South End Buttery

My cup of coffee surveys the bar at the back of the South End ButteryBoston’s South End Buttery is an excellent bakery/café that, until this visit, I had tabbed exclusively as a breakfast spot. Its breakfast offerings aren’t as extensive as some other establishments; mostly egg sandwiches on biscuit (American, not British) or bagel, with hot oatmeal as an alternative. I usually opt for the egg sandwich on a biscuit which never fails to satisfy while leaving space for lunch and dinner later in the day!

If you come for lunch there’s the usual range of sandwiches prepared while you wait and some tasty pastries to tempt you throughout the day. The South End Buttery changes a little in the evenings and at the weekends. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 to 15:00, while the bar (see below) turns into restaurant from 17:30 onwards, staying open until 22:00 (23:00 Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays).

Since I’ve only ever been there on weekday mornings I can’t really comment on the merits or otherwise of it as a dinner/brunch spot. One day I’ll visit on the weekend and let you know!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

The South End Buttery has been my other regular Boston breakfast spot since I started staying in the South End three years ago. I tend to go there when I need a break from over-eating at Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe. However, I hadn’t really appreciated it for its coffee until this trip.

I’m talking, by the way, about the bakery/café on Shawmut Avenue, just off Union Park Square, not the more utilitarian-looking market/café a few blocks away on Clarendon Street. To give you some idea of my preferences, during my latest visit, I walked past the Clarendon Street branch in the pouring rain to get to Shawmut Avenue for my breakfast.

Sitting on a corner block, the South End Buttery is long and thin, but makes very clever use of the space. There’s a row of five bar-stools in the window next to the drinks collection point, while down the side, opposite the counter, there’s the bulk of the tables. Windows down the side and at the front give it a light and airy feel, complemented by the wooden floor and tables. The one criticism I have of the layout is that the menu starts at the till where you order, so if you join the back of the (often extensive) queue, you can’t actually work out what you want until you get to order, which is a slight drawback. This could be resolved by putting the menu boards at the other end of the counter. Or by me becoming a regular, so I’d know what I wanted without looking 🙂

The best part, however, lies beyond the counter, down a narrow, tiled corridor which leads to a fantastic, snug little room, complete with a real bar. This is definitely the place to sit with your coffee, especially since you can often have it to yourself, even when the rest of the store is busy. Plus, if you stay up by the counter, there’s a constant stream of customers going by, regardless of where you sit.

At the back, you have the choice of a high-backed bar chair at the marble bar, a padded bench by a low, curved table or a seat at one of the high tables by the windows where you can perch on either a chair or a padded bench. The room is done out in dark wood and leather, with the same wooden floor as the main area.

On my previous visits I’ve not really paid much attention to the coffee. I was therefore surprised and impressed to see the option of a French Press, although I confused my server, Kaylee, by trying to order a cafetiere! There’s a choice of light or dark roast (no third-wave single origin beans here; although the supplier, Equator, has plenty on offer!) and, having selected the dark roast, I was rewarded with a strong, smooth coffee that went down very well first thing in the morning.

I also ordered an espresso, and while it could have done with being a good bit shorter, it was essentially a fine cup of coffee of the sort I haven’t traditionally associated with American bakery/cafés. After my experiences with Flour, I might have to raise my expectations! Next year I shall come back for the full coffee and cake experience.

314 SHAWMUT AVENUE • BOSTON • MA 02118 • USA +1 617 482 1015
Monday 06:30 – 20:00 Seating Tables, Padded Bench, Bar
Tuesday 06:30 – 20:00 Food Breakfast, Sandwiches, Cake
Wednesday 06:30 – 20:00 Service Order at Counter
Thursday 06:30 – 20:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Friday 06:30 – 20:00 Wifi No
Saturday 06:30 – 20:00 Power A few
Sunday 06:30 – 20:00 Mobile N/A
Chain No Visits 27th February 2013

Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Boston and Cambridge for more great Coffee Spots.

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4 thoughts on “South End Buttery

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