I am such a huge fan of Chef Alex Guarnaschelli of Iron Chef and Food Network fame. I adore her charming personality and the way she describes the food she loves on such a detailed level that you are imagining you too are eating the same thing. I have never had a bad recommendation from her; rather in fact I have gone to Ferrara Bakery in Little Italy because she told me I needed to eat their lobster tail pastry. Boy was she right!
Chef Guarnschelli is the executive chef at Butter Midtown which recently opened in November 2013 having moved from its previous location on Lafayette Street. This new location is on 45th Street in the heart of the theater district and near mostly any activity you can think of.
I visited the original location back in 2010 (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2012/07/for-butter-that-cant-be-beat.html) as it was part of my to-do list that year. I love to seek out restaurants and special events when I am looking at the year ahead to give myself something to aspire to. Butter was something I had heard about forever. Once I ate there I knew it would be a lifelong love, much like its namesake.
On my recent visit to the brand new Butter, I was pleasantly surprised by many things. First of all this location is downstairs, a variation from its past, but it kept its dark Mahoney wood walls and furniture and bright spots of light and greenery. Not only had the atmosphere changed so had the menu. The chef is constantly shopping at farmers markets looking for what is in season and what she feels like cooking. The menu can vary a great deal from one month to another but that is part of the fun.
When I arrived I had the hardest time deciding what to get. I finally went with the Creekstone Farms “Butter Cut” ribeye and my companion ordered the roasted dry diver scallops. For a side I ordered the Jerusalem artichoke gratin, because I had heard it was incredible, and my mate ordered the skillet potato cake.
I have to say that the smell of a good meal hits you before your dish does. That was certainly the case here. More than that, it tasted better than it even sounded. Those descriptions did not do the food or the chef any justice. You cannot read Butter cut ribeye and then imagine the perfectly cooked inside, char-crusted outside and tender piece of meat I had. It was last supper quality. At first I thought I would never be able to finish it but I plowed through especially with those artichokes melted in gruyere cheese. That was a little piece of heaven in a bowl.
As for the other meal I tasted that as well. I am not usually a fan of scallops but these were amazing. Not too chewy and seasoned as only Butter’s chef could. The potato pie was like a big grown up version of a hash brown. Again there were no complaints here.
Since we had skipped appetizers, opting for only the bread and butter, we moved onto dessert. One note about the bread and butter- it is the reason you come here. My favorite pairing was the pretzel roll with sour cream and onion butter. They should really have a gift shop.
For dessert it was crème brulee all the way and raspberry filled jelly beignets with vanilla frosting on the side for dipping. The crème brulee was heavy and creamy. It took a moment to even crack through the glass like topping. It was the hardest time I have ever had with such a thing. The doughnuts were huge and filled to the brim with jelly. I eventually had it all over me. I did not use the frosting the sugar on the outside combined with the freshness of the berries inside went so well together.
I have saved the best part for last. Being that I am a huge fan of this chef I decided to ask to see her. I had seen her when we first walked in but then she disappeared. After we received our check I asked the waiter if I could meet her. He seemed confused like no one had ever asked him that before but he went to find out. Within seconds she popped up at my table! I was out of breath before I started. I complimented her, her talents, and told her what a good time we were having. I mentioned that I had been to her other restaurants and she was so pleasant and down to earth. It was like we were old friends and she was cooking for me on a Friday night while we were hanging out. That is how the story ends in my book.
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