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No resting on laurels for busy Iron Chef Michael Symon


No resting on laurels for busy Iron Chef Michael Symon

By BARRY GOODRICH

Michael Symon has a lot on his plate these days.
No stranger to hard work, Symon just opened his latest venture, Bar Symon, in Avon Lake last month. He is starting up another restaurant, the B Spot, at Eton Chagrin Boulevard in September, and he will be releasing a new cookbook, “Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen,” this fall. The book is co-written with longtime friend Michael Ruhlman of Cleveland Heights.
So much for resting on his laurels. Symon became the first Cleveland chef to win a James Beard Award back in May when he took the top honors for Best Chef in the Great Lakes Region, besting competitors from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
“I really can’t even begin to put into words the absolute thrill it was to win,” Symon said. “To win something that is voted on by your peers is absolutely one of the greatest honors I have received as a chef.”
Symon accepted the award, considered as the Oscar of the food world, at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City’s Lincoln Center, becoming the first winner from the North Coast in the 19-year history of the awards.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Symon also has partnered with Pilsner Urquell beer to educate consumers on the compatibility of beer with food. Symon’s name and likeness are being displayed at point of sale venues throughout the country, and he has created recipes that pair specifically with the beer, which is based in the Czech Republic.
Symon, who won the Iron Chef competition on the Food Network back in 2007, also drew the attention of another famous Clevelander recently. None other than LeBron James presented him with a framed photo from the Cavalier’s conference finals with the inscription “To the MVP of all chefs.”
Bar Symon, located at the former Swingos Grand Tavern location in Avon Lake, opened July 1 under the supervision of Symon, wife Liz, partner Doug Petkovic and executive chef Matt Harlan. The interior was completely redone, resulting in a more down-to-earth atmosphere for the American bar and brasserie.
On opening day, 60 people were in line at 3:30 p.m., a half hour before the doors opened. By the end of the night, some 220 diners had enjoyed the unique menu.
“We wanted to do something with a concept that fit the neighborhood,” said Symon. “We would like to get people to come back two or three times a week. We were fortunate that this location was available.”
A zinc-topped bar seats 20 with a main room seating 90 and an adjacent party room available. The large patio will be open later this month. Featured items include Symon’s trademark Fried Brussels Sprouts as well as Spicy Pork Cracklings, both of which were featured on a recent Food Network special. Other menu highlights are Roasted Bone Marrow, Truffled Fried Chicken, Vegetable Pot Pie and Smoked Brisket. An extensive selection of beers and wines are available.
Bar Symon is open at 4 p.m. for drinks and 5 p.m. for dinner, Monday through Saturday with Sunday hours of 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday brunch is offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and a happy hour with drink and food specials is from 4 to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The B Spot, to be located at the former Cold Stone Creamery site at Eton Chagrin Boulevard, has been so named for its attention to bar burgers, beer, bratwurst and another Symon favorite, fried bologna. The chef’s signature fried egg burger is sure to be popular along with fries and milkshakes.
Plans call for all meats to be cured in-house, and Symon will bring in a smoker as well as old Harley Davidson memorabilia for the décor. Some 20 beers will be on tap, and the affordable menu will have sandwiches ranging from $5.50 to $8.50.
“Liz, Doug and I all love good burgers,” said Symon. “We’ve been thinking about this concept for about five years.”
“We’re doing restaurants where we would like to eat,” said Petkovic.
Bar Symon and the B Spot join Symon’s Lola and Lolita in Cleveland and Roast, located in downtown Detroit’s Book Cadillac Hotel. Roast has been garnering rave reviews for its menu, laden with meat and pork items.
After all, Symon is a self-confessed “porkaholic,” all the way down to the “Got Pork” tattoo on his chest, complete with two pigs.
The cookbook will be in stores Nov. 3 but can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com. “The recipes include everything from my childhood until now,” he said.
(Bar Symon accepts reservations for parties of six or more. Call 440.933.5652.)


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