The theme for Bacon & Butter’s first-ever dinner service was, naturally, bacon and butter.
OK, mostly it was bacon, in honor of the fifth annual Bacon Fest (full disclosure: SN&R editor Nick Miller is a founder of the festival). Tickets for the three-hour affair sold out quickly, and anyone without restraint walked away so, so full.
Executive chef and owner Billy Zoellin headed his usual Bacon & Butter team as well as chef Robb “Rossi” Venditti, the caterer who used to lead Pangaea Bier Cafe, and chef Marty Hutton, who recently left Kupros for the food truck life.
In other words, attendees were in excellent hands.
It began with passed appetizers: bacon lobster tater tots, mini burgers and the official Béacon & Butter tea sandwich. The burgers were named after Rodney Blackwell of Burger Junkies fame; they were topped with bacon steak, truffled jack cheese, black garlic aioli and sat on a flaky biscuit. They were awesome, but my favorite bite all night was that little sandwich: foie butter, crispy bacon and shaved shallot hugged by plain white bread. There was also a fabulous oyster with bacon mignonette. But let’s just get to pictures already.
Dubbed “Millionaire’s Bacon,” this black garlic cured hunk of pork belly was bruleed for an optimal caramelized crust. A soft, cured egg yolk ramped up the richness while a brussels sprouts kimchi brought brightness.
The gnocchi stroganoff was intense. Even just the words “gnocchi stroganoff” sound intense. Two fat portions of smoked bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin were greeted by black trumpet and miatake—read: fancy—mushrooms, creamed ham hok jus and shaved black truffle.
But the dish that earned the most oohs and ahhs upon arrival was the chicken fried bacon and quail. Yeah. Plus, a foie gras-laden, crispy waffle and uber-tart kumquats. Just a plate of that fried bacon probably would have made everyone happy.
Our stomachs got a nice break with a late salad course: frisee coated in a bacon-lemon dressing, grated grana padano, lamb lardons and a poached itty-bitty quail egg. OK, it was rich for a salad, but in that moment, it felt like welcomed green air.
The night concluded with a dessert buffet—either folks were too stuffed to take advantage of it or they were being very polite. Bacon & Butter’s head baker Nena Rasul churned out a beautiful assortment of tiny goodies: bacon chocolate cheesecake, panna cotta on bacon shortbread, maple bacon cronuts and perfectly sweet-salty éclairs with bacon and caramel.
Puur Chocolat’s chocolate spread starred bacon as well: bacon, bourbon and coffee; apple, bacon jam and crème fraîche; and almond and bacon praline.
Will Bacon & Butter ever host a dinner again?
“Well, now I’ve got the plates,” Zoellin said, laughing.
The more serious answer is maybe, and if they do, folks who are signed up for the newsletter will find out first.