Chef Ben Runkel’s favorite part of his appearance is inspired by the many flavors and ingredients around him. And it has worked fine for him so far. For one, its focus on locally sourced meat and produce is what established Salt & Time, its butcher / grocery store / upscale restaurant in East Austin, as one of the best restaurants in town.
With his newest venture, The Butcher’s Burger opening Runkle, creative traces from culinary styles to the Mediterranean and to taco trucks are being carried over to South Austin to create a new, fast-paced burger delivery / take-out operation to accomplish.
“A hamburger may be the most American food, but what’s the most American way of cooking? It’s based on inspirational flavors from all of the different people that make up America, “says Runkle.
The restaurant, inspired by Salt & Time’s bestseller of the same name, will officially open on Thursday, November 5th.
Runkle originally designed Butcher’s Burger as a stationary operation, but had to retool for an industry that was still affected by the pandemic. He turned to the award-winning, South-inspired Olamaie for inspiration. For the past few months, the gourmet restaurant has revolved around a cookie take-away concept called Little Ola’s.
To turn Salt & Time’s famous burger into a full restaurant concept, Runkle and his team exchanged ideas, one of which they considered a fast food burger. Instead, they decided to focus on heartier 6 to 8 ounce handcrafted patties.
“We wanted to use our experience and expertise in making sausage and sausage products and apply them to these burgers,” says Runkle. “Our goal is to really make the meat even in the patties shine.”
The highlights of the menu include the Breakfast For Dinner burger, which Salt & Time fans know as the popular chorizo burger only for brunch, which is made from homemade Mexican-style chorizo, and a chicken burger made from chicken and grated zucchini to keep the patty from coming “Too tight.”
Another must-have is the Birria Burger, inspired by the traditional Mexican goat stew Jalisco, served in Austin’s famous La Tunita 512 taco truck. The Birria Burger begins with a whole lamb from Capra Foods braised, slow cooked and simmered, chopped up before being ground into a pate with raw lamb, served with grilled oaxacan cheese and topped with a bun dipped in beef broth.
“A lot of this dish is inspired by La Tunita,” says Runkle. “We literally worked out the menu while we were eating their tacos.”
According to Runkle, the team’s creativity shines brightest with the vegetarian “cheeseburger” made from halloumi cheese, a key ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. At Butcher’s Burger, the patty is grilled until it develops a crispy exterior and a pleasantly creamy interior. “There was a time when the only vegetarian thing you could get when you went to a burger joint was the meatless burger [veggies and the cheese]”, he says.” So we played with that concept. ”
Butcher’s Burger’s artisanal cocktail menu, making the most of their newly acquired TABC mixed drink license, includes no-hassle Moscow mules and palomas, as well as inventive offerings like a mezcal negroni, a Manhattan-like cocktail made with raspberry syrup, and even a butternut squash margarita with it Pumpkin Puree Runkle says gives the drink “just enough warm spice to” drop “without losing that refreshing margarita aspect.”
Although Butcher’s Burger is the ultimate destination, Runkle is currently focused on implementing the take-out and delivery concept, according to Runkle. The update of the dine-in location is expected to take place in the second quarter of 2021.
Regarding future menu changes, Runkle says the current five-burger range – served alongside a limited side menu of beef-fat french fries, butcher salad, and jicama coleslaw – will remain unchanged until Thanksgiving. After that, customers can expect new foods and beverages to be added and exchanged sporadically. (According to Runkle, customers can definitely count on a Reuben-style burger with ground beef and homemade pastrami patties.) That being said, the next big addition to Butcher’s Burger’s menu is really a matter of what Runkle sees next.
“Who knows, it could be a burger inspired by Thai flavors or Indian,” says Runkle. “It really depends on the inspirations that hit me or my very talented ones [team members]. “
The Butcher’s Burger is currently working in Salt & Time’s kitchen and is open daily from 5pm to 10pm. Orders can be placed online at. Those interested can follow the Butcher’s Burger on Instagram @TheButchersBurgerTX for the latest information on the menu and drinks.