The newest addition to the burgeoning strip mall expansion on North Carrollton Avenue, Brown Butter Southern Kitchen & Bar sits shaded from view, next to an urgent care clinic and a Subway sandwich shop. But the unassuming storefront shouldn't fool diners: It's where chef-and-owner team Simon Beck and Dayne Womax have been quietly cranking out modern takes on Southern comfort food for a lunchtime crowd since taking over the space in January.
The duo, of supper club Salty Swine fame, began dinner service last month, serving what they've dubbed "Bible Belt cuisine." The menu strays from Cajun and Creole staples, focusing instead on Southern-inspired fare from outside New Orleans, and its farm-to-table approach draws influence from Texas, Louisiana and the Carolinas.
The space, which consists of several big, wooden booths and a cluster of tables, has a comforting feel, and menu options reflect the restaurant's casual aesthetic. Service is friendly and accommodating, and a sizable back bar room provides ample space for those waiting for a table.
The restaurant's namesake appears frequently on the menu — in a brown butter vinaigrette on a salad of baby greens, white cheddar, apples and pecans and in the restaurant's homemade brown butter gelato.
Lunch and dinner menus are distinct, with the exception of a few items, including a starter of razor-thin pickle slices, battered and fried until golden brown.
Sandwich options include the T.L.T., a spin on the lunchtime staple that features house-smoked tasso, garlic aioli, crispy butter leaf lettuce and tomato wedges between slices of toasted bread.
Thick pieces of sourdough, grilled on a waffle iron, provide the infrastructure for a decadent chicken and "waffle" sandwich, in which buttery chicken confit is combined with smoked ham and aged white cheddar. After a press on the iron, the sandwich is draped in syrupy Steen's mustard glaze and sprinkled with powdered sugar, and the result is stick-to-your-ribs comfort food.
While some dishes need some fine-tuning, dinner service is still in the early stages and shows promise.
Beef tartare exudes classic, balanced flavors of mustard and brine, comes topped with a quail egg and is served with crispy house-made potato "crackers" and a roasted marrow bone topped with a generous portion of blood orange marmalade. While the chips make a fine accompaniment to the tartare, they are ill-suited for scooping up the silky, buttery marrow, which would benefit from sturdier accompaniment.
A roulade of rabbit tenderloin is cooked sous vide before being pan-fried, leaving the exterior crispy and golden. The dish is served with a medley of roasted seasonal vegetables and cornbread gnocchi. Charred pearl onions, radishes and carrots steal the show in the dish, and the buttery gnocchi somehow get lost.
New York strip loin steak is seared on the grill and topped with slivered almonds, crispy slices of celery and fire-roasted grapes. A smoky romesco sauce ties the dish together but the highlight comes in the form of pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth potatoes; roasted in bone marrow, the decadent orbs have a charred, crispy exterior that gives way to a creamy, buttery inside.
Sides include hand-cut fries with aioli and fried Brussels sprouts, which arrive perfectly browned, the outer leaves still crispy while each sprout retains a rich, nutty aroma.
The restaurant recently obtained a liquor license and a full cocktail program appears to be in the works. In the meantime, Brown Butter serves several wines and boasts six beers on tap.
House-made sodas are a welcome non-alcoholic option and include flavors such as nectar, the eponymous brown butter creme and an excellent peach-ginger blend.
With the addition of dinner hours and expected Sunday brunch service, Brown Butter is a prom-ising addition to Mid-City's rapidly expanding culinary scene.