Restaurant veteran Johnny Carros (most recently general manager of Kent Rathbun’s Jasper’s restaurant) and chef Jon Thompson (most recently executive chef for Samar and Stampede 66 by Stephan Pyles) have partnered to create Sugarbacon Proper Kitchen. Located at 216 W. Virginia Street in McKinney’s historic downtown, this casual yet sophisticated restaurant serves lunch and dinner with weekend brunch service following later this summer.
Carros and Thompson explain the concept as upscale casual with fresh, flavorful, uncomplicated food. “The philosophy behind our menu is that simple ingredients, when sourced well, can be elevated by an experienced chef to an unbelievable level of flavor. We are staying away from complex sauces and layers and instead allowing the food itself to shine. The smoked Berkshire pork chop with green chile hominy casserole is a soon-to-be-favorite that signifies this New American menu with Texas undertones,” says Thompson who has worked as a chef in the kitchens of Stephan Pyles and Bradley Ogden.
Thompson took nearly a year off from the professional kitchen to work as a chef instructor for DISD. This was an interesting time for the chef, but he actually wanted to open a restaurant he could call his own. Deservedly so.
We checked into Sugarbacon after a seemingly short trip to McKinney. We do enjoy the many shops and restaurants on the McKinney Square that wrap around the old school courthouse. It is a small trek back in time, and something about the beautiful Victorian-style homes that wells up a slice of small town Americana. Sugarbacon plays to that theme very well. Keeping things simple, hearty and good.
It is an interesting menu that started with the house namesake, the Sugarbacon, which is actually chunks of pork belly (well, that is bacon) that are given a sugary punch with an addition to a spicy sauce. The Sugarbacon actually reminds us of burnt ends Kansas City-style. The menu item is very good, and the most ordered item in the restaurant.
There are other interesting starts such as the Spinach Artichoke Dip, made with fresh artichokes and both fontina and marscarpone cheeses. This throw back dish is a fun and shareable item that will leave you competing for the last scoop of your toast points. The yellowfin tuna tartare is also a fun dish to enjoy with your company, and is actually far more than the name suggests. Think of this dish as a deconstructed tuna tower with a patch of peekytoe crab, guac and the tartare laid out separately on the plate.
The burger is a delicious item of choice, made with Local Yocal beef, the wondrous bit of cow that is butchered less than a block’s distance of the restaurant. You will get a sampling of the Sugarbacon on the burger along with bread and butter pickles and an aged cheddar. The burger comes with a grouping of housemade fries, and they are simply wonderful.
The shrimp and grits were smooth and creamy, laden with grilled shrimp, more Sugarbacon, caramelized onions and Fresno jam. Note that the grits are sourced from Homestead which actually grinds the corn with a 125 year old water driven gristmill. You can sincerely taste the difference.
We also enjoyed the beef special of the day which was a beautiful Delmonico steak crowned with a sprinkling of bleu cheese and served on a bed of bacon fat confit potatoes. Thompson told us that he had plenty of bacon fat to spare, and the confit potatoes made total sense. These potatoes are worth the drive to McKinney alone. The beef, of course, was again sourced from Local Yocal.
For dessert we enjoyed a chocolate hazelnut icebox pie which was served with fresh whipping cream and a smattering of strawberries. We were also served a butterscotch and bananas Foster pudding with whipped marscapone and shortbread. The latter is best taken with a short glass of scotch served neat. Enjoy alternating bites of the pudding that pairs insanely well with the scotch.
The bar is well stocked with your favorites, and the cocktail menu was developed by Sean Conner who owns Pie 3.14. The man knows his way around a bar.