Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dine About Town: Butterfly

I have been inexplicably slow to post this. Granted I dined at both these places only this last Saturday but lately I have actually been diligent about reporting the weekends eatings come Monday/Tuesday. I guess perhaps I feel overwhelmed to bring you not one but TWO fab new SF spots. As you know I have been positively giddy to start "dining about town". I reserved and re-reserved. I scoured menu's and websites. Made plans without actually looking at when restaurants are participating (I'm giving you the stink eye you stingy bastards that aren't offering the prix fixe on Saturdays). Finally everything was settled and I got to spend two individual meals with my two favorite San Franciscan's, a delightful cocktail/mimosa fueled brunch/lunch with Michele at Butterfly on the Embarcadero and a romantic evening with my platonic lover Andrew at Luna Park in the Mission.

Shall we begin?

Adjacent to Pier 33 Butterfly is just close enough to the tourist action that if you felt like walking to the Ripley's Believe it or Not you could but just far enough that you still feel like you are in hip SF. While it took us a second to find the entrance the actual space is not hard to find by any means and there are a number of parking structures within a block or so. Originating on Mission Street Butterfly moved to it's current location in 2003. You can read more about the restaurants history and chef HERE.

On entering the space I was impressed by the view extending along the whole back wall of the restaurant. You can see all the way across the bay and they take great advantage of the windows by lining them with shallow booths that let you turn and gaze out. Although it makes for interesting dining sitting next to vs across from your dining partner we both enjoyed the lounge like feel of the booth. There are also plenty of standard tables throughout as well. Although the paint and decor has a dark edge to it the windows and high vaulted ceilings still make it feel spacious, open, and bright.

I was unaware until we were presented with the menu's that on the weekends they were doing a prix fixe "Brunch" menu which included a few breakfast type items along with a few from the lunch menu I had read online. The appetizers remained the same but there were a few substitutions to the entrees choices including The Smoked Salmon & Avocado Eggs Benedict (which I ordered) and the Wild Mushroom Scramble (which I coerced Michele into ordering).
After ordering we were presented with some complimentary seasoned edamame that were spicy and savory and helped kill time while we waited anxiously for our first courses to arrive.

 The Fried Calamari with Tabasco Remoulade and Ponzu Cucumbers for Michele and for me the Kahlua Pork Lettuce Wraps. Both appetizers had a nice presentation and were served appropriately warm. I was very impressed by the quantity of Butter Lettuce leaves served with my pork! It seems inevitable most places that you will have to ask for more leaves when you order lettuce wraps as they never give you enough, but here I ended up with more than I needed. The pork had the inherent sweet/saltiness that I love about any pulled pork with the distinct smokiness attributed to Kahlua pork preparation. There were some thinly sliced bell peppers strung throughout and it was served with some hoisin on the side to moisten everything up. While tasty I wouldn't say this dish was overly inventive. Still it was really enjoyable.

Michele's Calamari were served nice and crispy drizzled with the remoulade on a bed of thinly sliced cucumbers that had marinated in a ponzu sauce. All the flavors and textures were great together although if not eaten quickly it did begin to get a little soggy near the end. The highlight were the cucumbers, their ponzu flavor sweet, tangy, & inviting.

A key component I have been looking for in restaurants these days is an interesting and cuisine appropriate cocktail list. Butterfly had a number of fun sounding options along with a brunch special of $18 for bottomless mimosas.

I first went for their Cucumber Kiwi Gimlet (seen to the left) and followed it up the Honey Bourbon sour (seen to the right). The Gimlet was fantastic, tangy and refreshing and the fresh kiwi provided not only unique flavor but also texture. Don't be scared off if you are not a Gin lover, the notes are light and over powered by the other components of the drink.

The reverse was true of the Honey Bourbon Sour. The Bourbon seemed to over power everything in the drink from the aroma to mouth feel to finish. While the orange bitters made there presence noticed the orange blossom honey and lemon were barely distinguishable. If you are not a whiskey or Bourbon fan I would steer clear of this one as it was a little overwhelming.

Our entrees arrived served on fashionable white plates, mine long and rectangular, Michele's in a deep bowl with sloping sides giving a dramatic presentation of her scramble nestled inside. A sweeping statement on both our dishes was that they were RICH. The combination of naturally fatty smoked salmon and avocado with the creamy hollendaise was decadent but almost more than I could handle. I only managed to eat one although had I not had an appetizer could have maybe finished both. I loved the addition of the tobikofraiche finished off the dish with additional textures and flavors. While we both really enjoyed our entrees I do have to say that unless you are going for brunch on the weekend (which you should) I don't think they were a true reflection of the cuisine of Butterfly. Their blend of various Asian techniques and ingredients appear to be more evident in their other menu's. I can speak to my experience which was lovely and I hope to have another opportunity to dine there again soon, maybe instead for a dinner, and check out their other specialties!

Keep an eye out later today or tomorrow for the Luna Park review!

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