Square 1 – 900 South Orlando Avenue Winter Park Florida
Square 1 Burger, the Tampa based restaurant chain, has recently opened a location in Winter Park on the corner of Minnesota and Orlando Avenue. Square 1 became the first tenant at the Corner Commons project in Winter Park a couple of months ago occupying 5,000 square feet on the corner of the re-imagined strip mall, leased by Brokers Liberty Universal Management Inc.
This full-service burger restaurant has ample free parking to the rear and features an outdoor dining area with counter seating at an indoor/outdoor bar, normal counter seating available internally. The décor is sort of Wild West meets Beauty and the Beast, with cow hide covered booths and western themed aspects, but with the chandeliers and other classic elements, and guess what it works!
All new restaurants take time to find their feet and Square 1 is no exception, after eating there on a few occasions, the best way to describe my experience would be inconsistent. On my first visit, shortly after opening, the meet and greet by the hostess was immediate and welcoming, she walked me through the menu options, beverage selections and daily deals with knowledge and attention, the burgers were good and bar service OK. On subsequent visits the food was better or at least as good, but the service and bar service was worse. As my passion is to bring you only the best restaurant experiences, I will never commit to print and give valuable column space to restaurants that are not up to scratch, but in this case there are elements that are very good and I feel they deserve the chance and time to get it right. Whether customers will allow that time remains to be seen, as the old saying you never get a second chance to make a first impression, which goes double in the restaurant industry, but special focus needs to be made in the areas of meet and greet, bar service knowledge and product availability, plus the big one, recruiting and training the best waiting staff you can afford.
The menu consists of Appetizers, Sliders, Soups and Salads,100% Angus Burgers, Specialty and Vegetarian, Cocktails & Shakes, Beer & Wine not forgetting the Kids and Desserts selection. “We take pride in our proteins “, jumps out from the menu and they intelligently list the provenance of their Beef, Chicken, Durham Lamb, Wyoming Durham Buffalo and American Kobe beef, giving the customer a sense of security especially when requesting a lower temperature preparation on their burger. They also use award-winning Wisconsin cheese. All burgers & sandwiches are served with a choice of side and are available on a bed of greens, giving a choice of side is a nice touch and an alternative to the usual French fry only options, they have a choice of Baked Beans, Steamed Broccoli, Cole Slaw, French Fries, Onion Rings, Garlic Green Beans, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, some substitutions seemed to be OK but additional cost may apply.
I found the “Stand Out” dishes to be:
House-made Double-Dipped Onion Rings Served with Sooner sauce (Somewhat like a spicy thousand island dressing). – Simply great onion rings, I never bother to get uneaten food boxed to go anywhere I eat, but admit I made the exception here!!
Barbeque Bacon Burger – Applewood-smoked bacon, sharp cheddar and Barbeque sauce on a sesame-seed bun with lettuce, red onion and beefsteak tomato. They really can cook a burger here, crisp on the outside and a prefect medium rare on the inside.
Buffalo Bob Ground Buffalo – Applewood-smoked bacon, double-dipped onion rings and spicy beer cheese sauce on a sesame-seed bun. For the uninitiated, compared to beef, buffalo has a lighter flavor, tastes slightly sweet and is deliciously tender. Buffalo meat is naturally lower in fat, calories and cholesterol than beef. That’s the science, but what you really want to know is how it tastes? The answer is it tastes great.
Kobe Pimento – Two mini Kobe burgers topped with Applewood-smoked bacon, green bell pepper, pimento cheese and coleslaw. Having smaller burgers does not detract from the quality or taste.
3-Mushroom Porcini-Portobello-and garden-mushroom sauté and Gruyere cheese on a whole-wheat bun with Sooner sauce. The nuttiness of the Gruyere cheese combined with the juicy Portobello gives this burger a unique flavor.
Most Disappointing dish, I tried:
Woo Hoo Fries – Crispy fries drenched in beefy mushroom gravy with Monterey Jack cheese. – Square 1 version of Poutine, the mushroom gravy missed the mark, better to stick to the original recipe.
The bar serves a section of the usual draft beers Stella, Budweiser but they also have Yuengling my personal favorite, so I was well satisfied. Bottled beers include Corona, Heineken, Michelob, Sam Adams and Miller Lite nothing too adventurous or “Craft”
A small wine selection compliments the beers, I found these two at a good price and quality
Montes Twins – Malbec Cabernet Blend from Chile
Murphy-Goode – Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma
Service as previously stated is inconsistent, I have been greeted (or at least acknowledged) and seated immediately but also ignored for some time and watched other potential customers leave frustrated.
I have had the best of service, but also lack luster, inattentive and unknowledgeable servers, who have either been badly trained or need to be somewhere else.
Insider Tips for Square 1 Burger
House-made Double-Dipped Onion Rings only $4 on Wednesday. Fantastic value
Very busy road intersection and queueing traffic, so unsure of the quality you can expect when dining outside
Great Happy Hour and special day offers
Happy Hours – Every Day 3pm to 6pm & 9pm to close
All-American Tuesday! – An All-American burger & a beer for $10.99.
Onion Ring Wednesday! $4 Onion Rings all day.
Thirsty Thursday Drink Offers
Square 1 has a lot going for it. Ease of parking, good burgers, great design elements and fantastic deals at happy hours and special days, but with an advertising strap line that says “Find your Awesome” I can honestly say I did not find my awesome at this location, YET! As previously mentioned any new business needs time to bed in, the discrepancies in service both bar and table side I am sure will be ironed out and as staff become more accustomed to the menu and offer, confusion will be replaced with the ability to guide guests through their experience. Once achieved Square 1 will be a great burger choice that should not disappoint.
I will return and update.