“’Crawling at your feet,’ said the Gnat (Alice drew her feet back in some alarm), ‘you may observe a Bread-and-butterfly. Its wings are thin slices of bread-and-butter, its body is a crust, and its head is a lump of sugar.’”
You won’t find insects on the menu of Billy Allin’s new restaurant, Bread and Butterfly (290 Elizabeth St., 678-515-4536), but you’ll find plenty of playfulness worthy of the quote above from Lewis Carroll’s trippy kids’ book, “Through the Looking Glass.”
Some history: Allin’s original restaurant, Cakes & Ale (155 Sycamore St., 404-377-7994) in Decatur, is a foodie favorite. He opened the restaurant 10 years ago, and it was among the city’s fi rst to rely on uncomplicated, pointed flavors of sourced, often local ingredients.
Last year, he began a thoughtful expansion when he opened the addictive Proof Bakeshop (100 Hurt St., 678-705-3905) across from the Inman Park MARTA station. It serves a limited lunch and breakfast menu, including maybe the best Monte Cristo I’ve ever eaten. The main deal is the decadent pastries. Just go.
The new Butterfly will instantly remind you of a Paris bistro. Large windows are trimmed in dark green. Round tables and a dark-blue bar are topped with white marble. A black banquette stretches across a bright green, tiled bar. The only thing that doesn’t remind me of a Paris bistro is the seating. You don’t have to sit knee to-knee with your neighbor.
I’ve had one dinner with friends at Butterfly. The menu is mainly shareable small plates. Among those on our table were sliced Cherry Belle and D’Avignon radishes with impossibly rich Devon cream butter and crumbled, cured egg yolk. This was the only dish I don’t rate an A. It was all crunch with no peppery zing.
On the other hand, a side of braised Hakurei turnips was heavenly. You get a tender, barely crisp taste that’s typically earthy but followed by a strong shot of sweetness. A three-salad plate features lentils, beets, and celery root, all elegantly married to individual seasonings.
Three entrees were available the night of my visit, including a moan-worthy burger with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, mustard, and mayo with a side of thin, super-crisp fries. Another friend and I chose an amazing half-chicken anointed in crème- fraîche and then roasted and served thoroughly juicy, with lightly seasoned skin. My tablemate complained that his chicken was not fully cooked because of a bit of pink near the bone. I had no problem with that, but cooking fancy, well-bred chickens does seem to be challenging. They can be a bit stringy, especially if overcooked.
Next time I visit, I plan to order the red snapper baked in parchment served with olive relish and beurre blanc.
Dessert? I knew I’d be waddling from the table, but I can never resist pecan pie. This one was made with chocolate chips.
I can’t wait to try breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch here too. Allin’s perfectionism and a stellar staff on the floor and in the kitchen will make this as popular as Cakes & Ale, no doubt.