Monday, October 19, 2009
Michael Symon’s New Arena
We had lunch with Iron Chef Michael Symon in downtown Cleveland today, but it wasn’t at his signature Lola. It was 400 feet away inside Quicken Loans Arena where Symon is putting a gourmet spin on stadium food, opening two food stands, each modeled after his newest suburban restaurants — both in menu and rustic design.
The deal between the Cavs, food and beverage provider ARAMARK, and Symon has been in the works for eight to 12 months, says Symon, who was sold on the concept for one main reason: “The Cavs are arguably the best team in the NBA, and we like to be affiliated with the best.”
Open for all Cavs home games and most arena events will be The B Spot on the main concourse level next to the team shop and Bar Symon on the club level on the fourth floor.
The B Spot boasts a modest menu of four burgers, not quite the 12 varieties Symon promises at the Eton location in Woodmere, due to open in November. But Symon says he kept it small to keep it fresh. “If we did 15 different hamburgers on a mass level here, the quality could suffer. Instead, we’re still going to use the same quality of product, but give fewer choices,” he says. “We’re going to give the basic burgers, then have a really expansive condiment section so you can build your own.”
At The Q’s B-Spot, you can choose from four burgers, a simple plain Jane with or without cheese ($7.50) to a Symon Says burger with fried bologna and slaw ($8.50), Cleveland bratwurst ($7) and even his famous Lola fries with rosemary ($4.75). Then, top any of it off with of house made pickles, picked onions, jalapenos, sweet and spicy pickles and Lola sauce.
Upstairs at Bar Symon, the menu is a scaled back version of the one found at the Avon Lake restaurant with a pork pastrami sandwich ($8.50), Symon fried chicken ($11) tossed with parsley and spicy honey, mac-and-cheese ($12.50) with rosemary and goat cheese, house made chips with a choice of two cheese dipping sauces ($4.50) and popcorn, tossed with either chili flakes, feta and oregano or smoked paprika and white cheddar ($4.50). All of these at prices similar to what you’d pay for nachos or a stadium dog — not a bad deal to enjoy signature Symon.
Also at either stand, you can wash it all down with a premium selection of beer including Rogue Dead Guy, Victory Hop Devil or Thirsty Dog.
Suite holders can opt for a few extra treats from Symon including duck confit sliders, a board of assorted sausages and picked vegetables, chilled shrimp with orange, fennel and olives and a root vegetable salad (featured in the Silver Spoons package in the May issue of Cleveland Magazine).
“It’s our interpretation of stadium food,” says Symon, an outspoken advocate for eating local and using fresh ingredients. But is there room for fresh ingredients in mass-produced stadium food? Symon told us yes. He spent the last several months working closely with ARAMARK to ensure the food at his stands offers the same fresh quality ingredients you’ll find outside of the stadium. In many cases, he adds, they are even using the same providers, specifically the same hand-ground burgers and home made bratwurst.