Butter, while universally agreed upon to be delicious and necessary, used to be just something you smear from a nondescript foil packet onto some forgettable pancakes, or—at best—something formed into an ornate shape and frozen onto its own plate. It was nice, but nothing special, and certainly not particularly interesting. But that's no longer the case.
Now, butter is often the main event. It's a crowdpleaser, raved about by critics and casual diners alike. It steals the show—instead of raving about a biscuit, no matter how fluffy, I more often hear something like, "That honey butter though." It comes in the purest, richest forms, with chefs importing butter from Ireland or France, or making it in house, making the cream and salt content just right. Otherwise, compound butter shines, with people adding in everything from rosemary to strawberries to trout roe. No matter how you slice it (or spread it), butter is having a moment.
Here are a few places doing the most interesting things with everyone's favorite dairy product.
1. Radishes with Black Olive Butter (French Louie, Brooklyn)
French Louie, a restaurant in Brooklyn, has a whole host of "petits," or small plates, on their brunch menu. But none are quite as engaging as these radishes, smeared with black olive butter, which adds brine, salt, and creaminess to the snappy, peppery radishes.
2. Bean and Cheese Burrito with Garlic Brown Butter (Trois Familia, Los Angeles)
Trois Familia, a trendy restaurant that improbably and amazingly combines French and Mexican cuisine, sneaks in interesting butter where you may not expect: its veggie burrito. Garlic brown butter adds depth to a simple bean and cheese combo.
3. Hush Puppies with Sorghum Butter (The Darling Oyster Bar, Charleston, South Carolina)
At Charleston's Darling Oyster Bar—and yes, it earns its name—they serve their signature hush puppies with sorghum butter. A grain traditionally spun into syrup in the South, sorghum adds a sweetness to butter that's far more interesting than honey.
4. Brioche French Toast with Honey-Foie Gras Butter (Fixe, Austin)
Austin's Fixe just recently launched brunch, and thank goodness they did. Because now you can eat their French toast, which boasts berries and granola as well as a honey foie gras butter that adds a savory note to a sweet plate.
5. Turkish Eggs with Tahini Yogurt and Chorizo Butter (Wares, Portland, Oregon)
Sometimes, you just gotta go big on flavor. And that's exactly what Wares does. They upped the ante, and added spicy, salty, meaty butter to their Turkish egg dish. Imagine spreading that on your toast.
6. Shrimp and Grits with Chile Worcestershire Butter (Dixie, Chicago)
Dixie's shrimp and grits get an upgrade with chile Worcestershire butter. Like, a whole lot of it. (It's that beautiful orange sauce around the grits in the photo up there.) Because when it comes to spicy, pungent butter, there is no such thing as too much.
7. Sprouted Grain Porridge with Miso Butter (De Maria, New York City)
Hotspot De Maria offers hearty, wholesome breakfasts with a twist. Its sprouted grain porridge is no exception. Combining cranberry molasses with miso butter, they've got the sweet-savory thing down.