There’s a new burger in town. Howard’s Grocery & Cafe (1708 Oak Street) opens today with three items on the menu: Howard’s burger, a grilled cheese with house-made American, and a pork shoulder sandwich. The pork is slow roasted and then served “carnitas-style,” with tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, ricotta cheese and basil.
The shop-and-eat concept from chef Craig Howard has been in the works since last October. While Howard continues to talk with the city about how the retail component of the space will work, he intends to open for lunch on Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (That will likely be the drill for the next several weeks). Next week, Howard hopes to add salads and a veggie burger to the menu.
We chatted with Howard back in June about his plans for the grocery and cafe. The former chef at the Bluebird Bistro ran Howard’s Organic Fare and Vegetable Patch — a small grocery that used the honor system to allow members 24/7 access to fresh and local produce, meat and cheese — for just over two years in the now shuttered City Ice Arts building. Howard’s concept expanded, in part thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, as his catering business grew alongside the market. The new grocery and cafe melds the initial concept with Howard’s recipes that utilize his relationships with local farmers and the rooftop garden in the works above the Oak Street eatery.
As we wrote in June: Howard has centered his menu around a house burger made with two three-ounce patties. Each patty is a mix of 80/20 ground, grass-fed beef that will be pressed on the flattop like a diner. It will come topped with pickled seasonal vegetables, homemade American cheese (yellow cheddar, non-fat milk powder and gelatin) and a house burger sauce (sunflower oil and a bit of mustard) on a house-based potato roll.
“The burger is the anchor of the menu and everything needs to take less time than that,” Howard said in an interview earlier this summer. “People need to be able to come in and get good food fast and not worry about being late back to work.”