The all-day provisions at coffee bars have sure come a long way from pre-made sandwiches and outsourced pastries. In the last few months alone, we’ve seen the debut of casual, focaccia-baking and ginger lemongrass donut-serving adjuncts at Lilia and Sauvage, respectively, and been treated to a Danish wonderland of tongue-twisting goodies courtesy of Meyers Bageri. And now, the just-opened Butler in Williamsburg has even brought a Michelin-starred pastry chef into the mix, with the aim of taking the techniques of the fine dining world, and applying them to the production of sweet and savory cafe fare.
While significantly more casual than Manhattan’s acclaimed Piora (where co-owner Ryan Butler currently performs double duty, overseeing the dessert program), the bridge-adjacent eatery is still considerably sleeker than your run-of-the-mill java house. Marrying the industrial history of the space—previously an ice cream factory, and before that, a Turkish cigarette-making facility—with a touch of modern bistro design, the 24-seater features exposed concrete contrasted against brass topped tables, as well as Carrara marble counters, rattan chairs, herringbone tile, and jaunty pineapple wallpaper in the bathrooms.
And then there’s Butler’s breakfast-through-early dinner menus, which meet the bar raised by Intelligentsia cortados, iced espressos mingled with tonic and lavender, and housemade lemonade infused with concord grapes. Breakfast empanadas arrive dusted with the Egyptian spice and nut blend, dukkah, and swollen with farm eggs, smoked bacon and arugula, while oregano-scented muffins are crested with black mission figs and local roasted ham off the bone. On the weekdays you’ll find falafel eggs, encased in a shroud of chickpeas, green peas and mint, while Scotch eggs make an appearance on the weekends, cloaked with breakfast sausage, cheddar cheese, and panko.
Other composed items include ancient grain salads—Israeli couscous, quinoa, baby kale, Australian feta and roasted butternut squash, tossed in preserved lemon vinaigrette—as well as Thai-flavored, East-meets-West pasties, stuffed with chicken, crimini mushrooms, 24k potatoes and purple dragon carrots. As for sweets, you’ll find palm-sized blueberry crumbcakes, enhanced with yuzu and chamomile, and even a house-made energy bar, crafted from Irish oatmeal, flax seeds and muscavado sugar.
We’ve long been reminded that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And now that chefs are finally devoting equal attention to their early morning offerings, it’s increasingly one of the tastiest.
95 South 5th St., Williamsburg
Photos by Jessica Nash