Chow Down - Enjoy the Creations of Celebrity Chefs
February 11, 2011 | Permalink
Flipping through TV channels these days, you will likely see some wild chef chopping, sautéing, and seasoning away. While certain, ah, “delicacies” being prepared would send most of us running (pig cheek? really?), some of the dishes look pretty tasty. What’s exciting is that many of these TV celebrity chefs have their own restaurants around the country. Although some of the establishments are rather exotic (in terms of both food and prices), many feature widely appealing menus, often with more reasonable prices than you might expect.
Los Angeles is home to many celebrity chefs’ restaurants. Wolfgang Puck, seen not only on Food Network but also on major networks like NBC, CBS, and Fox (including a 2002 guest appearance on The Simpsons), has L.A. restaurants ranging from the trendy and pricey (Spago, Cut, and Chinois) to the more casual. Among the latter are Wolfgang Puck Bistro (Costa Mesa) and half a dozen Wolfgang Puck Express locations in the area. These franchised restaurants can also be found across the U.S.—Las Vegas, Tulsa, Dallas, D.C., Detroit, and Minneapolis, as well as in many major airports. Two other early stars of TV cooking shows, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (Food Network’s series “Too Hot Tamales” and “Tamales World Tour”) run another celebrity chef restaurant in L.A., Border. Stop in for reasonably priced, fresh and delicious Mexican food.
If you find yourself a few hundred miles north on the TV celeb chef circuit, hit one of the Johnny Garlic’s in Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay area. Owned by Guy Fieri of Food Network’s hilarious Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, the menus offer both interesting and comfortable choices at reasonable prices, including perfectly grilled steaks, pasta, seafood, burgers, sandwiches, and seasonal specials (in the fall, try the butternut squash soup). Everything is served up in a fun, sports-bar atmosphere. But be warned: portions are generous, so be sure to stay in a hotel with facilities to refrigerate and reheat what you can’t finish—and can’t bear to leave behind.
Maybe you don’t associate top chefs with Cleveland, Ohio, but that’s home to Iron Chef Michael Symon and several of his restaurants. Lola’s, Symon’s first restaurant, is mid-range expensive ($30-60 entrees) and features unusual menu items like beef cheek pierogies, plus steaks and chicken. The more casual and affordable Lolita’s does include pork belly pasta, but alongside that on the menu are pizza, roast chicken, steaks, and pork chops, plus a great mac and cheese that can also be ordered as a happy hour snack. Cleveland Cavaliers fans can sample Symon’s “burgers, beers, and brats” at The B-Spot or at Bar Symon, right in Quicken Loans Arena.
If home-cookin’ in the gracious South sounds more appealing, Paula Deen’s (Food Network) The Lady & Sons restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, is sure to please. You can choose from the à la carte menu for trendier dishes, like crab-stuffed portobello, or go hog-wild at the buffet, with its southern classics like spareribs, collard greens, country-fried steak, and peach cobbler.
And of course, any tour of celebrity chefs’ restaurants has to include some of the Bobby Flay (Throw-Down, Boy Meets Grill, etc.) eateries. We recommend a visit to Long Island’s Bobby’s Burger Palace (BBP) for fancy and classic burgers, loaded with fresh ingredients and naturally topped with chips (a Flay signature), all in the $6.50-7.50 range. Like any self-respecting burger joint, the place also serves up milkshakes and malteds, also in classic and outrageous (blueberry-pomegranate) flavors. If all that has your mouth watering and your heart despairing because your next business trip is not to NYC but Philly—no problem. BBPs are also located in New Jersey, Connecticut, and yes, Philadelphia.
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