It’s Hip To Be Square

Photo by Brent Fleury

Photo by Brent Fleury

“It’s mountain-hip,” said a talented young artist friend when I asked about The Square Root, a new restaurant in Brevard.

Located in a side alley of the quaint little downtown area, The Square Root really is a pretty cool place. Filled with a young, exuberant wait staff, I felt a little cosmopolitan myself as I looked around at original artworks (all of which are for sale) done by local talent.

Speaking of a cosmopolitan, that’s exactly how I started the evening…and it was a good one. There is a separate bar area that looked to be the local “meet and greet” spot in town. Presiding over the fun is “Vincent Van Goat,” a ram’s head that is missing one ear. Clearly, Jennifer and Scott Brandenburg, owners of the Root, have a sense of humor. The bar top is also noteworthy. Made from an enormous Ambrosia Maple that was felled right around the corner on King Street, it makes for a unique spot to rest your drink. And, if you like, you can order off the menu and just stay put on your barstool. Non-smoking during restaurant hours, the bar area becomes smoker-friendly after 10:00pm.

We started off with roasted red pepper hummus, which was served with a heaping helping of sweet potato chips, fresh carrots and cucumber slices. The hummus was a zesty departure from the usual mild chickpea flavor and the chips were done just right — perfectly crisp and paper-thin. Pecan-encrusted Brie was served with a Frangelico praline sauce (think melted pecan pie), Granny Smith apples and crackers. And grilled jumbo shrimp came in a zippy Bloody Mary BBQ sauce, which was really quite tasty.

Immediately evident was the fact that somebody in the kitchen cares about presentation. That somebody is Chef John Hensley. A 22-year kitchen veteran, John’s signature garnish is the orchid, and this beautiful burst of color appears frequently on his plates. John designed the menu to “capture the middle ground” of pricing, and he’s done a nice job of that. During lunch, you can choose from sandwiches and burgers that range from $5.95-$9.95 and, at dinner, you add to those choices with entrees ranging from $13.95-$24.95.

Listening to soft jazz in the background, we decided on dinner and wine. The wine list is full of recognizable names and reasonable price points. A Douglas Green Sauvignon Blanc 2006 at $20 was a bright, crisp example of some of the good South African wines that are available at reasonable prices. We did have a moment of fun with our terrific waitress, Miah…she was struggling mightily with the cork and I finally had to reach up, take the bottle and…unscrew the cap. A good laugh was had by all.

Roast duck with a raspberry lambic (a Belgian wheat beer) coulis came stop mashed potatoes with roast asparagus on the side. One of the specials that evening was a pesto encrusted salmon and blackened shrimp, which was served with rice pilaf. My husband, the salmon fanatic, was very pleased. Prior to dinner arriving, salads were served. Lovely mixed greens came with a warm roll and real butter (none of that “I Can’t Believe It’s Not…” stuff). Dressings are all made in house and, in addition to traditional choices, you have a mandarin orange or sundried tomato & basil vinaigrette. I’d highly recommend either one. And, although we didn’t try them, there are always two soups of the day, both made by Chef Hensley (the choices on the evening of our visit were cream of asparagus and clam chowder).

Desserts were varied, and several are made in house, such as the carrot cake, key lime pie and chocolate bread pudding. We tried an interesting “Fried Cheesecake,” which was cannoli-like with a crisp outer shell and a warm, sweet filling. The carrot cake was a big hit with a young friend who was dining with us that night. In fact, his take on the place was that it reminded him of some of his favorite California hangouts.

Though it was quiet the evening we visited, musicians come to play several times a week; flyers at the door announce upcoming acts and you can call ahead to ask as well. As the weather warms, I’ll bet the front deck will be a popular place to relax, have a cold beer and listen to the music.

With a menu that will change several times a year and a range of offerings that can satisfy the craving for a burger or for something more sophisticated, The Square Root is off to an exponentially good start.

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