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Michael Symon - overhyped/overexposed?

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  • wrsjr Apr 13, 2010 02:47 PM
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Does anyone think that Michael Symon and his ever-growing restaurant empire is getting a little overhyped and/or overexposed? I mean it's great that a Cleveland local is getting national attention, but for those who have been to any of his restaurants recently, do you think the attention is deserved?

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  1. I was wildly unimpressed with Lola - but I loved Roast.

    1. Bar Symon was underwhelming. Lola was pretty good but I'd have to try it again to give a definitive answer(probably not a good sign).

      1. I loved Lola the last time I was there.

        There are some chefs who get national attention and their food is so great you want to say "wow" at every dish, and others who get national attention and their food is just pretty good, no "wow". I thought Lola had the "wow".

        1. Let me also state - Symon's FOOD is quite good. Not mindblowing (aside from what he does with pork and polenta) but I've found the service to be quite subpar, especially at Lola where it was downright BAD. Like Batali I think Symon is an excellent chef, though not the "best" in his particular realm - but not everyone can be the best, so sometimes darn good is enough, and having the personality to work on TV can certainly put you over the top. The setting at Lola, IMO, lacks soul - it is trying to hard, and the servers act like it is a priviledge to eat there.

          Stick to roasted/grilled meats, creamy sides (mac n' cheese, mascarpone polenta,) and if you like pork, go with it - just don't expect service to come with a smile.

          1. I ate at Lola once and thought that it was good but not great. I do think that his fame is great for Cleveland and I hope that his notoriety will foster a growing culinary scene in Cleveland.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kelli2006

              Dante, Greenhouse Tavern, Crop..........seems to be helping. :-)

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              The Greenhouse Tavern
              2038 E 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

            2. I don't think he is overhyped, but I do worry about overexposed, it's so much growth, so quickly, I just worry about that. Other celeb chefs have multiple restaurant locations, yes, but I'm not sure they all sprang up within a couple of years in the same general area (in one county, let's say). And that's not counting Roast. As much as I love having many choices of Symon places to visit, I would rather see him go to the next level with a restaurant in LA or Vegas instead of just opening more burger joints around the greater Cleveland area.

              8 Replies
              1. re: rockandroller1

                If I were a betting man I'd say NYC is next - bigger scene, and Food Network studios are there.

                1. re: uhockey

                  NYC has been done. Parea. Greek. opened and closed. I think it got great reviews too.

                  1. re: lyn

                    I'm aware - he lacked celebrity then and his "style" wasn't quite as defined.

                    1. re: uhockey

                      not true and not true.also, PAREA was not a permanent chef job, just consulting.

                      1. re: uhockey

                        NYC does not need to import celebrity. it creates them

                  2. re: rockandroller1

                    I think it's great that he's staying local and true to where he believes in. I think when "celebrity" chefs start opening these mega-restaurant hot-spots, it just becomes a brand. While I would obviously like to see him succeed wherever he decides to go, I am not about to complain about having too much Michael Symon in my backyard. While I understand the criticism (and am pretty peeved about his new Cooking Channel show), believe in him and his food and his passion

                    1. re: emmaleeb

                      What show of his are you peeved about? "How to cook like a Iron Chef." or some other one?

                      1. re: JanPrimus

                        Yeah - "How To Cook Like An Iron Chef." I'm not really peeved about his involvement with it, I guess I'm just more nervous because Food Network has really gone so far downhill so fast and I think the majority of their personalities are kind of a joke at this point. I'd hate to see him fall into that category by default :-/

                  3. Have you tried "B Spot" burger in Woodmere, Ohio? Really, really great burgers and the sides are just as delicious.
                    A few years ago we ran into Mike Symon in an elevator in downtown Minneapolis while doing a James Beard dinner, really nice down to earth guy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: nemis

                      Michael Symon’s B-SPOT

                      Grade: C+
                      B Spot's meat was dry, pattie was small. I did love the Shasha hot pepper sauce at the table though. Yum. Another thing: Attn LADIES>>>If you have to use the restroom go out in the Eton mall. The one-room bathroom at B Spot is unisex and I went in after some dude was in there and, well... there was splatter everywhere. Disgusting.

                      Hubby gave it a C-

                      The only thing keeping hubby from giving it a D was the Koelsch German beer (where can we get this beer around here? We loved it!) . Hubby was not pleased with the WAY too skinny fries and the small burger.

                      On a positive note: We went when there was no wait because of a blizzard a while back…definitely not worth the 2-hour wait on weekends I’ve heard from others.

                      Mr. Symon does seem like a nice guy though... I wish him nothing but the best.
                      We just did not enjoy our food at B Spot. Haven't tried Lola yet.

                    2. I've been a fan of Symon's since Melting Pot days. His iron is hot now and he is striking. Good for him! Lola fries are amazingly delicate with a hint of rosemary. They are not your average burger side kick. Lolita has the best roasted beats and brussle sprout sides around. I had a succulent whole roasted fish their a few weeks back that was amazing. Service was perfect. My only time at Lola was amazing, too.each of my party of 6 ordered 6 different app, enrees, & desserts to mix and taste. All were great, some better then others. The waitress brought us a 7th dessert for free so we could try the complete offering. They were wonderful. For me Symon put Cleveland on the national food map. He's worked 20+ years and deserves all the splash. Everyone in Cleveland benefits.

                      1. I have been to Roast twice and have really enjoyed it. Both times the service was very good. I am happy he's opened a place in Detroit...we need all the help we can get. Don't forget that he's also got his "Live to Cook" cookbook (co-authored by the infamous Michael Ruhlman). There's a lot of simple and delicious recipes. Try the mac & cheese with goat cheese, rosemary and roasted chicken!

                        1. My husband and I ate at Lolita during a drive through Ohio last winter. I thought my food was quite good, but I agree with some of you that the service was quite off. We had reservations, but waited a good 20 minutes for a table - no apologies or anything from the staff. And when we ordered our wine, our waiter re-pronounced the wine we ordered as though we had pronounced it incorrectly (we just got back from a year in France, we know how to pronounce it thank you very much). And when I asked questions about the menu, such as whether or not the cheese on the cheese plate was sheep/cow/etc., he didn't know the answers and didn't seem inclined to find out. So, that was sort of unimpressive...

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: anakalia

                            Totally agree with this.

                            1. re: anakalia

                              Now, I'm not trying to defend crappy service or a lousy attitude (*far* be it from me...), but is it possible that the kid with the wine pronunciation problem was repeating it in his vernacular in order to make sure he knew the proper wine to serve you? It's possible, at least in my mind, that with your different (and admittedly more correct) pronunciation, he was just trying to be clear and sure, so he said it in the way he was familiar with. Honest: it may just be that he didn't know for sure, and was trying to clarify.

                              Again, I'm *not* trying to defend a lousy/superior attitude if that's what was coming across, but sometimes when you're a dumb American like me, you try your best when it comes to foreign words, and if they're said differently than you might expect to say or hear them (or, worse yet, than you've been *trained* to hear and pronounce them), you might want to clarify to make sure.

                              1. re: boagman

                                boagman - Yes, you are right, that could have been what happened. Especially since he didn't really seem like he was *trying* to be a jerk. It is possible that the women in the front of the house with the reservation issues sort of put me "off" to the service and that the waiter really was just a little confused.
                                Still odd service, but perhaps not really rude or unfriendly.

                            2. I loved Lolita in terms of atmosphere and food, but I do agree that the service was a bit off. However, as someone who's dined at Roast several times, I can say that I've never had anything but five-star service ... nor witnessed it. And the times Symon's been in town, he's made his presence known. Compare it to the schizophrenic Wolfgang Puck at MGM in Detroit, and I'd say Mike is doing everything right.

                              1. I have never heard of this Michael Symon chap so my answer would be "no".

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Sailing77

                                  I've been to Roast twice to eat and once for a happy hour and had great experiences. The beer list there is fantastic and the staff knew it quite well. The food was great, fwiw the best fine dining in the D.

                                2. NO. Think you Clevelanders have lost your minds or tastebuds! He needs to open more restaurants on the East Side including one in University Circle and another in Beachwood

                                  A+ Lola - great value, terrific food, mindblowing meat and savory fish preps (5+ times dining, great experiences, great wine list, excellent service, never a less than exceptional meal or disagreeable server)
                                  A+ Lolita - A bit of the West Village in Cleveland. Even better value with food just as good (or arguably better according to my spouse), definitely more fun (Have been there 10-12 times). Would cost 50% more in NYC

                                  A- for B Spot - Fast food at it's best! Nine dollar fabulous burgers may not as good as the one Daniel Buloud charges 35 bucks for, but fabulous offerings and the best in fast food. Onion rings are to die for. What's all the fuss?- pass the Lipitor, I'm going back there....

                                  1. I dined at Lola - Michael Symon Cleveland restaurant last month with 2 close friends of mine, one who had to go to the Cleveland Clinic. We were lucky enough to be able to have both lunch & dinner there. We all ordered different items for both lunch & dinner. We shared soups, and desserts. We enjoyed every bite of our meals.
                                    Seasonal Soup Beef Cheek Pierogie horseradish, mushroom
                                    Rosemary Fries
                                    Grilled Hanger Steak
                                    Chicken with chick peas
                                    Arctic Char
                                    Dinner
                                    Soup with lobster and other ingredients
                                    Sturgeon potato, mushroom, baby carrots, cipollini onions
                                    Beef Hanger Steak
                                    Halibut with morel mushroom, baby carrot, roasted artichoke “pesto” lemon

                                    Dessert

                                    “6 A. M. Special” pound cake french toast, maple-bacon ice cream, caramelized
                                    apple
                                    Milk Chocolate & Pecan Bar parsnip-caramel ice cream, fried parsnip, citrus,
                                    gelee, sea salt
                                    The Pear Nice martini was awesome.. I will definitely go back to Lola and hope to go to Detroit's Roast and Lolita's as well.... I also purchased Michael's cookbook.

                                    1. I went to Cleveland recently and ate at Michael Symon's Lola. I can't speak for any of his other restaurants and I don't claim to be a food connoisseur, but in my personal opinion Lola was the best restaurant I have ever eaten at. The Smoked Berkshire Pork Chop and the Roasted Chicken were absolutely to die for. The portions were perfect, and the prices weren't too bad, especially considering the quality of the meal. Our waitress was friendly and attentive, the atmosphere was very pleasant, even the butter served with our bread tasted extraordinary. My favorite part of the meal by far was Michael Symon's 6 A.M. Special. The pound cake french toast with maple and bacon ice cream was irresistible. Based on my experience at Lola which I would definitely consider a 5 star restaurant, I don't think Symon is being overhyped at all. If you are ever in Ohio, I definitely recommend dinner at Lola's.

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                                      Lola
                                      2058 East 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

                                      1. Howdy: I hope you are well.

                                        I would have to agree with what others here have said about Roast. I had a truly wonderful experience there, the food was very well prepared, enjoyed the bone marrow and our porterhouse for two was just tasty. We also had exceptional service that was there when we needed and not when there when needed. I also did not find it to be overpriced for our food and experience. I think I will have to try some of the others but it looks like from here that Roast may be a bit better then the others.

                                        Best regards, tony

                                        1. In short, I say no-- not overhyped, and yes-- the attention is deserved. I've only eaten once at Lola and twice at Lolita, but numerous times at B Spot; I've also started working through "Live to Cook".

                                          The meals I had at Lola and Lolita were very good, and I have no complaints about the service at either restaurant. Similarly, I have had some truly amazing burgers at B Spot. The thing that I love most about Symon's restaurants is that the dishes are very thoughtfully composed, and each item strikes a good balance between the "tried-and-true" and more innovative ideas.

                                          Also, I really appreciate that Symon makes his food so accessible. He's not too fancy-pants to open a burger joint or, heck, a concession stand. The recipes for his sauces and many of his signature dishes are in his cookbook. He doesn't cater to the latest crazed-foodie-driven trend. I think that these are unique features that are good cause for hype!

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                                          B Spot
                                          28699 Chagrin Blvd, Woodmere, OH 44122