B is for Big Flavor

Despite his skyrocketing fame in the culinary world, Michael Symon’s collar remains blue – albeit with some specks of red (ketchup) and yellow (mustard).

Until the recent return of The Chosen One (LeBron James, if you don’t have the Internet, or ears), Symon has been arguably Cleveland’s national poster boy, parlaying his affable nature and approachable gourmet cuisine at Lola into a spot at the Food Network table.

Now, he brings that same feeling to central Ohio with his fourth B-Spot location, a concept dedicated to burgers, bourbon, and brats, and the simple nostalgia of his Midwestern upbringing.
“I want to bring people back to childhood,” he told (614) last month prior to opening his new Gahanna restaurant. “Most kids, if not all kids, enjoyed burgers on the grill with their families on a regular basis. Any food like that – whether it’s hot dogs or hamburgers – stirs up childhood memories. It’s going to be food that’s popular forever.”

The menu, like the concept for B-Spot, is unabashedly basic. There is a classic cocktail menu that accounts heavily for the (B)ourbon – including an interesting iteration of the (B)loody Mary. Other than a few simple salads and milkshakes (’cause why not, we’re in the Midwest), Symon and his crew are betting heavily on the other two B’s to carry to franchise flag:

The Fat Doug, with its pastrami, Swiss, and coleslaw shines as a well-executed stack of potentially competing flavors, rounded out perfectly by Symon’s Cleveland staple, Stadium Mustard; the Porky (topped with pulled pork); and the New Jack City (chorizo sausage, avocado, salsa verde, roasted red peppers, red onion, pepperjack) show off Symon’s meat-centric creativity, too. But, it stands to reason that the Lola, just like it made the name for Symon, is the simple standout. As an uptake on his father’s and grandfather’s basic backyard burgers, the Lola’s sunny-side-up egg, pickled onions, cheddar cheese and bacon are a monument to Midwestern flavor profiles. In this state, you wouldn’t look foolish ordering it for any meal – anytime of day.

Throw in options for burger-thick slices of fried bologna, beer brats, and grilled cheese, and it’s a menu that is pretty straight-forward about what it’s trying to deliver.

And for the most part, it does. Fair warning that B-Spot isn’t as easy on the wallet as some of those old-school grease joints (fries come separately, and with a $3.99 price tag), but fast service, quality food, and a comfortable experience (including a dining room open to the patio) is worth a few extra bucks.

It took five years to get the concept right before he opened even a single location, says Symon, as he made sure his beef was sustainable and had the perfect ratio of fat. Now, after an estimated 1,000 burgers that have passed through his influential palate, we can trust that the B-Spot has hit their sweet spot.

The B-Spot is now open at 5091 N Hamilton Rd., Gahanna. For more details on their menu, visit www.bspotburgers.com.

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Travis Hoewischer

I’ve been working in journalism in central Ohio for more than a decade, and have been lucky enough to be a part of (614) Magazine since the very first issue. Proud to live in a city that still cares – and still reads.

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