Photograph by Carlie Statsky
Mo Better Buttery: If you were here, you'd be eating by now.
More Butter, Please
The Buttery expands to meet demand
By Selene Latigo
News travels fast in a small community such as ours, especially when it's about a well-established local favorite like the Buttery. At the store, at work, even on the street, I heard people talking about the new corner cafe that was finally unveiled to us after months of expectant waiting. A picture-perfect summer Sunday brought Dave and me, via a meandering seaside bicycle trip, to this fresh expansion on Soquel Avenue.
We found cheerful lemon yellow walls, classy crown molding, an ornately paneled ceiling and a breezy, window-lit atmosphere. The new semicircular configuration with two additional registers, gleaming deli case and mounted menu board creates a much-needed flow between the always-packed bakery side and the shiny counter service cafe area.
We grabbed the single laminated copy of the menu (more takeout menus are being printed) to peruse the vast, sandwich-oriented offerings made with house breads, free-range meats and organic eggs. Hot panini, cold sandwiches, a soup of the day and a couple of salad specials feature classic combinations with creative touches, all at very affordable prices. Breakfast is also available until 11am, and I was delighted to see the open-face French croque monsieur with ham, Swiss and béchamel sauce offered as well as--in true Santa Cruz form--its veggie counterpart, the croque madame. I'll be back for those, as well as the three breakfast sandwiches of frittata with roasted potatoes.
Back to lunch. Too hot from our sunny ride, Dave opted for one of the cold sandwiches and a frosty Boylan cream soda ($1.50) from the self-serve beverage cooler by the door. His antipasto sandwich ($6.50) on francese bread was well balanced with even layers of turkey, salami, provolone cheese, olive tapenade and tangy marinated red onion. This simple combination delivered distinct flavors, each layer standing out without becoming muddled. He also ordered a small bowl of simple, celery-flecked potato salad from the deli case, situated next to equally classic three-bean salad, Parmesan pasta salad and Caesar salad.
I chose the roasted vegetable and goat cheese panini ($6) on my choice of their thinly sliced German rye bread. The roasted strips of red pepper and zucchini were nicely grilled, maintaining structural integrity without all-too-common mushiness. Slices of avocado and cucumber added a fresh element while the scant goat cheese and sun-dried tomato mayo provided a rich contrast. I would have liked a bit more cheese, or perhaps the bite of a stronger chèvre to bring out more flavor. The rye bread was a good choice and grilled to crisp perfection. My small "bulk" salad ($3.50), one of the two daily salad specials, was chopped romaine with shaved fennel, green apple, blue cheese and pecans with a side of vinaigrette. Even though all of our selections were ordered to eat there, for some reason this salad was served in a cardboard to-go container. However, the delicate fennel was surprisingly apparent as well as the salty zing of the blue cheese, mixed into the refreshing cool and crisp lettuce.
While dining at a bakery, it is a must to eat dessert. I've always been a fan of the Buttery's rich cakes and generous cookies, and even though the new cafe has a small case with some sweet selections, we strolled over to the original room to choose from a broader array. They have the largest pecan sandie ($1.25) I have ever encountered, a thick disk, golden crisp on the edges and buttery soft inside, with a dark piping of ganache and rolled in toasty pecans. We also split a black bottom cupcake ($1.75) that was almost half and half cheesecake-esque cream cheese filling studded with chocolate chips on top of super moist chocolate cake. I scraped the cupcake paper for any last crumbs before Dave dragged me away for our ride home.
I think I can speak for most people by welcoming the Buttery's corner cafe into town, an enhanced breakfast and lunch destination with a bit more breathing room, great prices and quality products to enjoy. As with any brand new enterprise, there are some kinks to work out and routines to instill, but I will remain devoted to all of the old favorites while sampling the new items with zeal.
Address: 702 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz
Hours: 7am-6pm daily
Price Range: $3-$7.
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