Just in time for the summer strolling season comes the newest addition to the Village of Rochester Hills, the collection of upscale shops and restaurants in an idealized small town setting not far from Oakland University.
B Spot Burgers seems to be a perfect fit. Its crowd-pleasing menu, completely casual ambiance and distinctive touches like a help-yourself pickle bar donít seem to come from a corporate drawing board even though it is one of five B Spots in a growing mini-empire in Ohio and Michigan that will add two more local options this year, including one at 310 S. Main in Royal Oak. The Comerica Park area is also being considered.
Chef Michael Symon, whose Roast in the Westin Book Cadillac in downtown Detroit was his first foray into Michigan, is the creative spirit behind B Spot, and his emphasis on quality ingredients sets apart what otherwise might seem like routine hamburger joints.
The letter B also stands for beer and bourbon, the two beverages that are particularly emphasized along with the burgers, which come in no less than 13 variations from the Lola, named for Symonís flagship restaurant in Cleveland, a concoction that includes a sunny-side-up egg, bacon, pickled onions and cheddar cheese, to the Fat Doug that pairs pastrami, mustard and coleslaw with the beef patty. The crisp, thin Lola fries dusted with rosemary are the almost required accompaniment.
Every variation on the burger theme is present here, including turkey, pulled pork, veggie and even bologna, to be piled on one of the glossy brioche buns, which are notable in their own right. If one of the stated combinations doesnít hit the target, diners may create their own from a long list of ingredients. No less three dozen choices could make ordering a long process.
The only problem with piling too many add-ons atop the burger is that they tend to mask the quality of the beef itself. Better to start with the simplest burger with just lettuce, tomato and thinly sliced red onion in order to appreciate the beef centerpiece. It is made from a special blend of cuts and it is worth savoring. Itís most important to note that B Spot has its own view of doneness, spelled out on the menu. Someone who would ordinarily order a medium or medium rare burger will have to ask for medium well here. Well done is a concept Symon doesnít seem to recognize.
Thereís a very good childrenís menu at a flat $5.99 with such choices as two mini-burgers, grilled chicken and grilled cheese with a choice of sides that include avocado, apple, salad and yogurt as well as fries, and drinks include housemade lemonade.
The setting is a single room that seats 85 at tables, booths and at the U-shaped bar under a canopy of what appear to be metal car parts for a touch of industrial chic. Atop each table is a roll of paper towels, and thatís just one of the little touches that add to the comfort level.
It does get noisy, but thereís the option of a patio with umbrella tables to get away from the din at prime time.
B Spot Burgers
Village of Rochester Hills shopping center
176 N. Adams, Rochester Hills
Call: (248) 218-6001
Rating: 3 stars (out of 4)
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun. Happy hour 3-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
Prices: Burgers $7.99-$9.99, other sandwiches $5.99-$9.99, salads $4.99-$10.99, sides $3.99-$8.99, milkshakes $5.99-$6.99
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar with an emphasis on beer and bourbon
Noise level: High
Parking: Street and nearby lots
Wheelchair access: No barriers