a few changes in menu and decor, and a continued consistency in food and service that keeps me coming back for more.

B Spot Burgers on Urbanspoon

3 comments:

  1. I know I've had that Red Hot burger the last two times I've gone to B Spot, but damn if it isn't just THAT GOOD! That being said, I almost ordered the Lola burger the last time I went and after seeing your pictures, I may just have to forgo my Red Hot for a Lola.

    B Spot needs to implement a burger sharing program so that you can try more than one burger flavor on each visit. :)

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  2. Thanks for the links! Greek burger looks tasty.

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