Square One in Boca Raton proves to be a puzzle

Square One, the view from Glades Road

Square One’s main dining room


Up-selling, out-of-date menus, a missing knife, a salty pork chop, and desserts that lacked sweetness suggest that the early  positive reviews, perhaps, were wrong

Square-1, also known as Back to Square One and Cube 21, is a puzzle similar to the Rubik’s Cube. The Boca Raton restaurant Square One also is a puzzle.

Open less than a year, Square One’s early reviews suggested a restaurant of great promise. A recent experience proved otherwise.

The large restaurant,the brainchild of Jon Greening and Eric Clark, veterans of Rapoport’s Restaurant Group, replaced the ill-fated Brewzzie’s on Glades Road. It’s been redone inside. Wood planks in various hues grace the booths and whitewashed bricks line the walls. Large screen TVs hang above the bar, which faces out on Glades Road. The ceilings are high and the room, which can accommodate 300 diners, is dimly lit, but not so much that you can’t read the menu.

And that menu, according to the Sun-Sentinel, was designed to be cutting edge and affordable. The menu is lengthy and should appeal to great variety of diners, vegetarians and vegans excepted. There are burgers, pizzas and more elaborate entrees. And a three-course, $29 prix-fixe menu, featuring five popular entrees, offered both variety and value. Oddly, some of the menus provided to my guests and me were apparently out of date. Our server apologized.

The restaurant was surprisingly empty during a recent mid-week peak-season visit, save for a group of older women, a group of millennial parents with their screaming toddlers, and my companions and me.

We weren’t seated very long before our server began an evening of up-sell attempts, starting with bottled water and quickly followed by a suggestion that we order a pricey ($43) ribeye tomahawk steak.  She was a bit too pushy, especially on food recommendations, which made some of us uncomfortable.

Tomato bisque

Short rib ragu

Bone-in pork chop

Nevertheless, our meal got off to auspicious start with a large cheese and charcuterie board—more than enough for the four of us. It featured a display of twisted bread sticks, spicy chorizo; capicollo—sort of a cross between prosciutto and sausage, and Italian salami. The also were three cheeses, only one was identified by our server, a rock-hard aged Gouda, that worked splendidly with the accompanying Florida honey. There also were green grapes, black and green olives and cornichon (gherkin) pickles.

Timing of our orders, however, seemed out of whack. We were still working our way through the platter of cheeses and sliced meats when our appetizers appeared. Our bowls of tomato bisque had to sit. The fire-engine-red thick soup, to me, lacked any creaminess and could have easily done double duty as a pasta sauce.

My entrée, a bone-in grilled pork chop with red wine sauce, was a large chop, more than inch thick, cooked to medium done. I had to request a steak knife to cut it, as one was not provided.Not only was it tough, it tasted as if it had spent days, if not weeks in a salty brine. The mashed potatoes that shared the chop’s bowl – what’s wrong with a flat plate – were equally saline. I could not eat more than half and told our server about the problem. Her reply, “Shall I remove it?”

My spouse’s filet mignon, ordered slightly under medium, arrived practically bleeding. They took it back for more heat. It was just satisfactory, said the wife.

Our friends pronounced their short-rib ragu and plain grilled salmon as satisfactory.

Chocolate brownie

Creme brûlée

Banana bread pudding

Desserts did not make for a grand finale. Banana bread pudding didn’t have a hint of sweetness and the shell of the crème brûlée glaze was rock-solid thick. Chocolate brownies were, indeed, chocolaty, although the portion size on the prix fixed menu was small.

I received a call the next morning from the restaurant and was asked how we enjoyed our evening. “So, so,” I said, noting the salty pork chop as one reason. “Did I tell a manager?” the woman on the phone asked. “No,” said I. Her response, “I’m sorry. I hope you give us another try.”

I doubt it.









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