Where: 95 South Fifth St., Brooklyn, NY 11249
Crowd: Coffee-and-design loving Brooklynites
Vibe: Casual-chic bakery with next-level pastries
Standout dish: Morning glory muffin
I hop off the M train and end up taking the long way to Butler, which is not so pleasant considering it’s one of the coldest days of the year. I pass by Pies N Thighs, where I would ordinarily pick up a piece of banana cream pie, but there are Michelin-starred pastries in my very near future and stomach space is sacred. The cafe’s namesake and head chef, Ryan Butler, led the pastry program at Piora, after all.
My friend and I enter Butler just as the menu is changing — literally. Owners Hugo Murray and Rod Coligado are switching things out on the retro black letterboard, one standing on a ladder, the other passing over the white characters. As soon as they see us, the two swing back behind the sprawling marble counter and throw out some recommendations. Hugo suggests starting with a few savory items, followed by sweets. We have a game plan.
But first, coffee. Our lattes arrive steamy and strong. Like all the cafes in Williamsburg, Butler gets its beans from a craft coffee roaster, in this case Chicago’s Intelligentsia.
Right behind our java comes a savory scone. It’s warmed up lightly and, dare I say it, may be the best scone I’ve ever had. Studded with thyme and chives, plus serrano peppers for a subtle kick, it’s got the perfect balance of crusty shell to crumbly, tender interior. A simple swipe of the accompanying whipped butter makes it even better.
Ryan Butler himself personally delivers our next dish, a sausage roll wrapped in flaky pastry. The elegant presentation — it comes on the shop’s signature sky blue plate with a pile of bright pink pickled cabbage — is an obvious clue that this isn’t your average bakery. The pedigree is high, but the prices are surprisingly affordable, with coffees and many of the lighter baked goods topping out at five bucks.
As we wait for our last savory item (a completely on-trend and delicious burrata, beet and walnut pesto tartine), I begin to admire Butler’s design elements. There’s a French bistro feel to it, but with a Brooklyn industrial-chic twist. Caramel-colored leather banquettes wrap around two sides — one flanked by larger brass tables that’s perfect for the brunch crowd. The corner space and soaring ceilings let in plenty of daytime light (a huge plus for all our Instagramming needs) and I make note of the playful blush pendant lights and pineapple wallpaper for my own apartment inspiration.
We finally turn our attention to the pastry case and make a sweets checklist. Valrhona chocolate babka? Yes, please. Apple cranberry crumb cake topped with ginger oatmeal crumble? Check. But it’s the morning glory muffin that steals the show — the cream cheese icing brightened with dainty dollops of passion fruit is absolutely swoon-worthy.
By now, I’m basically half butter considering all the pastries we’ve devoured. To offset it, we decide to walk over to the L train and pop into some of the Bedford Street shops, namely Catbird, where I’ve had my eye on yet another selection (albeit a different kind) of sweet things.
Disclaimer: VIVA was a guest of Butler Bakeshop, however opinions and comments made by the writer remain unbiased and independent.