Restaurant Review: Burtons Grill: Local ingredients make for strong links in this chain

Deidre Schipani – Wednesday, February 6, 2013

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Grace Beahm/staff
Burtons Grill in Mount Pleasant Towne Center.
  • John Pauciello, owner/partner of Burtons Grill in Mount Pleasant Towne Center.
    ( Grace Beahm/staff )
    John Pauciello, owner/partner of Burtons Grill in Mount Pleasant Towne Center.

  • Burtons Grill in Mount Pleasant Towne Center.
    ( Grace Beahm/staff )
    Burtons Grill in Mount Pleasant Towne Center.

Burtons Grill

Cuisine: Contemporary American

Category: Neighborhood Favorite; Night Out

Location: 1875 U.S. Highway 17, Mount Pleasant Towne Centre

Phone: 606-2590

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday

Food: 3

Atmosphere: 3

Price: $$-$$$$

Vegetarian Options: Yes, dedicated vegetarian menu and gluten-free menu

Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Bar: Full-service bar; drink and beer specials, happy hour on Monday

Parking: Towne Centre lot

Other: $5 burgers at the bar until 4 p.m.; children’s menu. Daily lunch specials; herb garden; private dining room for 40 guests seated, 50 guests cocktails; PowerPoint capable, HDTV, Wi-Fi; “Loyal” club with points and perks; newsletter; events, outdoor seating; carry-out, URESERV, gift cards; Facebook, Twitter. Manager John Pauciello, jpauciello@burtonsgrill.com, mountpleasant@burtonsgrill.com, burtonsgrill.com.

Burtons Grill is an upscale, casual restaurant that is part of a chain of 10 properties. What distinguishes Burtons from other chains is its commitment to the landscape of the local community.

It was founded by three experienced restaurateurs, Kevin Harron, Kevin Rowell and Pat Gordon. For them it was sharing a vision: The restaurant had to meet their own desires and expectations. They wanted Burtons to be a haven for active, discerning adults with sophisticated palates interested in high-quality food and wine.

As president and cofounder, Harron, 2007 Massachusetts Restaurant Association’s Man of the Year, says, “Our strategy is simple. We commit to serving only the freshest, highest-quality ingredients, to employ passionate, driven people and train them to deliver consistent, considerate service. We keep our prices affordable, our atmosphere comfortable, and we work diligently to make sure we’re upholding our values.”

For their Mount Pleasant location, they have tapped into local farms: Ambrose, Boone Hall, Rosebank and Thackeray. It means local fish and meat when possible. An herb garden is right outside the restaurant. And although a corporate culinary director calls the shots for the enterprise, chef Chase Barton can tailor his menu to local tastes. Barton is a Culinary Institute of America grad who comes to Mount Pleasant from Burtons Grill’s Virginia Beach location. With advance notice, he is more than happy to work with guests to create a tailored menu for their special occasions and events.

For those who are gluten-intolerant, Burtons has designed a menu in partnership with the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program and Certified Gluten Free. Vegetarians will find pastas ($14.95) and risottos ($15.95) along with salads and seafood ($18.95-$24.95) that will not make them feel like outsiders at the table.

And for children, Burtons offers {B} Choosy, a menu in collaboration with ChooseMyPlate.gov ($6) where the young appetites at your table can choose among proteins, vegetables, grains, fruit and dairy. Portions are kid-friendly and can be prepared sauteed, baked and yes, fried.

The space

This is an attractive restaurant where dark woods and burgundy-upholstered booths create an oasis of calm and class in the landscape of lifestyle mall eateries. Exposed bricks, photos of Lowcountry images and candelabra-styled lighting ground the interior with a look that’s says Charleston.

Servers at the time of our visit were attentive, well-informed about the menu, and from their enthusiasm, it was clear that sampling was very much a part of their training. There is quite a bit of management by “walking around” and a sense of camaraderie among servers, bussers and the host station.

The food

The appetizers are substantial and lend themselves to sharing. Goat cheese-stuffed zucchini ($7.95), risotto fritters of sausage and provolone ($9.95) and sauteed local shrimp ($10.95) are a few of the options.

We shared a lightly crusted order of spicy calamari ($11.95) that offered tender tentacles, the sweet heat of pickled jalapenos and a less than robust roasted pepper aioli. If there is a weakness in the appetizer menu, it is that it is too rich and more “small plate” than first course.

Salads ($6.95-$7.95) are well-composed, generous in size and can be topped with a protein ($5-$8).

The menu speaks to appetites large and small, so the dinner menu provides a full complement of sandwiches ($10.95-$13.95) as well as simply grilled seafood ($19.95-$23.95) with your choice of a seasonal vegetable and potato or herbed rice.

Freshness was served in the catch of the day with an order of mahi-mahi ($24.95) plated over risotto swirled with sweet kernels of corn, shrimp and sugar-snap peas. This still-life of edible pastels was finished with a lemon beurre blanc and snippets of chives. It was quite good.

Cooler weather gave an added appeal to braised short ribs ($23.95) served over a crisped onion-potato croquette with batons of carrots and a creamy horseradish sauce bearing witness to the comfort food nature of this dish. Its only shortcoming was the ribs being so lean that the usual fat melt was not present — a tender dish but a bit dry.

A neighboring table’s order of a burger ($10.95) received their accolades.

Rio Bertolini’s locally made mushroom ravioli are paired with medallions of chicken ($18.95) and butternut squash for a seasonal take on pasta and vegetables.

Steak lovers will appreciate aged beef ($28.95, $29.95), and seafood fans will find the market catch fish ($19.95-MP) can be grilled, “bronzed” (think Cajun seasonings) or fried.

Desserts are a short list of favored flavors: Key lime pie ($6.95), sorbet ($5.95), hot fudge sundae ($5.95) and a warm chocolate torte ($5.95) that married delicious to decadence.

Burtons’ attention to detail comes at a price, but it is a fare worthy of your time and money. Quality ingredients, a trained staff and attention to detail are not served without a cost.