I always love a good restaurant recommendation. That’s why I joined the SOMA Eats Local Facebook group, where people from my community gather to discuss the latest and greatest food nearby. Get the lunch menu meatball sandwich, they might say of Arturo’s, the legendary wood-fired pizzeria in Maplewood village. The Maple Leaf Diner has great specials and ample portions, someone might opine. Most days, I log on to Facebook for the explicit purpose to see what people are saying about good eats in my community.
A while back, possibly in January, someone posted about Butter & Jam, a restaurant in downtown Madison known for a delectable brunch. I tucked away a mental note about the place for a future outing with a friend. Fast forward to today, when my friend Carol and I visited Butter & Jam for lunch. And, reader, it was worth the wait.
I wouldn’t call the interior welcoming, although the people who work there are warm. The spare environs with probably bad lighting belies the glorious food that’s churning out of the Butter & Jam kitchen.
We started with beverages from their “cafe” menu (accessible via QR code because this is how restaurants work now): I ordered an iced latte and Carol got a hot caffe mocha. The iced latte was delicious, likely due to the fact that Butter & Jam uses illy coffee and espresso, known for its high-quality, consistent bean blend. Poured into a cavernous mug, Carol’s mocha was delicately decorated with chocolate sauce cross-hatches and foam a mile deep. It was, in a word, gorgeous.
Moving on to the winning food, we ordered the Butter & Jam board: mountains of housemade, fresh-baked miniature buttermilk biscuits, miniature croissants, and quartered (normal-sized) corn muffins surrounded by blended butters — strawberry, blueberry, and cinnamon honey — and three housemade jams — strawberry, peach, and blueberry — all sitting like Hallmark ornaments on a spacious tray. As Carol and I pored over the menu, we noticed that the Butter & Jam board was recommended for “two to four,” which struck me as odd because the difference between two people and four people seems relatively vast — how could this serve up to four people or also be satisfactory for two? Once I dug in, I realized that the board is actually sufficient for two people like Carol and me.
The star of the Butter & Jam board is unquestionably the corn muffin. Supple and — dare I say — moist, the muffin has a vibrant corn flavor with a touch of sweetness. The divine texture makes it the perfect canvas for one of the jams, which were all bursting with colorful fruit flavor. The butters were, on a whole, less impressive to me. While the cinnamon honey butter offered a hearty tang, the strawberry and blueberry butters were a tad too subtle in my opinion. It’s worth noting that the dense and crumbly buttermilk biscuit and flaky croissants were also a notch above. But the corn muffin is the star of this place, and I won’t accept a different opinion on this matter, thank you very much.
Moving on to our entrees, Carol and I both ordered the Mexicano Ensalada (which both of us called the “Mexican salad” for whatever reason). I paired mine with salmon, while I twisted Carol’s arm to get some grilled chicken on hers. I found the salad to be exquisite. The salsa verde dressing — which, if I’m being honest, I didn’t quite understand from the menu description — is a runaway favorite, I’m sure. It’s bright and floral, with a sweet undertone, and totally creamy. Our delightful waitress commented that our salads were the last ones they were making for the day. Not only is there a baby formula shortage happening in America today, but apparently there is also a shortage of this perfect salsa verde. Somebody call The New York Times.
In addition to the completely delicious dressing, the salad boasted a half avocado that was conveniently sliced (although I forked through chunks of it anyway), red onions, and cherry tomatoes tossed with mixed greens and topped with a pile of tortilla chip strips. It was perfect.
I highly recommend Butter & Jam, but it’s important to note that Apple Maps didn’t take me to its actual location, which I somehow intuited toward through an alley that Carol and I were both surprised we didn’t pass by without notice. What I’m trying to say is don’t use Apple Maps to get there.
Butter & Jam also serves dinner, which is certain to be outrageous. After your meal, be sure to stroll around downtown Madison, which is filled-to-the-brim with charming boutiques, like a yarn store and old-timey toy store.
30 Cook Plaza