New York is in the throes of Restaurant Week and establishments have been packed to the gills since Monday. I guess it's understandable. After all, New Yorkers didn't decide to go on a diet; their wallets did. So now that we have the opportunity to indulge in 3-course $24.07 lunches and $35 dinners, we answer with a resounding, "Yes we can!"
On Wednesday, we went to Butter with mixed expectations. I had never been, and okay I admit it, I booked it because I wanted to see where Blair Waldorf had gotten stood up. But when I checked reviews on the place, I was mortified at the sheer number of people saying, "Don't bother!" The wait was long, service was atrocious, food was crap, blah blah blah. My stomach churned.
But guess what? Butter was wonderful! We had an early reservation (7:30PM) which I recommend if you want to keep your wait to a minimum. Service was very pleasant, as well—though I'm guessing Restaurant Week service is better all-around because these days they're just grateful to have someone, anyone, eating out on a weekday.
Now on to the food ... our party ordered 3 different apps and decided to share. The sauteed calamari with chickpeas, brown butter and lemon sauce was excellent. Just the right amount of batter, with the coating fried to a perfect crisp and the inside still tender. The cavatappi pasta with spicy lamb sausage and yellow tomato sauce was also surprisingly good. It was deliciously cheesy and the sausage gave a nice kick. Skip the beet salad.
For entrees, most of our group ordered the braised beef short ribs and were pleased. The short ribs were very tender and had a rich, satisfying flavor nicely complemented by the greens and herbed white beans it was served with.
Mika ordered a wonderful seared salmon, which was seared to a crisp on the outside and left like sashimi in the middle. Absolutely amazing. The sauce was an interesting concoction of sweet garlic and parsley. We ended up trading plates after a few bites, and then continuing to steal off each others entrees. Both were so good we couldn't decide which was better.
But then, the downer: dessert. For such a well-executed meal, it's as if they left me to make my own dessert. I mean seriously. The hot chocolate float was unatractively served in a waterglass and was really just a shot of chocolate. My raspberry sorbet tasted like it came out of a store-bought pint and was very anticlimactic. The peanut butter dessert was the only one that seemed to entail any effort on their part. Ho-hum.
But all in all, it was a very pleasant experience. I really liked how they also had a Restaurant Week wine list, which was a nice touch. Come next Restaurant Week, you might want to hit up Butter. I definitely won't say don't bother.
Butter is located at 415 Lafayette Street between 4th Street and Astor Place. Tel. (212) 2532828.