Franklin Square is one of the more whimsical destinations in Philadelphia. Between the carousel, the prominent fountain, and the miniature golf course featuring replicas of notable Philly monuments, an establishment like Stephen Starr’s SquareBurger fits right in.
Situated in a stand near the middle of Franklin Square, SquareBurger, thanks to its fanciful location and indulgent menu items such as Tastykake milkshakes and double shots of frozen custard, was reminiscent of something found inside an amusement park — though that sense may also have been a result of the prices.
As oldies music emanated from the stand and someone rode a bicycle around the fountain while playing a ukulele, I ordered a SquareBurger, crinkle-cut fries and a Cake Shake. After a wait that was quite lengthy considering that the establishment was nearly deserted, I received my food and sat at a nearby table.
The burger was decidedly underwhelming after a couple of bites. It was cooked somewhere between medium well and well done, too long for my liking, and it was rather small for the price. The bun seemed as though it could have been purchased at a nearby grocery store, and there were hardly any vegetables on any of the burgers on the menu, further reducing their size and eliminating flavors and textures that would have been good. The fries, meanwhile, were tasty, though not special.
After all but writing off the restaurant, I remembered that I had ordered a milkshake — and oh, what a milkshake it was. Composed of a Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpet, caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, it was absolutely delicious. The Tastykake provided a very interesting dimension to the shake and complemented the other flavors extremely well. I drank it voraciously and without shame.
That being said, the food was expensive, especially given that it was sold out of a stand and modestly portioned. I was especially disappointed with the burgers, which were downright diminutive and cost $4.50, or $6.50 for two patties.
SquareBurger is by no means anything to write home about. If you find yourself engaging in some miniature golf in Franklin Square and are in the mood for some food, you could certainly have a worse meal than what is offered at SquareBurger. However, would I recommend venturing up solely for the food? Not particularly. I would stick with Five Guys, or, if you are in the mood for something gourmet, Bobby’s Burger Palace.