Saturday, December 27, 2014

Michael Symon's B Spot - Strongsville, OH

Four of Five Pebbles

Have you ever hit the Spot? I mean, the Spot? That spot that makes you moan with pleasure, causes your heart to skip a beat, raises your blood pressure, over works your salivary glands, decreases your I.Q. and releases sticky, tasty juices that run all over your fingers and lips? Of course you haven't. That was a stupid question. Forget about it. Because if you had, you'd be doing it right now!

But let's get serious for a moment. Like Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, those famous explorer with a taste for wild adventures and indian maidens, some of us have set out on journeys in search of the elusive spot without the luxury of previous experience, guidance from our friends or parent (because they never found it either), nor any idea from Garmin of how to get to where we are going. Wherever that may be. You understand, don't you? It is quite difficult to define that which has only been found by a handful of over achievers who, up until recently, have kept the secret of the spot all to themselves. 

So zip up that droopy frown because there is still hope for us laypeople to whom the gods have yet to bestow the gift of discovery (yeah, we'll call it that). There are, in fact, a few that have come before us who are more than willing to share their wisdom and experience with those less fortunate than themselves. One particular bald member of this exclusive society is a talented and well known meat slinger by the name of Michael Symon.

Michael's legendary meat prowess is available to everyone with a few bucks to toss around in one of his B Spot burger restaurants. With numerous locations from which to choose, Michael makes it easy to find one of his spots. I chose the Strongsville, Ohio location for its proximity to mine and asked for the Red Hot Burger special.

The Red Hot burger, although a view at the right angle and light makes it appear other worldly (like food from Uranus), it is indeed quite flavorful and packs just enough of a kick. The soft brioche bun was well toasted but the bottom became soggy quickly with all of the juices that ran out when I gave the burger a gentle squeeze. That, unfortunately, left me having to use a knife and fork to finish. The barbecued pork atop the burger gave some nice acidity and was a Carolina style accompaniment. The burger patty was surprisingly tender and cooked a perfect medium (as I requested) with a bit of salt and pepper. With the addition of jalapeƱos and a layer of melted jack cheese, the flavors climax in your mouth and will keep you coming back for more!

The Lola fries were crispy and tender while the Lola ketchup, which tasted of ancho chili and cumin, paired well with them. Unfortunately, the onion rings left much to be desired and did not appear to have been hand breaded. If, in fact, they were of the frozen variety, I find it an unacceptable alternative in both class and flavor.

Overall, the flavors at this B Spot were spot-on (sorry) and far above the average burger joint. The speed at which my meal was served after I ordered was impressive, even by the standards of a thirteen-year-old boy with his father's bedside magazines.

The meal was enjoyable and I do believe the praises thus far received by Michael Symon are well deserved and likely to continue. After having had this experience and having been shown the way a burger should be, I now frequently have dreams of that wet, juicy goodness oozing around my finger and I find myself with a strange longing for another shot at the B Spot.

B Spot Burgers on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 13, 2014

Rick's Press Room - Meridian ID

Stop the presses! There's something punny going on here!


Headlines are what draw your interest to a newspaper and can sometimes make or break an edition. Not that anyone under the age of thirty knows what a newspaper is anymore, or even what news is that doesn't involve a social network link. Rick and Julie over at Rick's Press Room know a little bit about newspapers and headlines; or at least it would appear so to the casual observer in their little restaurant in downtown Meridian. The walls are littered with headlines of dead people and old crap nobody cares about anymore. But don't  judge the place by the decor.

The one thing everyone that comes to Rick's Press room does care about, other than trying to catch a glimpse of Guy Fieri and his trademark Comaro (give it up kids, Guy has left the building!), is the food that has received quite a few raves from some of the locals and international customers, many of which have adorned the walls of Rick's Press Room with their own headlines via Sharpie. So, I decided to follow the crowd and try out this little joint. 

I was in the mood to sniff out a good story and it just so happened that the smoker was spewing its little love puffs right outside the front entrance. Nice marketing! Not sure what was in the smoker, but I'm certain it was worthy of its own story below the fold. Now, I think I know what Rick and Julie (the owners - hence the name "Rick's Press Room" - keep up kids) were going for with the interior of the place; that eclectic, shabby, recycled newspaper design with a feeling of casualness and fun, but it was more reminiscent of my old college dorm room than a restaurant setting you would expect to see based on all of the published raves. But my college dorm room was a lot of fun and as I recall, there may have been a bit of smoking going on in there too. So, maybe it works. 

I asked about the specialties of the house and was told that pretty much everything was good (canned answer. C'mon, grow a pair! This is your chance to push the highest margin dish!). So I decided to go with a bit of seafood and ordered the Crab Melt with a bowl of the Clam Chowder. Say it with me . . . chow-dah! My dining partner had the raved about burger with simple bacon and cheddar (che dah). we also ordered a loaf of their warm sour dough bread with butter to get our taste buds hopping. 

As promised, the bread was warm and also moist in the center with a crispy crust. The accompanying real butter was a nice contrast to the whipped look-a-likes you normally get at restaurants. Not bad.

The chowder was the soup of the day and I found myself wishing for a little more density to the bowl. A bit loose for my taste and a little shy on flavor, but it did have plenty of clams, potatoes and celery and went well with a bit of the sour dough bread. Pretty good, but not great. 

The crab melt was not what I expected. The copious amounts of mayo and Parmesan really overwhelmed the mechanically separated crab meat, that didn't have much flavor to begin with, and it became lost in the struggle for prominence within the sandwich. The crab filling was topped with melted Swiss cheese. Typically, the blending of cheese and seafood is a no-no situation and liable to make chefs and food critics a bit crabby. In this instance, I happen to agree. Even though there was a good amount of crab meat in the filling, the combination of the other heavy handed ingredients really didn't do the sandwich any favors and I would have opted for a smaller portion with an emphasis on the crab than the mayo and cheese. 

The burger was cooked well done (as requested by my dining partner) but still retained its moisture and was tender. A bit of salt would have enhance the meat flavor. The bacon was slightly limp but not bad and the cheddar was typical for the area. The accompaniments seemed fresh and crisp, but the most redeeming quality of the burger was the bun; it was warm, moist and was toasted nicely for a bit more added texture. The fries . . . . frozen! Seriously?! We are in Idaho, people. What does it take to get some good fries around here?! The service we received was outstanding! Prompt, attentive, but not overbearing. Kudos!

Overall, really not a bad meal, no headlines worthy of the National Enquirer, but maybe the Red Bud Gazette might be an option. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Culver's - Twin Falls ID

Wisconsin is known to many as only having two distinct seasons; nine months of winter and three months of bad sledding. But weather is not the only thing that I remember about the state; cool summers, no poisonous snakes, Badgers, brats, pig on a cow (you gotta be from there to get that one), a bar on every corner (sometimes two) and the omnipresent fried cheese curds are all iconic images that are conjured up whenever you think about the dairy state. Oh yeah, there is one more thing . . . Butterburgers!

Butterburgers are another icon that have been making their way out of the borders of Wisconsin, and we have Culver's to thank for it! Culver's, from its origins in Sauk City, WI (a location I have personally frequented), to their newest location in the heart of Idaho, has been providing some of the best quick service burgers in the country! Andrew Zimmern seems to also agree with my opinion over at his site.

Photo from Culver'

I migrated to Idaho less than a year ago and have been jonesing for a good quick service burger since I got here, so when I heard of the new Culver's Twin Falls location, I made a point to schedule a visitation! As I pulled up to the parking lot, I felt right at home! The interior was also reminiscent of all other locations and I began to anticipate the flavors.

I was greeted with extreme warmth. And even though the young girl taking my order was new, she was being assisted by the owner's mother who was there from Beloit Wisconsin to help her son open the store and train the new employees. Shen engaged each customer and thanked them for coming in. A nice personal touch.

The food at Culver's has always been quick and delicious. The fries are always hot and fresh and I have never had a complaint about messed up orders or poor quality food. Never. Today was no exception. Good food and friendly service at a  reasonable price. Add to that the cheese curds and the frozen custard and you just made me a very happy customer!

I sincerely hope that Culver's continues their expansion into Idaho. Rumor has it that a Meridian location is planned for 2015 which is where I currently reside. I, for one, can't wait!

Farewell to Urbanspoon. You suck!

It is with great sadness that I announce the removal of my blog from Urbanspoon. Urbanspoon passed away from my repertoire of ratings sites after a long battle with my writing style and its inability to understand the term "profanity".

Urbanspoon was always a pretty good fiddle player. In fact, with a lot of practice, its fame grew rapidly over the years and evn though it never quite made it to Carnegie Hall, Urbanspoon eventually became second fiddle to other players such as TripAdviser, Zagat, Yelp and, of course, the piece of corn I shat out last week.

Here is a picture of Urbanspoon I borrowed from a great blogger (I hope he doesn't mind). You can find him at

Urbanspoon is survived by a slough of bland, vanilla, poorly-written, Liberal-I-can't-think-for-myself putrefied food blogs who wouldn't know how to wipe their own corn holes if there wasn't a welfare check attached to it.

Rest in peace, Urbanspoon!

K-Fusion Korean BBQ & Grill on Urbanspoon