BU Today

Arts & Entertainment + Campus Life

Brunch Bets: Buttermilk & Bourbon

Tastes of the Louisiana bayou in Back Bay

1

There’s nothing like a relaxing weekend brunch with good friends and good food. But sometimes something more exciting than the standard omelet, French toast, or eggs benedict is called for. That something can be found at Buttermilk & Bourbon, which has one of the city’s most inventive brunch menus. Specializing in Southern cuisine, this Back Bay spot offers  contemporary takes on classic regional dishes. Think biscuits, grits, cornbread, shrimp, and oysters.

The restaurant opened last November, the latest from chef Jason Santos of Abby Lane and Back Bay Harry’s (soon to reopen as Citrus & Salt. Foodies will remember Santos as a fan favorite on season seven of Fox’s popular Hell’s Kitchen. Drawing on his penchant for fusion foods, he has concocted a menu that introduces a new set of flavors and textures to Boston’s brunch scene.

We found the cozy restaurant buzzing with activity on a recent cold Sunday. Guests are seated very close together at tiny tables in the dimly lit dining room, which feels more like a quaint Parisian café than a rustic Southern eatery. The tables are so small, in fact, that once our food began arriving, we felt compelled to finish each dish quickly lest we run out of room.

Menu items are served mostly tapas-style—small plates made for sharing. We weren’t sure how much to order for two; five dishes turned out to be more than enough and with most items on the menu $3 to $10, you won’t break the bank.

The biscuits come slathered with a fontina cheese–based gravy, topped with house-made sausage and chives. Photo by Maddie Malhotra (COM’19)

The biscuits come slathered with a fontina cheese–based gravy, topped with house-made sausage and chives. Photo by Maddie Malhotra (COM’19)

We had to try the buttermilk biscuits and gravy ($10), a Southern breakfast staple. Buttermilk & Bourbon’s version: biscuits piled high with scrambled eggs, house-made sausage, a smoked fontina gravy, and sprinkled with chives. The biscuits had a crispy crust and soft, flaky interior. The cheese-based gravy had a good, creamy consistency, but made the dish a bit messy and somewhat hard to share. The scrambled eggs and sausage offered a nice balance to the richness.

The shrimp and grits is a standout: well-seasoned shrimp nestled in a bed of grits, topped with a slow-cooked poached egg. Photo by Maddie Malhotra (COM’19)

The shrimp and grits: well-seasoned shrimp nestled in a bed of grits, topped with a slow-cooked poached egg. Photo by Maddie Malhotra (COM’19)

As soon as we finished the biscuits, the shrimp and grits ($7) arrived. Four seasoned shrimp and a slow-cooked egg were nestled on a bed of grits flavored with rosemary butter and garnished with green onions. The shrimp and the sauce partnered well with the plainer grits, but once the shrimp were gone, we had an unappetizing pool of sodden grits that we left.

The chicken and waffles (left) is tasty and filling. The crawfish benedict (right) is made with tasso ham, topped with fried crawfish and a hot Nashville hollandaise sauce. Photo by Maddie Malhotra (COM’19)

The chicken and waffles (left) is tasty and filling. The crawfish benedict (right) is made with tasso ham, topped with fried crawfish and a hot Nashville hollandaise sauce. Photo by Maddie Malhotra (COM’19)

The main course—and definitely the highlight—was a large plate of buttermilk fried chicken ($22). Several pieces of chicken with a crispy and flavorful crust were served alongside cheddar-bourbon waffles and cubes of watermelon, with sides of sweet and spicy syrup and Cajun spiced butter. The chicken was juicy and tender, and the syrup added a nice zing to both chicken and waffles, but the Cajun butter was a little overwhelming, best appreciated by lovers of hot seasonings.

We also tried the restaurant’s interesting take on a traditional brunch dish: a fried crawfish benedict ($15). Paired with the spicy fried chicken, the Stone and Skillet English muffin topped with tasso ham, a poached egg, and fried crawfish, slathered in a hot Nashville hollandaise, offered pleasant, complementary flavors, but the flavor of the crawfish was a bit lost amidst all the others in the dish.

We wanted to end our meal on a sweet note, and decided on a Louisiana specialty, the fresh fried beignets ($10), dusted with powdered sugar and served with a side of vanilla bean cream. The pillowy beignets were light and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside. Finished with the traditional powdered sugar, it was the vanilla bean cream that made these beignets stand out from any we’d had before.

Pillowy beignets, dusted with powdered sugar and served with a side of sweet vanilla bean cream, round out a Buttermilk & Bourbon meal. Photo by Maddie Malhotra (COM’19)

Pillowy beignets, dusted with powdered sugar and served with a side of sweet vanilla bean cream, round out a Buttermilk & Bourbon meal. Photo by Maddie Malhotra (COM’19)

Oyster fans will be happy to know that you can order them raw (three varieties, served in rotation) ($3 each) or fried in a classic po’ boy sandwich ($10). Other dishes worth singling out: the bananas foster pancakes ($8), with sweet walnuts and buttermilk whipped cream, pork cracklin cornbread ($8), and a smoked chicken and bacon hash ($10).

We left the restaurant not only full, but with a sizable amount of leftovers—and a hankering to visit New Orleans.

Buttermilk & Bourbon, 160 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, is open Monday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m., and Sunday for brunch, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner, 5 to 10 p.m. The bar is open Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday, 3 to 5 p.m. Phone: 617-266-1122. The restaurant accepts cash and all major credit cards and takes reservations. Take an MBTA Green Line B trolley to Copley and walk to Commonwealth Avenue. 

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch and brunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the Comment section below.

Lauren Frias can be reached at lnfrias@bu.edu or on Twitter @laurenfrias_.

1 Comments

One Comment on Brunch Bets: Buttermilk & Bourbon

  • Sam on 11.16.2017 at 9:56 am

    This place sucks! I went there last spring for dinner and the food was horrible. The fried chicken was greasy and unseasoned, they had hot Cheetos on the mac and cheese, I was amazed at how bad the food was. Unless they got a new chef, this place is not worth the time, and definitely not worth your money.

Post Your Comment

(never shown)