When I got a chance to talk to one of the owners of the new Square Burger, I picked a Tuesday night because I thought that would be a slow night. I don’t think that there are slow nights there.
I’ve watched other businesses open and it is usually a gradual process. Word of mouth is moving at record warp speed for Square Burger, for sure, but according to owner Brandon Horrocks, they are also quickly building up a steady clientele of regulars. Although they’ve only been open eight days, as of Saturday they already had more repeat customers in the house than first timers.
There is a good reason. The food. These aren’t greasy spoon burgers. These are most definitely gourmet burgers. In fact, I asked him if he was worried about maintaining this level of quality, having set the bar so high. He’s not worried. This is what he does – what the whole team does. Between talent and ingredients, it sounds amazing but I think that they may just have it in the bag.
Ingredients first. Finally, here is a high-level transplant that has made a commitment to use as many local ingredients as possible. The beef is supplied fresh daily by Genesis Beef, a local McKinney producer who specializes in grass-fed meat free of growth stimulating hormones. With the exception of the sourdough which is made in-house, the breads come from Empire Baking, a local bakery. The vegetables come from local farmer’s markets. Even the 30 tap draft bar has a focus on local. Franconia has four flavors on tap and will be debutting their seasonal flavors here in a special keg. Of the other 26 flavors, all but four are from the USA. There are two Canadian favorites and two from the UK. There is no substitute for Guiness, after all, and the Young Double Chocolate Stout is used to make a real beer float. (They have regular root beer, too).
If the ingredients sound good, the talent behind them is phenomenal. Owner Brandon Harrocks graduated top of his class from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and served a fellowship at Wolfgang Puck’s celebrity restaurant Granita in Malibu, California. He then went back to the Culinary Institute, graduating with one of the first classes to earn management degress specializing in food service (as opposed to hospitality industry management). He came to the area to work in Patrizio’s and Cafe Pacific, where he was lured away by Goodhues and fell in love with McKinney. (McKinney can do that to a person).
So now he has brought in Executive Chef and partner Craig Brundege and Sous-Chef Ngoc Ngo, both with extensive backgrounds in California gourmet food and experience specifically in the Wolfgang Puck empire. Chef Brundege started out in Cortez and Myth in San Fransisco before moving to Los Angeles to work in Providence, one of the best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles. He then went to work for Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, where he made the fastest rise to Sous-Chef in Wolfgang Puck’s history.
Sous-Chef Ngoc Ngo graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena and went to work at Spago. She must have made quite an impression there because she was then invited to help open Wolfgang Puck’s Cut at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. She then came to Dallas as part of the opening team for 560, the Wolfgang Puck reunion tower restaurant that replaced the old restaurant in the big Dallas ball. She was also the first female grill chef at Abacus. (I’m not sure of the order in which that occurred). It is her previous experience with and interest in cheese and charcuterie that brings some interesting munchies to the table. I’m way out of my depth with that, so I’ll leave that to the real foodies.
All I know is I love a good burger and this takes the concept to a whole new level. I also love to see these kinds of transplants in the area. I can’t help but wonder at the sudden influx of film being shot in the metroplex and the number of gourmet restaurants popping up on the square. I wonder if our sleepy little square may be the next up and coming spot for celebrity watching. Wouldn’t that be neat?
If you rushed to catch the opening, the menu is starting to change a little and they are adding some new things. They introduced the following Chef’s Features on Fathers’ Day:
Corn Soup – sweet summer corn, roasted corn kernels, cipollini onions & bacon
Smoked Salmon “Blinis” – waffle fries with yogurt dill cream, smoked wild king salmon, salmon pearls, red onion & chives
Farmer’s Market Risotto – patty pan squash, grilled baby zuchini, baby carrots & fresh fava beans
Wild Mushroom and Gruyere Omelet – sauteed mixed wild mushrooms, gruyere, roasted potatoes & mache salad
Pan Roasted Alaskan Halibut – english pea puree, peas, cipollini onions, bacon & fumet beurre blanc
Honestly, I don’t know what most of those ingredients are. The menu will continue to be tweaked going forward. Mr. Horrocks tells me that they will have the web site up soon. I’ll keep an eye out for it and get the link up here as soon as possible.
In the meantime, here is a quick list of the burgers they currently offer:
Square Burger – mixed baby greens, tomato, red onion
Bleu Burger – caramelized onion marmalade, baby arugula and creamy bleu cheese on a toasted ciabatta roll
Smoky Jack Burger – smoked mozzarella, monterey jack, crispy apple-smoked bacon and fried onion strings
Mushroom-Border Burger – sauteed mushrooms, avocado slices, crispy baon and spicy cacciotta cheese
High Society Burger – thinly sliced prosciutto di parma, aged balsamic, baby arugula, roasted red pepper relish and fontina
Stadium Burger – grilled onions, dill pickle relish, spicy brown mustard aioli and gruyere
Bacon and Smoked Cheddar BBQ Burger – old rasputin imperial stout bbq sauce, apple smoked bacon, crispy fried onions and aged cheddar
Smoked Salmon Burger – fresh atlantic salmon and smoked wild king salmon with yogurt-dill cream, red onion and chives
Lamb Burger – colorado lamb, garam masal, tzatziki, lettuce, onion and tomato on grilled pita with crumble feta
Turkey Burger – seasoned with fresh herbs and charbroiled
So that’s the hot news on the square at the moment.
Until next time,