New York Times Pans Bread and Butter

So much for Bread & Butter being the Phoenix rising from the ashes of its former incarnation Le Petit Marche.   Already facing an uphill battle after last year’s missteps regarding several DOH violations and what appeared to be a cover-up, Bread and Butter needed to come strong to the hoop to regain neighborhood loyalty. While commenters on BHB have had mostly positive things to say about the “new” eatery, today’s New York Times review by Sam Sifton doesn’t help the cause:

New York Times: A seafood gumbo comes thick with lobster and crab, but not with roux; it’s comfort food lite, and totally inoffensive unless you care about such things ($19). Chicken wings owe nothing to Buffalo, but they’re meaty and firm, with sauce more sticky than flavorful ($9). Baked taleggio with croutons and lingonberry jam nods at the place’s European roots; it’s good ($5).

The fried chicken, though, wan and chewy, rather than crusted and rich, raises ire ($18). Served with roasted corn that tastes as if it’s been out in the silo since August, fair mashed potatoes and brown gravy the flavor of salt, it has barely a lead on what you’d find at a steam-table salad bar somewhere along Second Avenue late one winter night on your way home from work.

So this is a taste of the new economy: first-apartment food in a bedroom community one stop from Wall Street, comforting only in name. It’s depressing. You’d think rillettes and moules frites would have been more resilient.

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  • Hungry Harry


  • Peter

    I have only eaten their once, and my experience was as follows:

    *My starter, the mac & cheese with bacon and caramelized onions, was absolutely delicious. A very, very close 2nd to the Jack the Horse mac & cheese, and I would highly recommend it to anyone in the neighborhood.

    *My main course, the deviled short ribs, were disappointing. The meat was tendered and braised correctly, but the strange “deviled” mustard crust dried out the meat in certain spots and left a strange aftertaste.

    *The wine list was reasonably priced and offered a decent selection.

    If I go back, would probably try the lobster roll. Good place, not my favorite in the hood but definitely solid.

  • AEB

    But it’s been embraced by the nabe. I don’t see Sifton’s review making a serious dent in patronage….

  • BBQ

    I ate there a few weeks ago and was less than impressed. I wanted to like it–in general I want to like any new place in BH–but I couldn’t, despite my best efforts. The food was mediocre at best (except for the mac and cheese, which was delicious, as another commenter stated). But more disappointing was the feeling that the entire restaurant was thrown together in a week’s time, with no thought of an overarching concept or customer comfort. The decor and menu are so bizarre and middling that they make Bread and Butter seem like a creation from Top Chef’s restaurant wars–put together hastily with not enough thought, time or financial investment to support it.

  • Matthew Parker

    Who are you going to trust? Some “professional” NYT food critic having a bad day, or twelve of your neighbors who give B&B an average of four out of five stars?

    The people have spoken. I’m tired of “professional” food critics making or breaking a restaurant.

  • Anon

    @ Matthew Parker: The problem is that Yelp reviewers aren’t exactly unbiased (nor are they always who they say they are–i.e. they may have a connection to the restaurant). I agree that the NYT shouldn’t be the arbiter of success for a BH restaurant, but Yelp isn’t necessarily a good alternative.

  • The Where

    This Silone woman has done nothing to endear herself or her establishment to this neighborhood. I say bring back the video store!

  • Matthew

    For whatever it’s worth, Sifton lives in the area.

  • AEB

    Sifton is low-cred on the food knowledge/expert-palate front. It’s remarkable how many Times dining reviewers have been.

    Most have learned on the job–still, you often feel (or I do) that that it’s more about providing snappy writing (in which category Sifton is also deficient) than knowing a burger from its bun.

  • Matthew

    Sifton is not low-cred, AEB. Though that’s kind of rich: calling out someone for lack of credibility from an anonymous blog-commenting alias! Classy, too!

    Bottom line for me (feel free to let me know what my “cred”-level is, AEB!): Bread and Butter is mediocre at best. At worst, some dishes are absolutely inedible. And that’s said ignoring their DOH issues.

  • Arch Stanton

    Sam, Thanks for the heads up… I keep walking down to Noodle Pudding…

  • AEB

    Mathew, sorry! How dare I suggest that anyone writing for the Times not be high-cred! (Must have been something I ate–or didn’t!)

    Of course the Times wields enormous power in the restaurant world; what I was referring to was Sifton’s credibility as a food expert. One can write and write and write about food, as I know Sifton has done for years, and still not, in my opinion know one’s..oats.

    More to the point, why are you, to me, so defensive about criticism of Sifton? And why should the anonymity of any poster on this blog (blog posters are usually anonymous, by definition) have anything to do with one’s right to an opinion, even one regarding credibility?

    PS, Mathew, I’ve read your reviews and your cred with me is high. Hate to be disarming, if that’s what I’ve just been, but….

  • AEB

    Ooops! I’ve confused Matthew with Mathew Parker, the Yelp reviewer.

    So I guess, Matthew, I haven’t read your reviews–or been disarming. Damn! And can’t comment on your credibility other than the commenting that’s implicit in my posting addressing you.

    The rest stands. Or reclines.

  • jorale-man

    I didn’t care much for the tone of Sifton’s review either. It suggested that Heights residents are a bunch of rubes who don’t appreciate snooty French cooking but line up for greasy Southern cuisine. Not every neighborhood restaurant needs to be incredibly highbrow and esoteric to be satisfying. (But what do you expect from a Dining section whose lead article is extolling the joys of killing bunny rabbits.)

  • cat

    $18 dollars for fried chicken?! That’s just ridiculous, y’all. Over the top prices for “comfort” food is no comfort to me. How much is the mac and cheese (which is apparently the only “delicious” item on the menu)?

  • brookie

    We went there last night and we really wanted to like it. We did. The cornbread was stale, the shortribs were lackluster, the mac and cheese was divine, and the fried chicken was boring. The worst part though, was that we witnessed recycling of the bread baskets. We sat right by the bread table and on four occasions, we saw the bread that was collected from a table that had completed their meals tossed into a bread basket that went to new diners. The first time, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me- but then…. it happened again and again. Am I naive? Have I been eating recycled bread at every restaurant? Does anyone else find that gross? Another set of people pawing at the bread with their probably unwashed hands and then their discarded biscuits go to the next table??? Maybe its me…

  • my2cents

    I think the most offensive part is that he refers to Brooklyn Heights as a bedroom community. Now that smarts!

  • jorale-man

    I noticed that too, my2cents. So obnoxious – We’re in the middle of NYC, not Scarsdale!

  • breuklyndiner

    Take it easy people its just food.
    The new york times review although a bit harsh is not all bad.
    And furthermore its not even a review, more like a rant.
    And I for one have dined there several times and thik its good. I know some of these self proclaimed food experts are the last word in cuisine LOL, but I know what I like.
    Let the people judge! And from what I have seen so far the people like it!

  • Arch Stanton

    brookie, not only is recycling bread gross, it’s a health code violation… unfortunately, it is not an uncommon practice. Having been in and around the restaurant business for years. I have witnessed and heard many stories of recycling bread and other items like garnishes… Yuckers

  • AEB

    I share your sense of affront, my2. But really, what is there to do here of a Saturday night, say? I mean, apart from using the “grabber” at Peas & Pickles to retrieve overhead rolls of Bounty Select-O-Size?

    And even that pales…

  • my2cents

    i love that grabber.

  • pankymom

    I hate the NYT. Why do they have to be such d*&<s?

  • Jake

    Actually, Sifton’s assessment of B&B is pretty accurate. The restaurant’s fried chicken is dreadful (and the accompanying corn stale). This is not true southern comfort food. It’s form over substance – pleasing to the eye, but not so much to the stomach.

  • Arch Stanton

    Recycled Bread & Butter….

  • nabeguy

    I have yet to eat at B&B, so can offer no opinions towards its quality, but if this reviewer is so well versed in it’s previous incarnation, where does he come off implying that it’s demise was due to the unsophisticated palates of us river-crossing rubes? He may lament the loss of a source of moules in the neighborhood, but it was the DOH who determined they were unfit for consumption, not the customers.

  • Kristen

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with Sifton. I had high hopes for this place, but the food was ridiculously bad. We tried the fried chicken, which tasted like it had been fried days earlier and then reheated. The catfish was served in a bed of oil and tasted like, well, oil. It’s disappointing, yes, but I’m not going to support a restaurant just because it’s in my neighborhood. Thank God for Noodle Pudding, the one rock in my never-ending quest for decent local food.

  • Joe

    I guess its not bread and butter after all.

    I would have tried this place earlier but the prices are a little steep for a neighborhood restaurant serving basic comfort food. It makes me wonder how Noodle Pudding puts out fare that is decent and reasonably priced. I do get a little tired of eating at NP all the time but I keep going there because its the only place in the nabe where the food is consistently good and affordable.

  • bkln

    HERES WHY…what do u get when u take washed-up, old school restaurant owners, bitter about the bold new young bkln dining scene and add to that a hired restaurant consultant? Bread + Butter. From a glance, its everything u want your great new local place to be…but when u dine there, u see it isnt any of that. The food is OK. A FEW dishes are actually remarkable. But the whole thing feels like a sham…The old french owners putting on a costume of new “simple cuisine”. Same space, same people…new logo, new menu. It has no soul.

    Given ALL THAT, the nabe needs a new place SO badly, we’d all suck it up and love it there IF…they were warm to their customers. Call it the French way, call it pissed off. Whatev. They don’t make u feel welcome. When it was French, the cold shoulder made sense…hey, part of the mystique. But now, it’s supposed to be homey, comfort food. There is nothing comforting or home-like about it. Why would u want to pay for that experience?

    Oh yeah and they recycle bread baskets. WHAT?! Didnt they learn anything from their doh closings?!

  • x

    if restaurants recycle bread baskets, I’m never dining out again or eating those things!!