Sunday, December 13, 2009

Extra Helpings: Michael Symon's B Spot

I recently received an invitation from my good friend Nancy to help celebrate both the opening of Michael Symon's latest restaurant, B Spot, as well as her husband Bob's birthday. While B Spot had only been open about a week when I went, I knew it was going to be a smash hit with the Cleveland crowd. B Spot marks Chef Symon's fourth Cleveland restaurant and fifth overall (his other restaurant being Roast in Detroit). While Michael has really worked every angle from fine dining to pub food, B Spot is notable for its focus on good hearty food that isn't intended to break the bank.

Located at 28699 Chagrin Boulevard, Woodmere, OH 44122, they can be reached at 216-292-5567. This address was actually in the Eton complex and the restaurant is located down by Trader Joe's and Barnes and Noble. There was valet parking, but the parking lot wasn't crowded the night I went and it was an easy five minute walk from where I parked to the front door of the restaurant.

Speaking of which, here was a shot of the outdoor entrance to B Spot:

There was also an indoor entrance that can be reached from within the interior of Eton. Each entrance had a host/hostess stand. Once inside, it was literally impossible to not notice the homage to beer along one side of the restaurant:

A combination of the letter 'B' and the number '13', the 'B' was obvious. Apparently the number thirteen is Michael's lucky number. Not seeing my friends, I gave the hostess my name and party size. It was at that moment that I noticed my friends had not only snagged two bar stools for themselves, but a third right next to them had just opened up. I eagerly snatched it up. As it turned out, I sat down at the bar around 6:45 PM. At 7:50 PM, just as we were finishing up and paying the check, the hostess came over to inform me that a table was finally ready if I still needed it. That is the kind of wait you should expect on a Tuesday night. I'm sure weekends will be worse. Your best bet would be to go at an odd time or be flexible enough to sit at the bar should a spot open up.

The menu at B Spot was pretty short and sweet. "B" stands for Beer, Burgers, and Brats. Meaning Bratwurst. Here was a shot of the front of the menu:

And the two inside pages:

The last page of the menu was their beer and wine list (mostly beer). Sadly, I only took one photo and wouldn't you know it, it was too blurry to post. The good news is that B Spot's entire beer and wine list is available on their website. The list is arranged from lightest (in terms of color and flavor) to darkest. Being a lover of a good dark beer, I started at that end of the menu. I noticed that they had an Akron beer company on tap, Thirsty Dog. The Russian Imperial Stout sounded quite impressive, so I ordered a pint.

After a few minutes, the bartender returned with this:

This was delicious and really hit the spot. With a somewhat well-rounded taste, this beer had notes of chocolate and coffee without being too heavy in either. The Imperial Stout managed to avoid the bitter notes that turn many a fledgling beer drinking away from something such as Guinness (which I absolutely adore). While the texture was a bit chewy, it was easily quaffable. Be careful though, at 9% alcohol by volume, this wasn't a beer for the weak of stomach. It was a good thing we were ordering food to help block the absorption of alcohol or I probably would've had to wait a bit before driving home.

Speaking of food, we looked over the menu and decided that we would each get our own burger and then share three of the sides. First up was my bacon cheeseburger with pepper jack cheese:

The first thing I noticed (even in the dim light of the restaurant), were the tomatoes on top of the burger:

It should be noted that the only color correction I did to the above photo was to lighten the entire photo a bit. The tomatoes really were that red. I'm not sure with whom Chef Symon is doing business, but to get a tomato that ripe and delicious on December 1st requires nothing short of a miracle. Perhaps he is in league with Bender's in Canton.

I ordered the burger medium and happily, the burger came out medium. Although that seems like an obvious no-brainer, I've had trouble lately getting kitchens to cook the burgers to the correct temperature. Clearly Michael has trained his line cooks well as I don't think I saw a single burger go back to the kitchen to be re-fired the entire time I was there. As for the flavor, it was spot on; perfectly seasoned and the creaminess from the cheese was a perfect foil for the savory meat. I normally add ketchup and a little mustard to my burgers, but there was simply no need. After finishing my burger, my dining companion asked me if B Spot's burger had bested the only other burger to unequivocally capture my heart, the Ohio Beef Burger at the Greenhouse Tavern. I'll say this: B Spot's burger was very, very good. And it is roughly the same price as the GHT's version when you order it off their bar menu. However, I have never had a burger that made me absolutely crave it and the experience of eating it made me at the same time lusting for more and shameful for my lust as the Ohio Beef Burger. Still, B Spot's burger was damn good and I'd eat one again in a heartbeat.

To go along with our burgers, we ended up getting three sides. First up were the homemade onion rings fried in lard:

These were excellent onion rings. Nice and meaty, coated well, fried correctly, and finally, seasoned properly. As you bit into each ring, the onion stayed attached to the coating. I'd say that these were in the 99th percentile of onion rings I've ever had in a commercial setting. There are only a handful of times I can say that I've had better rings, and one of those times was when I made them myself. I heartily recommend the onion rings as a side.

Next up was a basket of sriracha fried chicken wings:

These didn't have the nice crispy skin for which I'm always on the lookout, but the chicken meat was tender and moist and the spicy sriracha sauce that they were tossed in was delicious. As I ate several of the wings, I noticed a secondary flavor working in with the chilies and the garlic, an almost citrus flavor. It worked well to counterbalance the primary flavor. As no visible citrus zest was apparent, I surmised that the use of ground coriander might be in play here. Either way, these were very good, but not great chicken wings.

Our final side was a basket of freshly fried potato chips served in a Parmesan and rosemary fondue:

Here was a shot of the fondue:

The chips were freshly fried and had a lovely crunch to them. They weren't greasy in the least. However, a slightly heavy hand with the kosher salt left them a bit too salty for my taste. The cheese fondue, however, was absolute ambrosia. If I came across a hot tub full of this stuff, I would have no problem finding a way to ease my tired aching body into it. This was the kind of sauce that you could slather onto literally anything and it would benefit. I even tried dipping one of the onion rings into it and was pleasantly surprised.

While I didn't avail myself of the pickle station at the center of the restaurant, I did manage to snag a photograph of the condiment basket that was being passed around the bar area:

There are six sauces in all, in the above photograph you can see regular ketchup, Lola ketchup, and ShaSha sauce. The three on the opposite side were a coffee BBQ sauce, stadium mustard, and a balsamic steak sauce. I tried the coffee BBQ sauce on one of the potato chips and it was quite delicious.

With salads, brats, and fried bologna sandwiches on the menu, there really was something here for every Clevelander's taste. They do offer a vegetarian (not sure if it is vegan or not) patty for those who want it, but as the menu name implies, "Why?????" With my beer, burger, and one of the sides, I managed to slip away from B Spot spending only $25 with tax and tip.

I had a great time and a great meal at B Spot. Depending on your tolerance for waiting, you'd do well to heed the advice of going at an off time or be willing to sit at the bar. While the menu wasn't geared towards children, there were some in attendance. Surfaces are fairly hard and it could get noisy when the restaurant was full (which was the entire time I was there). However, the staff is easy-going and friendly and will make sure that when your turn finally comes around, it will definitely be worth the wait. I highly recommend you give B Spot a try the next time you happen to be on the east side of Cleveland.

B Spot Burgers on Urbanspoon


Nancy Heller said...

I've had 4 meals at B Spot now (blogged the first two here: and

I think Tom's post has definitely caught the vibe of the place and communicates the fun! We so enjoyed sharing Bob's birthday with you!

The brats are also very very good, but if you love burgers, you have to try a burger there. My burger that night was the Thin Lizzy (sans pickles) - which has caramelized onions, cheese, pickles and mayo - it was delicious! I love the caramelized onions (which I also had on my brat and loved) but the pickled ones are darned good too.

So Tom - when are you up for another visit??

Tino said...

@Nancy Heller: I have Schedule Craziness coming up for the next couple of weeks for the holidays, but once we roll into 2010, let's definitely go back for more!

Brad said...

Very good review! B-spot Is amazing. One of my favorites in Cleveland.

My b-spot Review

My Blog

KoJoSo said...

Visited B Spot in Strongsville w/ 2friends. One had the wedge salad, great but huge! The other has a cheese bacon burger w/ Rosemary fries. Burger was great, fries had too much rosemary on them. I ordered a med rare burger w/Portabello mushroom, no bun. The burger came well done w/just the mushroom on top, no additional garnish of any kind. Waiter never checked back to see how food was. I would have told him... Did tell hostess who quickly took my burger off bill. Disappointed and don't plan on coming back. Cooked by line cooks w/out chef's supervision.

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