Butter — 2.5 Stars

A few years ago, Gossip Girl made the restaurant/nightclub Butter famous. It was, if the show was to be believed, the hangout of choice for super-wealthy New York teenagers. Whatever the truth to that assertion, Butter today is a solid restaurant with good vegetarian options. However, it’s not the kind of place that (at least on culinary quality alone) can command the kinds of prices charged.

Dinner started with some bread and what I thought was herbed butter. I suppose that’s what it was, but it disappointed. I expect herbed butters to have a really interesting flavor profile (herbs + butter! What more could you want?) but this was just sort of bland. I know one shouldn’t judge generally a place on the quality of their butter, but come on — that’s the name of the restaurant!

I started with the Vermont burrata, but without the mortadella.  (Here’s the menu.) I split it with my wife, and I’m really glad that I did. There’s no way that I could (or, more accurately, *should*) have eaten the whole thing. The cheese was very good and fresh, though a little under-salted. The olive toast was okay, but it tasted much too “olivey”. My wife speculated that this was because there was no mortadella. I suppose that could have balanced the flavors a little better.

My main course was the wild mushroom ragout. The mushrooms were topped with a piece of brioche and a poached egg (a close up is at the top of this post). This was really similar to a dish I had at Chef Dave Santos’s dinner at City Grit. The bread played a greater role here as you can see below:

The egg was really good — delicately cooked, but not too runny — and the brioche went well with the mushrooms. I didn’t taste any truffle butter, but otherwise the dish was pretty satisfying.  It’s hard to say how this compares to Chef Santos’s dish; his was more hearty, and this one came across less like hearty comfort food, and more like just a good preparation of seasonal mushrooms.  As I noted, the bread also shared the stage in this dish.  Whereas Chef Santos used a couple of pieces of toast as a garnish, Butter really made this a bread-based dish accompanied by mushrooms and egg.

Dessert was raspberry beignets with vanilla sauce. Let’s be serious: you can’t really go wrong with beignets of any sort. These were coated in sugar, which made them a little messy to eat — especially when the raspberry sauce squirted out — but otherwise quite good. I wasn’t too impressed with the vanilla sauce but the beignets were just fine without the sauce.

So should you go to Butter? Sure, and you will probably find a couple of good vegetarian options on the menu. But there isn’t a lot of vegetarian food on the menu, so if you find yourself making adjustments (e.g., no mortadella), you might not get quite the experience the chef intended. The mushroom dish was somewhat inventive — not just an afterthought — which I appreciated. The prices, though, were steep for the quality of food. I don’t know if this is still a “see and be seen” type of place, but judged on food alone, the prices are on the high side.  Entrees can take you up above $40, and starters scratch at $20.  Throw in dessert and maybe a glass of wine, and you’re already around $75 per person, before drinks.  Three stars for food, minus a half for the prices. Two and a half stars.

Ça Va’s Fall Menu is below. (Return to the body of the post.)

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