Ahh...Sunday, let's do brunch, but somewhere in our SOMA neighborhood and oh yeah, there's a baseball game today! Yes, all recipes for a disaster of long waits, but we venture out anyway and decide to hit up The Butler and The Chef, and if it's too busy we'll keep on walking.
Fortunately, it wasn't bad, 10 minutes at most and we were seated. It's an intimate narrow space with small round tables and iron backed cafe chairs. They've done a really good job of giving it that tiny French Bistro effect. Plus the place is packed, all we needed was someone speaking French and blowing cigarette smoke in our faces. The chef owner is an original French chef and you can see him working away in the glass walled kitchen. They use imported French products in their dishes and bake all their own bread and pastries fresh daily. We are here for brunch so we decide to go with some Butler favorites--eggs benedict and croque mademoiselle.
The eggs benedict are two poached eggs with Niman ranch ham covered with fresh made hollandaise sauce (which is true as you can see them make it in the kitchen) served on toasted organic house made olive loaf and a side spinach salad with a lite vinaigrette. This is a pretty hearty big plate. We both liked this dish but felt it was just missing something. The sauce, eggs and ham were perfectly fine though I felt they lacked some seasoning. The sauce wasn't as buttery as I would have expected at a French restaurant. The eggs were cooked just right and it was good to have the yolk drip over the dish. I did need to add more salt and pepper to give just a kick of taste to it all. The olive loaf bread could have been toasted a bit more and maybe buttered? Though I won't say I was the biggest fan of the bread, it was a bit too earthy olive for me. In a round about way I'm just being a nitpicky because it wasn't like the food was inedible. It was all put together well and was fresh and looked good on the plate, but as I said before, it just needed a touch more flavor/seasoning.
The croque mademoiselle is a play on the croque monsieur but with baked smoked turkey (instead of ham) and emmental cheese on toasted organic white bread with creme fraiche and nutmeg upon which I added tomato and herbs of provence. It comes with the same side spinach salad and a few cornichons (I do love a little pickle). This was a very tasty sandwich that is full of creamy, cheesy goodness and the nutmeg sprinkle on top adds just a touch of off-branded sweetness that compliments the cheese and creme fraiche. I also like the crust they got on the creme, it's almost like the top of a brûlée. The tomatoes added a nice bit of acid to offset some of the sweetness. The bread was fresh and crusty and held up well under all the toppings. The only other thing I might have liked would be if they could offer to put an egg on it to make it a croque madame, I didn't even think to ask, maybe next time.
The Butler and the Chef is a perfect little breakfast/lunch spot to hit, but keep that in mind, it's only open for those meals. Waits can be long on weekends so it's better to go later or when they first open if you are into the waiting and aren't a hipster. They have a vast menu of things that looked tasty as they were delivered to other tables and that along with the croque sandwiches will keep me and the SO coming back when we feel too lazy to venture too far out of our hood.