Celebrity chef Michael Symon’s long-awaited B Spot Burgers opened Saturday in Rochester Hills with all of the company’s signature features: the first-day line at the door, the colorful beer-can wall, the free pickle bar, the rosemary-spiked Lola fries, the long list of craft brews, and — the biggest reason to go — award-winning burgers with big flavors and distinctive toppings.
Symon — best known as the Food Network Iron Chef with the bald head and infectious laugh — was on hand for the opening, working in the kitchen and greeting and posing for photos with scores of enthusiastic guests.
But I waited until Tuesday, when the excitement had subsided a bit, to drop in anonymously for my first look at the first B Spot Burger outside Cleveland, Symon’s hometown. Later this year, metro Detroit’s second B Spot will open in downtown Royal Oak, and the third will locate in Partridge Creek Mall in Clinton Township.
The Rochester Hills place seems slightly smaller and has fewer pieces of edgy, colorful art than the Strongsville, Ohio, location I’ve visited before. But the menu is the same, with 13 specialty burgers ($6.99-$9.99) plus a big build-your-own list; a trio of salads ($7.99-$10.99); a fun lineup of brats, bologna, and other sandwich choices ($5.99-$8.99) and Symon’s grown-up Bad A** Shakes ($5.99-$6.99).
Also, the same is the real key to B Spot’s success: its ingredients. The juicy burgers — made with a custom blend of beef cuts — have deep, meaty flavors and perfect texture. And the brioche buns are substantial enough to hold up to multiple, often-messy toppings like those on the Lola burger, with a sunny-side egg, bacon, pickled red onions, and cheddar cheese, or the Fat Doug with coleslaw, pastrami, Stadium Mustard and Swiss cheese.
Turkey burgers, grilled chicken, and veggie burgers are available for those who don’t want beef.
Beer and bourbon fans will love the beverage menu, which features great craft brews — many from Michigan — and about a dozen bourbons. At happy hour (3-6 p.m., Mon.-Fri.), draft beers are $3; wine by the glass $4; signature cocktails, $6; bourbons, $5; and well drinks are $4. And an order of crisp, shoestring-like Lola fries is $1.
A tip if you’re going: Call an hour before you plan to arrive to add your name to the wait list; see the hostess when you get there, and, if necessary, you can walk around the shopping mall until receiving a text that your table is ready. For burger fans, it’s worth the wait.
B Spot Burger Location
The first Michigan B Spot Burger opened in Rochester Hills in May 2014, and the second opened in Royal Oak in November of the same year. But the brand has cut back a lot in the past year, with restaurants closing in Indianapolis, Columbus, and Rochester Hills, among other places. The B Spot website is being built right now.
Alternative to B Spot Burger. Michael Symon still owns and runs the high-end steakhouse Roast at the Westin Book Cadillac in downtown Detroit, which makes a damn fine burger.