I have been a fan of Michael Symon before I ever ate his food or saw him on TV. I read about him in Michael Ruhlman’s Soul of a Chef and made note to keep an eye out for him and his restaurant. There has been no shortage of reminders since I read that book years ago. Recently, one of his spin-off concerts, B Spot opened on Hamilton Road. I was not surprised by the expansion to Columbus, that is a logical step that many Cleveland icons are taking (Melt, Noodlecat) but I was surprised by the location. My first thoughts were “why not the Short North or somewhere more hip?” But with more thought and six other locations in the growing empire, it made more sense. On some level, getting some of the Symon philosophy of food outside of city centers makes sense and cents for him and is the key to growing a chain to be.
The concept is simple: burgers with several twists and maybe a turn or two, a few other comfort food sandwiches – bologna, brats and chicken, a couple of salads and sides and several shakes with lots of added in ingredients. The menu is small and (hopefully) easy to execute. A nice addition is the ability to add-on to and customize almost everything. Burgers can be: beef, turkey, chicken, veggie or bologna. Added toppings include nine types of cheese, eight additional meats (garnishes – such as pastrami, bacon, chorizo and etc,) and various other topping such as a fried egg or bacon slaw. So pretty quickly, what seems like a simple menu becomes overwhelming with an endless array of possibilities.
Fans of Michael Symon get a glimpse of what his original restaurant offers with the option of Lola Fries (think cut fries with a big dash of rosemary). Or you could go hog-wild with porky fries which include pulled pork, cheese whiz and pickled chilies.
Speaking of pickled, Michael Symon has a long fascination with pickling things (as do I) so I was happy to see B Spot features a self-serve pickle bar with several types of pickles and pickled vegetables.
So what is the verdict? My grade is a B+. The burgers were good but did not blow me away. The space was comfortable with bits of bric a brac(y) fun, such as the letter B spelled out in a beer can collection to that takes up most of a wall. Hamburgers are ubiquitous but I think where gourmet burgers go south is by trying to be too complex, often simple is best. What adds to plus to the B spot? Bad A** shakes. Standard shakes include the standards Chocolate and Vanilla Bean as well as more adventurous such as Vanilla Bean Apple Pie and Bacon. Putting pie in milkshakes is something that should happen more often. So much in fact that I once drove an extra 100 miles while researching pork tenderloin sandwiches in Iowa so I could have one at the Hamburg Inn #2 in Iowa City. On my visit to B Spot I sampled a seasonal shake infused plenty of peanut butter and cookies. When he server described it, I actually blanked out for a moment and had to have her repeat the ingredients for me because I could not believe the combination was that perfect. Another thing that excited me was a selection of four tasty sauces (for burgers, fries, onion rings and more) Coffee BBQ, Shasha sauce, Lola Ketchup and of course, a Cleveland classic, Ballpark Mustard.
To sum it up. Check out B Spot and if you can’t decide what to get, order two milkshakes.