Background: Butcher & the Burger's first location opened two years ago in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. There, it's a combination old-fashioned butcher shop and hamburger restaurant where you can order a grass-fed Wagyu beef burger, but also take home locally sourced, uncooked meat. They even offer butchery classes. It's odd then that such an original concept has now opened in the food court at Boca's Town Center. But co-owner Joseph Arnold says they were approached by Town Center owner Simon Malls, which wanted to bring more culinary-driven concepts to the food court. Across from Butcher & the Burger, El Jefe Luchador, the Mexican restaurant in Deerfield Beach, is getting set to open.
Overall impression: Butcher & the Burger's pedigree raised my curiosity enough to bring me to the land of bourbon chicken and no-name pizza slices. I have to learn to lower my expectations. While the restaurant is different from typical food-court restaurants in that it uses top-notch ingredients, the execution isn't so good.
The menu: Diners choose from among eight patties ($6.95-$13.50), including four kinds of beef, bison, turkey, chicken and vegan); seven spice combinations, including Chicago steak house and curry-coconut-honey; four buns, including split-top, wheat, lettuce and pretzel; and six kinds of cheese and condiments. Extras include truffle mayo ($1), duck egg ($1.50) and caramelized onions (50 cents). The idea is to build your own, but we ordered three of the so-called Butcher's Specials, which are created by the house and offer a broad taste of the menu.
The burgers: Grass-fed beef tends to be a bit leaner, and that could be why the Grass Fed burger ($10.50) was so dry. Griddle-cooked, it seemed underseasoned and was served with an overwhelming amount of bread and butter pickles. They took over the taste of the burger. A ground-chicken burger ($7.75) was better, but its so-called Cajun seasoning tasted as if the lid had fallen off the pepper shaker. The patty itself, however, was moist and tender. The veggie burger ($7.50), made with lentils and brown rice, seasoned with curry-coconut-honey and topped with goat cheese, lettuce, pickle and tomato, was our favorite of the three we tasted.
Sides: For $4, you can add hand-cut Kennebec fries and a soda to any burger. Unfortunately, the fries were soggy, which I think is unforgivable in any burger restaurant. Homemade dill pickles ($2) were a little heavy on either cloves or allspice, which I don't remember my dad using in his dills.
Ambience: Butcher & the Burger tried to bring a bit of the butcher shop to its spot in the food court by using subway tile on its back wall. But it still feels like another food-court offering.
Sweet!: Beignets ($1 each or $5 for six) can be had with powdered sugar or cinnamon. Tough and rubbery, these are not the light and fluffy beignets of New Orleans.
Service: It took 12 minutes to receive our food after we ordered. That's about right for a sit-down restaurant, but not quick enough in the fast-casual world of the food court. We were told our name would be called when our order was ready, but that left us thinking we needed to sit as close to the counter as possible. The restaurant next door had a staff member asking its guests if they needed soda refills. Not so for Butcher & the Burger.
Hours: Lunch and dinner daily
Credit cards: All major
Sound level: Food court conversational
For kids: Highchairs
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Parking: Free lot