Photography by Kathy Tran.
FOOD IS INHERENTLY NOSTALGIC to Carter Reyenga. The best experiences the chef has while eating occur when food is not just sustenance, but when it reminds him of a moment. This is the feeling Reyenga wants neighbors to have when they dine at Son of a Butcher.
“As you taste it, it’s sort of a step back in time,” Reyenga says. “But also doing it crafted, sort of elevated, to where we’re trying to not mess up the great ingredients that we bring in.”
Reyenga has been with the slider bar for a little more than a year, joining the chain after working for years in the industry, including with the Pappas restaurants. Though Son of a Butcher’s menu already existed when he started, it has been modified under his watch.
There are slight differences in the menus of the Plano and Lowest Greenville locations. Real distinction between the two comes from the brand’s determination to maintain a neighborhood feel. Son of a Butcher plans to continue catering to hyperlocal communities as it searches for future locations in Dallas-Fort Worth and other markets.
When the restaurant moved into our neighborhood last year, it kept the iconic three peaks of the former Melios Bros Char Bar building and gave it a fresh coat of paint. Son of a Butcher also installed a pet-friendly patio with artificial turf and set out water bowls for neighbors’ furry friends.
“The atmosphere overall is just super fun, kitschy, energetic,” Reyenga says.
In July, Son of a Butcher supplemented the menu with a margarita, served frozen or on the rocks, the comeback chicken slider and a fry sleeve. These and the rest of the offerings are prepared with high-quality ingredients, many homemade or purchased from local vendors. Wagyu beef is sourced from A Bar N Ranch in Celina. Sodas come from Oak Cliff Beverage Works. Brisket is slow-cooked for 12 hours before making its way onto the burnt ends slider.
Reyenga incorporates layers of flavor in every menu feature. By integrating salty, sweet and acidic elements, the food reaches a culinary balance. In the PB&J slider, a neighborhood favorite, the sweetness of crunchy peanut butter, the acidity of blackberry jam and the saltiness of bacon play off of each other. What results is an elevated final product with blended flavors.
The classic is the most popular slider. A wagyu beef base is topped with American cheese, comeback sauce and pickles. Reyenga is partial to the hot mess, Son of a Butcher’s take on the Nashville hot. Chicken tenders are tossed in hot sauce and served on a potato roll bun with pimento cheese and a pickle.
“Everything is thought out. Everything is built in layers,” he says.
In August, Reyenga and his team focused on enhancing their milkshakes, available boozy and non-boozy. They had just begun making whipped cream from scratch.
The restaurant will continue offering neighbors’ favorite items, but unlike the building’s three peaks, the menu will not remain unaltered. As Reyenga spearheads culinary development, his thoughts are guided by a hypothetical: What would the son of a butcher serve at his own craft slider spot?
“We keep expanding and changing and creating,” Reyenga says. “We’re not stopping.”