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Lunch, Anyone? South End Buttery Beckons

A classic café on Shawmut Avenue delights the taste buds


Surrounded by elegant boutiques and home design stores on the corner of Shawmut Avenue and Union Park, South End Buttery serves up casual charm alongside classic dishes. This bakery and café has become a popular destination for those working on the MED campus. A recent visit showed why.

The café is small and welcoming. It’s divided into a narrow, sunny front room and a dark-paneled back room featuring banquettes and a full bar. South End Buttery serves a medley of soups, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods for lunch, available to eat there or to take out. (The café also offers dinner and weekend brunch.) With everything from club sandwiches and chef’s salads to veggie burgers and Szechuan noodle salads, you’ll find something guaranteed to whet your taste buds.

We arrived on a recent weekday with several friends in time for lunch. The outdoor sidewalk dining area was full, so we moved inside, determined to order an assortment of dishes. Soon armed with fresh lemonade and iced lattes, we didn’t have to wait long before our food arrived.

grilled cheese at South End Buttery, places to eat lunch in Boston, BU MED campus, cafe sandwiches

Grilled cheese with gruyère, blue cheese, aged cheddar, and tomato on sourdough bread.

The grilled cheese and tomato ($7.75) sandwich was a hot, melting splendor. A combination of gruyère, Maytag blue, and aged cheddar cheeses oozed out from between thick slices of perfectly grilled, golden brown, buttery sourdough bread. Slices of fresh tomato made this grilled cheese a real standout. We weren’t even halfway through the sandwich when we found ourselves getting full and had to pace ourselves. There was still plenty more to try.

The chicken gonzaca salad ($8.95) was delicious—a large helping of mixed greens, herb-grilled chicken breast, shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese, golden raisins, and cherry tomatoes drizzled with a tasty balsamic vinaigrette. A friend noted that the chicken was surprisingly flavorful and tender. This was just one of several salads on the menu; others included a beet and blue cheese salad and a curried chicken salad.

A friend’s turkey burger ($11.95) was stuffed generously with natural grain-fed turkey, guacamole, chipotle aioli, lettuce, and tomato. The guacamole proved necessary, unfortunately, as the burger was overcooked and dry.

chicken salad at South End Buttery, places to eat lunch in Boston, BU MED campus, cafe salads

Chicken gonzaca salad with mixed greens, herb-grilled chicken, shaved parmigiano-reggiano, golden raisins, cherry tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette.

For comfort food done well, you can’t beat the meatloaf sandwich ($7.95). If you’ve never eaten meatloaf between bread you’re missing out. Slices of meatloaf were smothered in gruyère, chipotle aioli, caramelized onions, and arugula, and sealed in ciabatta. This was one mean panini. The onions added flavor to an already scrumptious sandwich. The cheese slightly overwhelmed the rather small portion of meatloaf, but more cheese is never a deal breaker in our book.

South End Buttery is one part bakery, so despite our full stomachs at meal’s end, we had to sample a few of their tempting desserts. The pastel colored cupcakes called to us, and after much deliberation, we selected a lemon raspberry rose ($5) and a strawberries and cream ($3). The former was our personal favorite. The pleasant taste of rose was noticeable amidst the citrus and berry flavors. Everyone agreed the ratio of frosting to cake was spot on, and the frosting was neither too heavy nor too sweet. The pretty strawberries and cream cupcake was also delicious and fluffy. We also tried some chocolate-dipped macaroons ($2.25 each) which were moist and coconut-y, partly drenched in good dark chocolate. The chocolate bouchon ($2.25), a small dense cake, was filled with a creamy chocolate ganache—a decadent little dessert.

cupcakes at South End Buttery, places to eat lunch in Boston, BU MED campus, cafe and bakery desserts

Lemon raspberry rose cupcake (front left), strawberries and cream cupcake (front right), chocolate-dipped macaroons, and chocolate bouchon (back).

Founded by BU alum Richard Gordon (LAW’89) and his partner in 2005, South End Buttery uses organic, all natural, and locally raised ingredients wherever possible. The menu offers contemporary takes on classic American and English fare and even offers fresh biscuits from the nearby Polka Dog Bakery for patrons of the four-legged kind.

South End Buttery is a great place to enjoy an espresso and a good book alone or to get together with friends and eat well. Make time to check out the surrounding neighborhood when you go, and don’t forget to grab some pastries for the road.

South End Buttery, 314 Shawmut Ave. at the corner of Union Park, Boston, is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dinner table service with a full bar is from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Brunch table service is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The café accepts MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. Reservations are accepted. Catering is available. For take-out orders call 617-482-1015. By public transportation, take the MBTA Green Line trolley to the Boylston stop, then the walk to Tremont St. opposite Avery St. and take the #43 bus to Tremont St. at Union Park. Turn left onto Union Park, and the café will be on the corner at Shawmut Ave. Or take the BU Bus from any stop inbound to 560 Harrison Ave. Turn right onto Union Park and walk about five minutes to Shawmut Ave.

Erin Thibeau can be reached at ethibeau@bu.edu. Follow her on Twitter at @erinthibeau.

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