I didn’t realize in I was in the company of a local celebrity until walking through the door of Buttermilk Channel. The host fawned over us with grace and attention once she realized who my companions were. So, although my perception of the staff may have been slightly skewed, each element of the evening worked like a well oiled machine with unlabored friendliness, impeccable timing, and with nay a hint of pandering.
Before arriving, this restaurant was already on my good side… providing a separate vegetarian menu is a mark of a restaurateur’s attention to every detail of a finer dining experience. Big dogs like Per Se and Daniel do it, trendy specialized places like Zenkichi do it, even the Thai food machine Sripraphai does it. It makes marking vegetarian items on the regular menu with a little green v seem so low brow… besides this gives the chef the opportunity to show of their creativity by exploring whimsical variations on standard dishes for an audience that will, at a minimum, have respect the effort.
We began with all The Snacks! First to appear were the dill-icious House-made Pickles ($3) a lovely crunchy cousin from the Claussen’s clan. The spears and chips offer slight different flavors but I devoured them much too eagerly to remember their distinctions.
Caputo’s Handmade Mozzarella with basil and black olives ($5) begged for salt. You’d think the olives would have sufficed, but, um… they didn’t. Even the long turd of basil lacked pungent zip.
The Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Croquettes ($5) were unexpectedly uber goat cheesy and only mildly sweet potatoy, but as a girl who doesn’t believe in “too much cheese” this were a-ok with me.
Having faithfully read up on the menu before, I knew the Seasonal Soup ($7) would be Apple Something… tonight it was Apple Turnip.
Next came out the Delicata Squash Tart ($10) a flaky buttery pastry layered under house-made buttermilk ricotta and savory squash medallions delicately held together beneath a lacy doily of cheese. It is a robustly soft dish that crumbled into a beautiful disaster as we stabbed it greedily with our forks.
At some point Popovers with honey magically appeared on the table, so we ate them… and really could have cared less about them. If they had been smothered in more honey (and maybe some thyme) I would have cared a lot!
We took a “break” and snacked on the Cheese Plate ($10), the waitress wrote the cheeses written down for us, but Myles walked away with the paper and I don’t remember what they were… exactly… but I do remember what they tasted like. We had a gentle blue balanced with local honey, a sharp buttery cheddar-like cow, and another cow that we all agreed tasted like a barnyard.
Chris and Danielle ordered the Caputo’s Fresh Linguini ($16), miles of noodles fill the wide bowl along with brussels sprouts, roasted mushrooms and a confetti of pecorino and toasted breadcrumbs. After stealing bites of this dish I still do not understand how someone would consider putting bread on pasta a good idea… that is unless you also feel that crab saturation is scandalously decadent… but this concept has been unfortunately driven out of our society by all the diet fear mongers out there.
With the frequent mentions of the Cheddar Waffles ($14) raining in from all culinary fronts, I felt I had not choice but to order them despite the fact that vegetarian accompaniments sounding less then savory. Myles ordered it because he though it actually sounded good. The vulgar mound of assorted roasted mushrooms were uniformly bland, the brussels sprouts were tender under the outer charred leaves but the dijon mustard vinaigrette smothered the nuance right out of them. The cabbage slaw was a complete nonevent. As for the waffle itself, it has the slightest cheddar tinge and was dry… I suppose it was meant to be eaten it with the vegetables, but really, neither were going to help the other out.
Bellies full, we did the traditional share-a-dessert and settled on the Roasted Apple Bread Pudding ($7) with Warm Butterscotch Sauce and Whipped Cream – a not too sweet moist bread lump that I would have preferred ice cream with instead of whipped cream.
Despite the entree letdown, a fateful truth of most vegetarian dining experiences, the small dishes that preceded them won me over. Overall Buttermilk Channel is a lovely experiences with the refine rustic wooden tables collected under iron chandeliers and flowering branches pairing perfectly with the staunchly professional wait staff and crushed pine needle scent wafting through the bathroom hall.
524 Court St
Brooklyn, NY 11231