The butter half of breakfast

Butter Cafe is part of a complete breakfast

By Paula Johnson

Photo: Blueberry pancakes at Butter Cafe
Though it’s probably not enforced, there is an 1895 Wisconsin statute stating that it is illegal for restaurants to serve margarine unless the customer specifically orders it. Governor Warren Knowles called it  “the yellow stick from Satan himself,” and I would heartily agree. So a breakfast and lunch restaurant calling itself Butter Cafe definitely caught my attention and filled me with visions of piles of pancakes crowned with scoops of bright yellow butter. Fellow DCP pals set out with me to try this small, funky place, located on the edge of the University of Dayton campus.

Just in case

Butter Cafe is open until 3 p.m. everyday (except Monday when they close at 2 p.m.) and serves breakfast and lunch only. There is parking around the rear, which is a real convenience in that area of town. The first thing you’ll notice upon entering is an enticing bakery case featuring the day’s desserts, muffins and cupcakes. I spotted several vegan and gluten free options in the case as well. The restaurant’s space itself is tiny with a dining area fronted by a large window, making it a little drafty on the chilly day we went. We were greeted and seated quickly, with hot tea arriving to warm things up a bit.

Breakfast bonanza

I love a place that has breakfast anytime, meaning you can have pancakes at noon if you feel like it, and I did. Mmmmmm, pancakes. Yep, I am fussy about them. Butter Cafe has several on the menu and a few on the daily special, so I felt pretty confident in ordering them. Jelly Donut Pancakes ($7) with sweet raspberry filling between two buttermilk pancakes topped with a vanilla glaze, Almond Joy Pancakes  ($6.75) filled with toasted coconut, chocolate chips and almonds, and Banana Nut Pancakes ($6.75), studded with pecans, and layered with fresh sliced bananas. What’s a girl to do? While the more exotic options intrigued me, I stayed with my all time favorite: Blueberry ($6.50), thus ensuring I would get my daily dose of antioxidants, sugar and butter all in one.

I am always thrilled with a place that serves pancakes topped with melting mounds of real butter, and real maple syrup (there IS no other kind). In this case, however, nothing much could salvage the overdone toughness of these pancakes. Hopefully this was an anomaly and the presence of the many options on the menu for pancakes means that they are generally pretty good. When I return I plan to try them again, hopefully with a lighter, fluffier and less overcooked result.

Hash tag

Breakfast was also on the mind of Fearless Leader Katie, hers in the form of corned beef hash ($8.95). Butter’s version featured large hunks of corned beef mixed in and resting atop a pile of cubed potatoes, accompanied by a pair of eggs. Not too salty, not too greasy and plenty meaty made this the table winner. One of our team had the Classic breakfast ($7.95) and was satisfied with the straightforward eggs, bacon and toast combo. Omelets with an international flair—a Paris, a Mexican and an Italian—are also on the breakfast line up.

Our other two DCP crew were in lunch mode, so sandwiches were selected from Butter Cafe’s small but sufficiently varied menu. A fish sandwich, a grass fed burger, a vegan burger and even a grilled PB & J round out the lunch choices, along with a selection of salads and soups. We tried the Ham and Cheddar Melt ($7.95), thinly sliced ham, cheese, tomato and honey mustard on toasted rye, and the Hawaiian Chicken Sandwich ($8.50) with grilled marinated chicken breast topped with grilled pineapple on a toasted Kaiser roll. All sandwiches are served with kettle chips. Both sandwiches were fine, my favorite being the ham and cheddar melt. The Hawaiian chicken had a sliced tomato, which Megan felt could maybe have been omitted, but was still tasty.

We couldn’t leave without sampling a cupcake ($2.99), and Megan chose the red velvet, split four ways. One of our crew passed, and it was her loss. I would go back for the cupcakes alone! And for the butter.

Butter Cafe is located at 1106 Brown St. in Dayton. For more information, pleast call 937.985.9917 or visit buttercafedayton.com.

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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