Michael Symon has a cadre of haunts he hits in whatever city he happens to be in and he shares some of them on the new Food Network series “Burgers, Brew & ‘Que.”
As the title suggests, the half-hour series, which premieres Friday, July 17, is all about hamburgers, craft beers and barbecued meat, or what Symon calls “my three favorite food groups,” as he hits joints, full-service restaurants and even upscale eateries in New York City, Nashville, Tenn., and his hometown of Cleveland.
“It’s really kind of like the joints and places that I’ve discovered over 30 years of cooking professionally,” he tells Zap2it, “that you could sneak out to and have a really ice cold beer and some delicious, simple food.”
In the opening episode, Symon heads to Nashville and Hattie B’s to try its traditional hot chicken.
“It’s a style of chicken that started in Nashville about 60-70 years ago,” Symon explains. “… Essentially after they fry the chicken they take a little bit of the fat from the fryer and mix it with a bunch of chillies and different kinds of powders and hot sauces. And when the chicken comes out of the fryer, they toss it again in that superhot oil. … Usually when you go, you can get just plain fried chicken, a little spicy, spicy, spicier and then insanely spicy. … . The place we went, the superhot one they called ‘Shut the Cluck Up.’ ”
The temperature then comes down a few degrees in New York, where Symon hits Mighty Quinn’s to sample the brontosaurus beef ribs, where the meat is tasty and tender but not falling off the bone.
“Proper barbecue should never completely come off the bone,” he says. “When you bite into it, it should have a little bit of resistance, where you would actually see your teeth marks in the meat. So it’s smoked for a long time. I think that one was done like 15 or 16 hours, so it had a really deep smoked flavor and a great smoke ring and wonderful bark.”
Then there is the brunch burger at Cleveland’s Flying Fig, which has a very unusual topping.
“The brunch burger was at an old friend of mine’s restaurant, Karen Small,” Symon says. “She does an insane brunch at her restaurant, and one of the things she does at brunch is a burger with locally sourced beef, locally sourced bacon, homemade bun, a fried egg on top. Just really delicious.”