April 21, 2014

Elyria
Sunny
55°F
test

Iron Chef Michael Symon is closing Avon Lake restuarant

AVON LAKE — Lorain County is losing its Iron Chef.

Bar Symon, shown here, shared a shopping center with a closed Tops grocery store. (CT file photo.)

Bar Symon, shown here, shared a shopping center with a closed Tops grocery store. (CT file photo.)

Michael Symon announced Tues­day that Bar Symon, his Avon Lake venture featuring his take on bar food, would close at the end of the month.

This is the first Symon establish­ment in Ohio to close.

On his Facebook page Tuesday, Symon said he was “very sad” about the closing. He said the restaurant’s concept “truly reflects what I love to eat.”

Symon added that customers with gift cards or gift certificates to Bar Symon can have them refunded or use them at one of Symon’s other restaurants.

The approximately 40 employees at Bar Symon will reportedly be offered jobs at Symon’s other estab­lishments: Lola and Lolita in Cleve­land, B-Spot in Woodmere and the B-Spot in Strongsville, which is pro­jected to open in January.

Bar Symon opened in July 2009 at the site of the former Swingos Grand Tavern, which closed in February 2009. The restaurant is in Avon Lake’s Towne Center, which lost the Tops grocery store in 2006. The plaza has not had a full-time tenant to occupy the space left by Tops. A temporary Halloween-themed store is currently renting there.

Symon, also known for his bald head and a distinctive laugh, had the place renovated to fit the more open, casual vibe he was going for.

The Bar Symon menu featured playful, sometimes upscale, twists on classic tavern food. Dishes included homemade potato chips, sliders made with duck confit, maca­roni and cheese with goat cheese and rosemary, lake perch fried in a batter made with Great Lakes Brew­ing Co. Dortmunder Gold beer, and a “Cleveland Classic” plate featuring pierogi, kielbasa, cabbage cooked in hard cider and served with a Sta­dium Mustard sauce. Symon even created a bar-inspired dessert with the “Beer and Pretzel” sundae featuring homemade Guinness ice cream with fudge and caramel sauces and crumbled pretzels.

Prices ranged from $5 for Symon’s signature Lola matchstick fries flavored with rosemary and parmesan to $25 for the Friday special of grilled lobster with escarole and orange and a dill beurre blanc.

Symon had been on a major winning streak ever since winning the inaugural Food Network competition show “The Next Iron Chef” in 2007. With that victory over New Orleans chef John Besh in the season finale, Symon become one of the network’s vaunted Iron Chefs alongside celebrity chefs Masaharu Morimoto, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Cat Cora. Jose Garces won the most recent competition and is the newest Iron Chef.

He has recently expanded his TV presence, with “Cook Like an Iron Chef” on the Cooking Channel and the new Food Network show “Food Fueds,” which has him settling which version of a local food, such as Philadelphia cheesesteaks or Detroit-style hot dogs, is the best. He also spent a season filling in as host of “Dinner: Impossible” in 2008 when host Robert Irvine was caught in a small scandal over the veracity of his credentials.

In the last five years, Symon moved Lola from its original Tremont neighborhood location to downtown Cleveland’s East Fourth Street. The old Lola spot became Lolita. He opened Roast in Detroit in 2008, followed by Bar Symon and the Woodmere B-Spot in 2009. He also created menu items in 2009 to be served at Quicken Loans Arena, with two existing restaurants renamed Bar Symon and B-Spot.

His attempt to crack the New York dining scene with Parea in 2006 did not work despite some good reviews, and he left the restaurant in 2007.

Contact Melissa Hebert at 329-7129 or mhebert@chroniclet.com.