(2011) Square 1 Burgers & Bar has moved into and refitted the space once occupied by Lonjevity across the South Trail from Sarasota Memorial Hospital. With a design motif blending cowhide with brushed aluminum and black lacquer, it’s an agreeable midtown destination for a burger and a beer.
We’re fond of grazing at the bar, and this is a good spot for it. It’s a full liquor bar, but what caught our eye was the array of taps offering an exemplary selection of draught beers from all over, as well as an even wider selection by the bottle. From the kegs, Colette chose a Sierra Nevada pale ale ($4.25), while I popped for a Stella Artois ($5). Really, there’s no better accompaniment for a burger than a freshly drawn brew.
Although we were tempted by the fried dill pickle chips and what sounds like an authentic beanless chili, we skipped over the appetizers, salads and soups in favor of the main attraction, an extensive list of imaginatively dressed burgers starring Angus beef with chicken, buffalo, pulled pork, tuna, ostrich and vegetarian options in supporting roles.
The burger menu starts off with an assortment of the little sliders that continue to enjoy a heyday and moves on to the big guns. We pondered for some time before settling on a très Southern pimiento cheeseburger with sweet potato fries for her and a barbecue bacon burger with regular fries for him (both $9.99). Both featured good beef cooked to a red-centered medium rare as ordered. We could have substituted Kobe beef for her or buffalo for him at an extra five bucks each.
The pimento cheese is described as housemade, and we believe it. Combined with toppings of applewood smoked bacon and a dollop of crunchy cole slaw, it made a fine two-napkin gut buster, as did the barbecue burger. The latter also is crowned with bacon, as well as a good smoky but understated sauce and melted sharp cheddar.
The sweet potato fries were first-rate, crisp and lightly salted to let the tuber’s natural sweetness shine. The regular fries also were excellent, with not a frazzled klinker in the bunch.
The burgers left us with little room for traditional dessert, but not to worry: Square 1 offers a fine option in the form of a sampler of three mini cupcakes for $3.50, a perfect solution offering vibrant little tastes without foundering the diner. We chose carrot, red velvet and dark chocolate minis, each providing us a bite apiece, and loved all three.
Square 1 Burgers & Bar
1737 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
Phone: (941) 870-8111
Bar: full bar, wine and beer
Hours: 11 a.m. -11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, ’til midnight Friday-Saturday
Cards: all major
Handicapped accessible: yes
Parking: in lot