I often tell people there isn’t any reason to drive across the river (from Minneapolis/West Metro) to St. Paul to dine. Sure there are good restaurants in St. Paul. But there are so many more in Minneapolis. When I say that, I’m (mostly) joking of course. There’s Meritage, which is my favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities. And I’ve enjoyed a couple of great lunches at Ngon Bistro.
Now I have another really good reason to come to St. Paul; my son-in-law recently became the kitchen manager and chef at The Buttered Tin in Lowertown. My wife and I met friends for brunch there on a Thursday late morning.
Buttered Tin is a bakery and café. Peter’s involvement is mostly with the kitchen, but the bakery gets a lot of media attention. So if you think of Buttered Tin as primarily a place to pick up good-tasting, creative baked goods, you really should give the café a try. It’s open for breakfast and lunch (until 3 p.m.)
Personally, I’m a fan of breakfast, and Buttered Tin has a great breakfast menu. On this visit, all of us had breakfast food. I normally prefer a restaurant where you are seated and place your order with a server. At Buttered Tin, you place your order at the service desk and receive a number. Then you’re seated and the food is brought to you. We arrived at a good time. We got a table as soon as we placed our order. But sometimes, customers have to wait for a table to open up. The service staff is very good about helping customers find a table before the food is ready.
Peter had previously told me about TBT (The Buttered Tin) Hash, so I came primed to order it. I did look at the other items, but stuck with my original intent and ordered the hash. I had an ‘appetizer’ after ordering my meal. It was an oatmeal cookie Moon pie – two moist and tasty cookies stuck together with a white creamy filling. They were in a display next to the register. They looked so good I couldn’t resist, so I had one with coffee while waiting for my hash.
The hash was excellent. There was a wonderful variety of vegetables, crisply cooked and served in a small cast iron pan. Particularly noteworthy were the mushrooms and Brussels sprouts. It was topped with a sunny-side up egg. The egg was expertly prepared with fully cooked but still tender whites and a creamy yolk that bathed the hash in a rich coating when broken.
My wife had crab eggs benedict. It was two beautiful thick crab cakes each one topped with a poached egg. Instead of Hollandaise, these had a rich, herby white sauce. It was served with crisply sautéed asparagus and a small mixed green salad. She said she was pleased that it wasn’t served on an English muffin, as eggs benedict usually are. She also really liked the asparagus, though that’s not normally one of her favorite vegetables. She also liked that the dressing on the salad was very light.
Everyone at the café was very friendly and accommodating. Peter was able to stop by the table and chat for a few minutes. (That’s when we had the picture taken.) The ambiance is very bright and open with big windows looking onto 7th Street. When the weather is nice, they have sidewalk tables for customers to eat outside.
Besides breakfast food, the menu has a nice selection of lunch items. Linda and I both were intrigued by the short rib Reuben sandwich that sounded particularly innovative and good. When we make our next return trip to St. Paul, she likely will order it. I’m sure I’ll end up ordering off the breakfast side of the menu again.