The Luxury of Excellent Butter


These restaurants are buttering up diners with their tantalising opening acts


by

The Luxury of Excellent Butter
Dining March 27th, 2018

The plate comes bearing a snowy, white quenelle as light as air. A sharp-suited staff proffers a choice of truffle brioche and rye still warm from the oven, to go with your butter.

It’s all about the experience at modern French restaurant Odette, and every little detail counts. There is no place here for your run-of-the-mill salted butter block with a toasted bun. Instead, creamy lardo (cured strips of fatback) is blended and passed through a fine sieve. The buttery salumi is then left to set, before it is scooped up and served as a perfect quenelle.

Julien Royer_Butter

Julien Royer serves his own take on lardo butter at Odette. Photo by Winston Chuang

“The bread and butter course is an old tradition, and also the very first touchpoint for guests in the restaurant,” says Julien Royer, chef-owner of two Michelin-star Odette.

“More people are realising how important it is to make that first impression an impactful one to set the tone for the restaurant.”

Royer is far from alone in this. Butter is taking on more luxurious forms in some of the finest restaurants around the world. At Asian-inspired restaurant Pidgin in London, dinner begins on a high note with a warm crust of sourdough and brown butter. The bread is the perfect vessel for the salty butter with caramel notes that come from brown sugar.

 “More people are realising how important it is to make that first impression an impactful one to set the tone for the restaurant.”

– Julien Royer, chef-owner of Odette

 

 

It seems a minor part of the meal, but the experience is elevated from the get-go when dinner begins with an excellent butter and good bread. “There is something luxurious about going for dinner and being served good bread and butter,” says Isabella Lee, a lawyer and a regular at Odette. “It also helps me remember the restaurant, when it pays attention to these small details.”

At terra, Tokyo-born chef Seita Nakahara jazzes up unsalted butter with a truffle mushroom paste that he makes himself — first sautéing Italian porcinis with fresh thyme, then pureeing it and adding truffles.

“Restaurants have the ability to bring in different ingredients from around the world. This lets chefs come up with butters that diners can only have at their restaurant,” says Nakahara. The umami-packed butter has been such a hit, Nakahara now jars it for diners who want to bring it home.

At modern French restaurant Lerouy, chef-owner Christophe Lerouy uses French butter as a base to experiment with different flavours. “We change the flavour of our butter every month,” says Lerouy. “People want something different in restaurants these days, and they like to see things made by hand,” he continues. Instead of just a single slab of butter, Lerouy serves three different-flavoured quenelles — beetroot, smoked charcoal, and plain.

Even Ryan Clift, chef-owner of Tippling Club, has finally put a bread and butter course on his menu.

TIPPLINGCLUB Rosemary bread and wagyu fat butter (2)_edit

It took Ryan Clift 10 years before he finally put bread and butter on the menu of Tippling Club. 

“Most people don’t know this, but I’m actually lactose and gluten-intolerant. So, for me to serve bread and butter is something that has taken me 10 years to include in my restaurant,” he says.

It’s a good thing then that the butter at Tippling Club is well-worth the decade-long wait. Pure wagyu fat is smoked at 5°C and infused with garlic, thyme, rosemary and a dash of salt. This is then whipped and churned with butter, for a rich, smoke-kissed spread.

“Restaurants have the ability to bring in different ingredients from around the world. This lets chefs come up with butters that diners can only have at their restaurant.”

– Seita Nakahara, chef-owner of terra

Says Clift: “When we decided to serve bread and butter last year, like everything else at Tippling Club, we wanted to do things differently. That’s why we chose to use smoked wagyu fat which is made in-house.”

He adds: “For me, if you’re going to serve bread and butter, you should just serve good bread and butter.”

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