I hear fighting words around Shepherd Drive and 19th Street these days. La Lucha (the fight, or the struggle), has a new challenger across the street: Squable.
Credit Bobby Heugel (Anvil, The Pastry War) and Justin Yu (Theodore Rex, Oxheart), who’ve joined forces on their second Heights establishment. Their first, Better Luck Tomorrow on Yale, has been winning awards since opening two years ago.
They’ve transformed the former Southern Goods space from rustic woods to mid-century chic. A slatted ceiling beams down on soothing blues and browns. It’s not a large space, and gets crowded fast, but the noise level is kept down enough for conversation.
Squable’s menu focuses on smaller, shareable plates. On our visit, my friend and I shared three.
We raved over the Dutch Baby Pancake, topped with a fresh ricotta-like cheese and honey. After “swooshing” the mixture all over the crisp, cast-iron baked pancake, carb and protein gave way to a silky honey eruption.
We gave high praise to the Wattlista Pork Pan Sausage with polenta and wilted greens. This excellent sausage reminded me of a more intricately seasoned Jimmy Dean’s — that’s a good thing. It lay over a bed of crisped polenta and was framed by the greens for a layered presentation.
We would have trashed the third dish if only a bin were nearby. Chilled Royal Red Shrimp (from the Alabama Gulf) were tiny, mealy, head-on specimens yielding little flesh. A white cocktail sauce with dill underwhelmed. We found no joy in this microscopic $18 dish.
Joy soon returned in the form of Squable’s French Cheeseburger with melty raclette, pickles, and respectable fries. With its pasture-raised patty (you can tell) made with stout beer and its toasted bun so soft, it’s no wonder Alison Cook gave this burger an A+ in a recent Burger Friday column.
A Market Steak with a brown sauce and braised root vegetables looked good, and it was, although maybe a little wintry for May. The steak seemed quite lean — or was it cooked directly from the refrigerator? No matter. The flavor was totally comforting and on point.
You must save room for the Pain de Mie Dessert Bread with maple syrup, buttermilk, and sherry. I have never seen a slice of toast become such an indulgence. Donuts with Holes were OK, sweet for sure, but nothing Shipley’s can’t do better at half the price.
Cocktails are on the sugary side too, but the Chartreuse Daisy and especially the Blue Hawaiian were immensely enjoyable.
At this writing, reservations for prime times are hard to get. (Squable does save bar seats for walk-ins.) Once the spark becomes an ember and Squable settles into the neighborhood, I think it will be there a good long while.