Michael Symon's B Spot Shakes Up Cleveland
28699 Chagrin Boulevard, Woodmere, OH 44122 (map); 216-292-5567; bspotburgers.com
Cooking Method: Grilled, finished on flat top
Short Order: Symon's beefy spin on the Italian Sub is a must-try for meat lovers. Pick the Lola Burger for a less daring adventure.
Want Fries with That? Yes, please. But feel free to skip 'em if you're getting the drool-worthy chips with Parmesan fondue.
Price: $5.50 - $9
Notes: Mon. to Thurs., 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Cleveland has been experiencing a real dining boom lately, and there's no question that at the center of its growth is Michael Symon, whose Lola was a fixture well before he was crowned Iron Chef. Despite the fact that he competes in New York, Symon's recently cemented himself further into Ohio territory with his launch of the B Spot, a burgers, brats, and beer concept that sounded a whole lot like New York City's DBGB from afar. Turns out the feel is entirely different—and dare I say it, way more enjoyable.
There's no question that the B Spot is rooted in the fat-loving movement: fine text on the menu tells you that everything is, in fact, cooked in lard, and the vegetarian burger (called "The Why?") comes with free bacon for anyone who wants it. Despite the excess, Symon means business: He's importing New York City's beloved Pat La Frieda beef for all his six-ounce burger creations, and his shakes take on ballsy flavor combos (which can each be paired with shots of liqueur for a boozy treat).
Start with the parmesan fondue chips ($4.00)—they're perfectly crispy and left unsalted to hold up to the strong, herby cheese.
The Lola Burger ($9.00), named for Symon's famous Cleveland flagship, is the burger of my dreams: a thick grilled patty topped with bacon, pickled red onions, cheddar, and a sunny side up egg. The onions undoubtedly are the star topping—they pack so much acidity, zing, and crunch that there's a whole vat of them in a condiments bar so that you can add them to any other burger. Also in the condiment bar: pickles of three varieties, pickled green tomatoes, and chilis.
The Brueben ($9.00) got rave tableside reviews. Like many other burgers on the menu, it takes inspiration from classic American sandwiches. This one gets a kick from sauerkraut, corned beef, Swiss, and Russian dressing, which I think has a far better place on a burger than on a salad.
The Yo! Burger may be the biggest sign of Symon's excessive nature, but it's also proof that piling lots of bad-for-you things on a burger tastes insanely delicious. Like an Italian sub on top of a burger, it's piled high with coppa, fried salami (yes, fried salami), hot peppers, provolone, and shasha hot sauce. That's a lot of meat for $9.00.
The Lola fries ($3.00), borrowed from Lola, are respectable crunchy shoestring fries with a punch of rosemary. If you have the appetite, go for an order of onion rings ($3.00), too—they don't break any conventions, but they definitely hit the spot.
Whatever you do, don't leave without trying Symon's shakes. To make them fit with the "B" theme, he calls them "Bad A** Shakes," boosting them each with paired shots of liqueur (optional). The Vanilla Apple Pie Bacon shake (paired with a shot of bourbon, $8 with or $5 without the shot) has been making serious waves in Cleveland—it's literally the talk of the town—but I actually preferred the Chocolate Espresso shake, which came with crushed espresso beans and chocolate shavings (and a shot of Frangelico, which doesn't hurt).
I'm glad I don't live closer to the B Spot. it's too good to pretend I wouldn't go back again and again, and goodness knows my stomach (and heart) would eventually be unhappy with that. It's highly worth visiting, but you'll need restraint if you live in the hood. Consider yourself warned.