|A little cake and coffee in Lowertown|
Monday morning, the doors opened on a new neighborhood breakfast spot on St. Paul's Seventh Street. The Buttered Tin is a collaboration between a pastry chef and a public relations professional who share a passion for great food.
Alicia Hinze discovered her love of baking at her grandmother's knee and honed her craft at Le Cordon Bleu's pastry program. More recently, she worked at Cupcake (even appearing on and winning Cupcake Wars
on the Food Network with Cupcake owner Kevin Vanderaa.)
Jennifer Lueck is a St. Paul girl whose love of food took her behind the scenes with the PR agency Strategy Factory, where she has worked with many successful restaurants in the Twin Cities.
The two came together and quickly realized that they had the same vision for a neighborhood spot with a beautifully stocked bakery case, butter-colored walls, and a host of savory foods where friends and family could gather to celebrate milestones or linger over coffee and wine.
What was once a sub shop is now a spacious cafe with walls the color of early morning with white accents. The ceiling is reminiscent of structural chocolate icing. Service is at the counter for breakfast, but switches to table-side for lunch. The bakery case is stocked with buttercream-topped cupcakes, moist cake that's not overly sweet. There are made-from-scratch breakfast bars, cookies, birthday cake, and savory biscuits.
|Butter my biscuit|
Served room temperature or gently warmed by the friendly staff, the biscuits are fluffy and tender they have a crispy crust. But why stop there?
|Or gravy my biscuits|
Why not take it to the next level by ordering the full biscuits and gravy? Crumbled sausage in a light gravy soaks into the crust. The gravy, while decadent, isn't too heavy, devoid of the glops in the truck-stop diner style of B&G. It's clearly made from scratch -- no flavor packets are present in this kitchen. They're even working on making all of their own breads from scratch. Everything here is cooked with time by either Hinze or their chef Jason Schellin.
Schellin joined the Buttered Tin from Smack Shack, but before that he was the head chef at Muffaletta. While he has nothing but nice things to say of his time with Smack Shack, he said he missed working in a smaller restaurant. Here, he's able to get back to cooking with seasonal and local products where possible. It's real, scratch cooking, elevated comfort food.
Every day they have some rotating specials like a daily hotdish, egg scramble, and potted cheese. The day we visited, the breakfast hotdish was a savory bread pudding with spinach and uncured bacon topped with creme fraiche and pickled onions. Each breakfast entree was also served with fresh, crispy greens -- lightly dressed -- and a collection of fresh fruit. Worth returning for are the pancakes served with bacon-studded butter and real maple syrup.
We also sampled their hash brown "omelette." Shreds of potato are fried until ultra crispy and folded over baby asparagus and gooey Gruyere cheese. So simple, it's borderline genius.
Lunch entrees include a fantastic caprese sandwich, with charred tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese on fresh foccacia served with a side of Bugles, perfect for a little table-side puppet show for the kiddies. The Buttered Tin's take on a wedge salad induced a little swooning. The layered lettuce salad (as they call it) is whole leaves of buttered lettuce, drizzled with a creamy dressing with tangy nubs of blue cheese and crumbles of smoky bacon that instantly tastes familiar, but resoundingly fresh.
So far they're only open for breakfast and lunch -- the liquor license is still in the works. However, once that is obtained (Lueck assures me it should be in place by next week), they will be serving beer and wine as well beer and wine cocktails created by master mixologist and Best of the Twin Cities Bartender Jesse Held.
The new Buttered Tin is fresh, comfortable, cozy, bright, and so far, a lot of fun.
|Owners Alicia Hinze and Jennifer Lueck|
The Buttered Tin
237 E. Seventh St., St. Paul