Michael White has had a busy summer. The chef behind such acclaimed NYC Italian restaurants as Marea, Al Fiori, Nicoletta, and Osteria Morini branched out considerably this season by opening two new downtown spots at almost the exact same time: a pricey steakhouse in Soho called Costata, and a hopping, 1950s cocktail bar and "Wisconsin-style" supper club in Tribeca, The Butterfly.
It's unlikely I'll be getting to Costata anytime soon (the $58-per-person porterhouse is a bit out of my league), but The Butterfly menu and general vibe of the place seemed as if it would hit all of my casual-night-out sweet spots. And, after a terrific dinner there the other night, turns out I was exactly right.
Decor, Vibe, and Staff Make For a Great Night Out
I'm not really sure what makes The Butterfly Wisconsin-ish (it's where Michael White was born and raised, so he must know), but the mid-century decor is done up right, from the light fixtures and wall hangings to the typography and the servers' outfits. This is a fun, vintage aesthetic that plays well as neighborhood hang, not forced faux-retro plying for the tourist trade. And even though The Butterfly has trendy scene written all over it–in addition to White, the innovative cocktail program is run by Eben Freeman, of wd-50 renown–the staff is all genuinely friendly, totally professional, and more interested in promoting a good time than enjoying any sort of hot-spot power trip.
So Many Delicious Options on the Menu
The Butterfly food menu is appealing from beginning (the hearty hors d'oeuvres) to end (the ice cream sundaes), but since I had to start somewhere I ordered the Pork Rind Cracklings, which arrived at my table warm, spicy, cheesy, and literally still crackling from the fryer! These were fantastic. An instant contender for best bar snack in town. Next up was 'The Moby Dick', which is basically the filet-o-fish sandwich of your dreams, the cod thick and perfectly fried (crunchy/flaky/flavorful), the toppings all super fresh and contributing something to the party. And the accompanying thick-cut fries were awesome, somehow both chewy and crisp. Next time I would ask for some hot sauce for the sandwich, but otherwise, an excellent summer supper. I'll be back as soon as possible for more.
More Information: Michael White's The Butterfly
The Butterfly is located on West Broadway just south of White Street, a few blocks away from Glenwood's Tribeca Bridge Tower and worth the trip for everyone else. The Butterfly is open Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight, and on Friday and Saturday until 1:00 a.m. More information and the complete food/cocktail menus can be on The Butterfly's website.