Recently, family and friends connected in the Big Apple for a celebratory weekend. (I am fortunate to have married into a family that celebrates everything. My hard scrabble midwestern mom is not prone to celebrate but loves life in a different way. My southern dad is not a celebratory at all but finds good times in daily life. So the frequent celebrations have been a welcome addition to my life.) Since it was a last minute celebration, we were left to find a place to dine that could accommodate all of us. My fabulous, perfectionist sister-in-law found Butter in Midtown. It was a great selection; all of the diners raved about their meals; and this is a sophisticated experienced bunch of diners. In fact, part of our dinner conversation consisted of discussing where and when each of us had the best meals of our lives. Both my family and my in-law are big on food – cooking it, eating it and talking about it…. just a big focus of our lives!
The atmosphere at Butter is edgy, heavy wood, really high ceilings and unique furniture. It is rustic, woodsy, cabin with a New York City hippiness. There are a lot of booths in a half circles – always better for a group to sit together in a round table because then you can engage with everyone in your party. So, we were pleased to be assigned a large semi-circle booth far enough from the bar to not get the noise but close enough to be a part of the buzz. The noise level is low so you can talk with your dinner mates. The seats are comfy and a reasonable distance from the table. The table was large enough that we could all comfortably sit and have all our food delivered.
Warning though about the space – don’t get excited about having dinner or drinks in the fabulous garden that is displayed on the website because that is only available for private parties. Such a shame because the space looks likes its really welcoming and like a quiet refuge in the insanity of NYC.
Given that we were celebrating – we started with cocktails. Of particular note was the “calamansi” – vodka, watermelon cubes, mint, and calamansi lime juice. Our guest who ordered it most enjoyed it and the waiter willingly provided some extra vodka to the mixture when asked. The mojito drinker raved about it as well.
The wine list had diversity in price and in varietal – we quickly found something that we all enjoyed.
Appetizers were the panzanella salad, mache salad, and escarole causer salad. The leaf base of each of these salads was very fresh. The tomatoes in the panzanella were flavorful and fresh as well. Dressings were tasty. The dressing did not overpower the greens with intense flavor nor were the dressings soaking the greens – done very well.
The grilled, chili-rubbed octopus was elegantly prepared, winding over the plate, leaving the diner to cut it rather than having it cut up in the kitchen. There was just enough chili to add zing. Presenting the dish over white beans with some green tomatoes added a nice consistency to the dish.. However, it was not as warm as the diner would have preferred. Others got the oven-roasted chicken and the tobacco smoked pork chop. The chicken was perfectly prepared, juicy, not over done as was the pork chop. The salmon and trout were similarly perfectly prepared.
Dessert was disappoint simply because we were not satisfied with the number and variety of the selections. We did not want to get a full on dessert but just wanted a scoop of homemade ice cream. They only had two flavors available and, although very creamy, neither flavor was intense enough to taste like anything more than frozen vanilla flavored custard. The creme brûlée that was on the menu the night we went was a grand slam – sweet enough and creamy enough to be delightful but not overwhelming.
One down-side was the service. We ordered our cocktails and we did not see the waiter with our drinks for a ridiculously long period of time. It was fine since we were settled in for a long evening together but, we wanted our hooch to start the party. It was an awkwardly long time to be sitting there while the water guy just kept pouring more water. We even got our rolls and butter before our cocktails arrived. These delays played out over the course of the whole meal, we would just find ourselves waiting and waiting for the waiter to take our order, bring our food and clear our table. He did not demonstrate any particular interest in or knowledge of the menu. Disappointing given the quality of the food.
In the end, definitely try it… its always good to be sitting in butter.