Thursday, January 31, 2013

Churning with Delight

415 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10003

*We apologize ahead of time for the dark pictures, we didn't want to be rude and use flash.*

It had been four hours and six courses ago since we ate at Po, so we decided to go see Lincoln to pass the time. Once we left the theater, we were ready for the real show, Butter.  As avid Food Network enthusiasts, we are huge fans of Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, the newly crowned Iron Chef. We have wanted to go to her restaurant Butter for a while, and what better vehicle to try it out than NYC Restaurant Week? Butter is located on a very large but quiet side street in NoHo. As we walked down the hallway, we were immediately surprised by how high the ceilings were and how open the restaurant felt when you entered the main dining room. We were seated downstairs in the darker, more tranquil room. The room had the feel of a chic aspen lodge. A glass paneled wine cellar was a sophisticated back drop to the relatively modern restaurant. 

Out of the four appetizer choices we ordered the House Made Charcuterie Platter and the Cavatappi Pasta. The charcuterie platter had house-cured bacon, duck breast mortadella, chicken liver on toast and spicy napa cabbage. It was a perfect dish. The bacon was thick cut with a crispy exterior, but immensely moist inside. The duck breast mortadella was lean and an engaging twist on a classic. The chicken liver spread over toast was the highlight of the dish; the creamy spread was both fatty and beautifully balanced atop the crispy bread. The cavatappi pasta with spicy lamb sausage and a yellow tomato sauce was delicious. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, and the sauce was slightly sweet to counter the spicy lamb sausage. 

For our main courses we picked Roasted All-Natural Chicken Breast over white beans with sweet garlic and dandelion and Braised Pork Shoulder with pretzel crumb crust and buttered rutabaga. The chicken seems like a meek choice, but we had read reviews that highly recommended it, so we decided to try it. The chicken was extremely moist and flavorful. The white beans were garlicky and the dandelion added an intense heartiness overlying a bitter tang. Overall, a very well-balanced plate. 

The pork shoulder simply fell apart when it made contact with our fork. The pretzel crumb crust added a necessary crunch to the moist meat. The buttered rutabaga was simple and sweet, and balanced the meat out nicely. 

There were three options for dessert: Dark Chocolate Walnut Cake with caramel and sea salt; Ginger Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich with vanilla ice cream and spiced pecans; and Lemon Sorbet with kumquat marmalade and toasted sesame seeds. Although all of these sounded amazing, we asked our waiter if we could pay extra and order the famous Raspberry Beignets with vanilla dipping sauce. He said this would be fine and offered to give us two pieces of chocolate cake to take home, since they were included in our meals. We had seen these beignets on "Best Thing I've Ever Made" and the way Chef Guarnaschelli described them, we had always been curious. They were most definitely one of the best things we have ever eaten. They were warm, fluffy, and coated lightly with sugar. The raspberry was the perfect amount to have the sweet tangy punch in each bite. The vanilla dipping sauce was a great contrast and added a nice creaminess. For a dessert that should have been heavy, it was remarkably light! We were extremely pleased with this substitution. 
Butter was everything we hoped for and more. Although the winter restaurant week menu is  more concise than the regular menu, it is clear that Chef Guarnaschelli put a lot of thought into all of the dishes and they were executed to a high caliber. We are extremely happy we made this restaurant choice, and will be coming back soon to experience the whole menu. 

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