PASTRIES AND PICCOLOS: BROOKLYN'S FINEST BISTRO
Given the moniker for the surname of its Michelin starred pastry chef Ryan Butler, this bright, propitious corner café at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge will remind you of your long-lost love for brioche, crumb cake, scones, and toast. Interlacing the nostalgia of freshly homemade baked-goods with the exultation of detail-oriented gourmet cuisine, Butler brings its guests back to what food is supposed to bestow upon us: emotion, nourishment, and reverie.
Served on periwinkle plates, each delicatessen delights upon arrival. The craft, care, and thought put into each confection isn't lost on you when sampling any of their pastries. Whether lightly dusted with icing sugar, ribboned with vanilla bean and passionfruit cream cheese icing, or sprinkled with crystallized grated orange peel, Butler goes above and beyond, but manages still to avoid any pretension.
Butler's co-founders Rod Coligado and Hugo Murray are typically seen bustling about the cafe, either making your espresso or stopping to chat about the neighborhood. The interior of the café was designed by Hugo himself. He's a former advertising executive with an aptitude for tailoring textures and palette. Passionate yet affable, both Coligado and Murray take you back to a time when small businesses were the status quo, where people worked with pride at the shops they owned and knew their customers by name.
Partnering with their friends at Chicago's Intelligentsia Coffee, the Butler establishment provides your traditional espresso, cappuccino, macchiato, and hot & cold brew. You can order your libation with traditional, soy, and almond milk--but also with oat milk. Stepping into novel territory, Butler offers a Ginger and Turmeric latte: a salubrious yet luscious option for the non-coffee drinker, or the health-enthusiast.
The brasserie also lists a Piccolo (or its Latin American "Cortado"), a nod to Murray's home country of Australia where he and Coligado both worked in the hospitality biz in Sydney. The Piccolo is a mix between your traditional macchiato and a latte, blending espresso with warm or steamed milk to cut the acidity. It's often more dense, or rich, than the others.
In conscientious fashion, mirroring the location they're in, patrons chatting over sweets or lunch rolls are often sipping from Butler's classic, gray and beige ceramic mugs, and not wasting the beautifully designed paper cups. If one does have the time, coffee is certainly enjoyed best whilst sitting down with the morning's paper (and Butler's almond flour Sticky Date Muffin!). But if one doesn't have the time, the café has a 'to-go' window where ordering is quick enough to grab on the run.
A version of this article originally appeared in HAZEL NOIX on July 15th, 2017.