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Photograph by Carlie Statsky
Morning, Noon and Right: Delicate pastry in the morning, hearty sandwiches at lunch—there's no reason to ever leave the Buttery before sundown again.

Restaurant Review: The Buttery

It isn't just for breakfast anymore

By Denise Vivar

I imagine my life some time from now, when I have it all together, and I envision a woman fully actualized. I learn to play the cello, I write books with titles like My Year in Bhutan and I have distilled my wardrobe down to three fabulous pieces that are somehow always clean. And oh, my pantry is always stocked for the perfect pistou for a surprise guest. This last goes along with some fantasies about staying home, cooking all day and knocking my friends' socks off with my culinary prowess. Alas, this is all still evolving.

But even when I can't spend three hours braising carrots I can still appreciate good food and honor the tradition of making mealtimes special. Life on the go does not have to mean "fast food" as we have come to define it. Over Labor Day I was heading into several dynamic days surrounding some friends' wedding—back-to-back parties, decorating, rehearsal, recovery, looking beautiful, doing whatever needed to get done and bringing something delicious to share. It turns out that the Buttery was squarely in my path to and from the proceedings for the entire weekend, and so it came to be my personal Labor Day weekend caterer.

On Thursday after work I picked up and delivered the sound system, then pulled into the Corner Café, as it is also known, and chose a few salads to bring to the bachelorette cocktail hours. There are a number to choose from, and they all looked inviting, but I left with the Chinese salad, the Greek orzo salad and the peanut sesame salad ($3.50 small, $6.50 large). The Chinese salad was refreshing, with a lively mix of crunchy romaine, Chinese cabbage, roasted slivered almonds, snow peas, carrots, cilantro, green onion and crispy wontons. I added free-range chicken breast for $2.

The Greek orzo salad is simple—orzo pasta and tangy, salty feta cheese among the kalamata olives, fresh cherry tomatoes, red onion and parsley. The spicier girls among us preferred the peanut sesame noodle salad with its yellow and red bell peppers, carrot medallions, green peas, onion, asparagus, cilantro and red pepper flakes.

Friday and Saturday were a whirlwind of decorating, rehearsing and of course the big ceremony, and I was sustained by and large by granola bars during the long days before dinner. In my few spare moments I wished I had stopped in at the Buttery for one of its awesome breakfast sandwiches.

On Sunday we lounged. Poolside we dipped into another array of the Buttery's salads, this time the summer tomato, old-fashioned potato and summer bean salads.

The summer bean salad was satisfyingly fresh and crunchy, full of fresh corn, edamame, fennel and green beans with a zippy bite from the cayenne pepper. The old-fashioned potato salad is the classic, just like Mom used to make if she also used red bell peppers: hefty chunks of potato, bits of red onion, celery, boiled egg, mayonnaise and a hint of mustard.

The summer tomato salad was the decided hit with its heirloom and cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, olives and large crispy croutons. The sweet tomatoes married well with the salt of the olives, and the croutons brought what would have already been a very good caprese salad into another dimension, something like a crunchy panzanella. Its refreshing and robust summer flavor was much appreciated after a long afternoon in the sun.

By Monday one might think I had recovered well enough to whip up a nice Labor Day spread, but I simply didn't have it in me. So it was one more trip to the Buttery for lunch.

There are a number of sandwich and burger offerings in addition to all the salads, as well as full breakfast service, not to mention bakery cases full of sweet treats. This time I decided to sit in and enjoy the service and ordered the summer galette ($3.50). The galette resembles a colorful deep dish open-faced pie full of bright and crisp vegetables—organic summer squash, red bell pepper, zucchini, carrot, caramelized onion, basil, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.

I enjoyed the warmed galette as I contemplated more quiet times and imagined myself in a slower life, practicing my cello while a pot of something savory simmers for hours on the stove.

The Buttery

Address: 702 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz

Phone: 831.458.3020

Hours: Open daily 7am-7pm

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