On Thursday night Dillon and I dined at Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s Butter Midtown and it was truly a foodie dream come true. We’ve spent our fair share of hours watching Iron Chef on Food Network, so getting to eat at Chef Guarnaschelli’s restaurant was an unreal, magical, delicious, unforgettable experience.
Butter is perfect for lovers of small plates. Dillon and I share everything when we go out to eat, so instead of getting individual entrées we indulged in a variety of small plates and hot appetizers to share, and they were all unbelievably amazing. Still waiting on Apple to invent technology that allows you to encapsulate taste memories and replay them over and over and over again, but I guess until that happens we’ll just have to go back to Butter in person. Not complaining though lol.
The ambience was trendy and modern, with low golden lighting and that cool city vibe that you can only find in a Manhattan restaurant. I can understand why Blair Waldorf would want to eat here (hahaha throwback to my Gossip Girl addicted days).
Butter kicked it off with two beautiful, freshly baked rolls sprinkled with coarse salt, and two perfect pearls of butter (one herbed, one plain). I mean honestly this meal would have been worth it if we paid $100+ just to sit there for two hours and eat bottomless bread rolls from Guarnaschelli’s kitchen. I knew from this moment that everything else that Butter had in store for us would be amazing. I mean because the quality of the table bread experience really does set the tone for the rest of the meal amirite.
Thick-Cut Veal Bacon
This small plate reminded me a bit of pork belly, but even more delicious. This thick, juicy slab of veal bacon was perfectly crispy on the outside, and meaty on the inside. I generally detest fatty meats, but the fattiness in this veal bacon melted in your mouth like *ahem* butter. The best part of the dish had to be the red wine mustard topping it off, which I actually could eat a jarful of on its own.
I’ve eaten so many burrata appetizers in my life that I thought that every possible variation of this creamy cheese dish had been exhausted. UNTIL NOW. Chef Alex’s truffled burrata was simple, but genius. Worth $23? Absolutely. Very truffle 12/10 would devour in seconds again. If I didn’t love Dillon so much I would have fought him to the death with a fork for the last sliver of burrata.
Filet of Beef Carpaccio
Spicy and salty, this beef carpaccio was ingenious and unexpected. I love beef carpaccio and I don’t like olives but Dillon informed me after I inhaled half of this plate that the beef had olives on it. Witchcraft, clearly. Or maybe I actually do like olives! You know a chef has made some magic happen when they make you love something you thought you hated. This dish was super salty — just the way we like it. I have a deep appreciation for chefs who are not afraid of salt — a.k.a flavor — and the saltiness of this dish was in perfect balance with the spiciness from the Serrano chilies.
Grilled, chili-rubbed octopus
A lot of the dishes that we ate at Butter were dishes I’ve had (inferior) variations of elsewhere, only Chef Guarnaschelli took them to an entirely new level that my palette had never experienced. And I will never be the same after Alex Guarnaschelli’s octopus, which was perfectly grilled with the perfect char, the perfect bite of acid, and a perfect green tomato romesco that I could not get enough of. Perfection. Could have eaten all eight legs of an octopus in one sitting if they were prepared in Butter’s kitchen. This instantly became my favorite preparation of octopus that I have ever consumed.
Our least favorite dish was still one of the nicest pasta dishes I’ve had in a restaurant. The pasta was cooked to al dente perfection. Though no fault of Chef Alex’s, as a general rule I really don’t like sausage, and that held true for this dish’s lamb sausage, which tasted kind of like a halal stand smells but fancier. The olive magic did not repeat itself here, unfortunately, and I was not converted to a sausage lover. However I can appreciate what Chef Guarnaschelli did here; still an exceptional dish, and one I’d order again.
Gnocchi Mac & Cheese
Little pillows of potato love blanketed in creamy cheesy happiness. This is the reason I’m a foodie. This is what I live for. Life-changing dishes like these that are the edible incarnation of love and happiness in one little bowl. Comfort food at its finest but not overwhelmingly heavy, Alex Guarnaschelli’s gnocchi mac and cheese was not only my favorite dish of the night, but officially one of my favorite dishes ever. Another instance of loving something I don’t normally care for. I’ve never been a huge gnocchi gal, and I’d say I’m a gnocchi gal now, but I don’t know if anyone else could live up to Chef Alex’s rendition!
Forgot to take a picture of these before we devoured them sorry but 10/10. Fanciest doughnut I’ve ever had. The raspberry filling was divine.
Finally, some comments on the service:
The service was impeccable and prompt. Never has my water glass been filled so expeditiously.
I’m 22-years-old and look about 17, and Dillon is 23. Though we are serious and well-versed foodies, we often run into a disturbing problem at upper-echelon restaurants: not being taken seriously or treated with respect. We’ve often noted that we are not prioritized as customers because of our age, even when we’re spending the same money for the same atmosphere and service, likely because servers aren’t expecting a generous tip from us, and, quite plainly, it’s really fucking annoying when you just want to have an impeccable and memorable dining experience. (That makes me sound like a snob so I want to clarify that I don’t go everywhere expecting impeccable service lol like if you’re a mediocre server and you work at Red Lobster I’m not mad about it, but when you’re paying a fuckton on fine dining I don’t feel bad for having higher expectations).
Well, at Butter, we didn’t feel like that at all. We were treated with respect and prompt service just like any other customer, and we felt welcome and well-tended to. Service is such an important aspect of dining because the front-of-house service really can make or break a dining experience. Bad service can change your entire outlook on a meal. I’ve watched enough episodes of Restaurant Wars on Top Chef, and experienced enough instances of absolutely atrocious service to know this. Likewise, exceptional service can change your entire outlook on a meal, too — by making it even better and more enjoyable. When you’re in an acclaimed establishment, you expect quality service, and at Butter, we got this and more, which really just capped off the perfection and wonderment of the evening and took it from perfect to other-worldly.
Thank you, Chef Guarnaschelli, for an unforgettable night! Even if you were off doing Food Network stuff lolz we love you.