Great pancakes, no clowns
Bacon & Butter
Sacramento, CA 95820
Good for: high quality, hearty breakfast and brunch fare
Notable dishes: thick buttermilk flapjacks, grilled cheese benedict
There must be a pent-up need for breakfast in Sacramento. Despite several area favorites for pancakes and eggs, Bacon & Butter has been drawing the masses to its new location in Tahoe Park.
Originally launched in 2012 in a shared space with Midtown BarFly, Bacon & Butter moved to its new location on Broadway in the Tahoe Park neighborhood in late 2014. Now it boasts a brighter and massively larger space, one in which the staff doesn’t have to contend with surprises from the bar crowd left over from the night before.
Owner/chef Billy Zoellin, previously of Golden Bear, has put a lot of thought into this new version of the restaurant. The interior is like a diner, but updated. Sleek subway tiles and metal surfaces balance huge wooden ceiling beams and communal tables.
The food is even more noteworthy. For Sacramentans used to subpar pancakes with a side of clowns, Zoellin’s version of breakfast is a revelation. If you’re wondering how much can be done with bacon, eggs and toast, pull up a chair and prepare to be schooled.
It’s not just that the pancakes (“flapjacks” here) are thicker or the eggs fresher; Zoellin excels at the details that make the food stand out.
The flapjacks are served as enormous disks with a buttermilk tang, topped with diced apples and pure maple syrup. In his take on the benedict, poached eggs top four cheeses grilled on buttery challah bread, with thick-cut Beeler’s bacon and silky hollandaise sauce.
Diners don’t get regular old hashed potatoes with eggs; instead they’re crisply fried with shreds of citrus-braised pork butt and roasted Brussels sprouts, then topped off with toasted wild rice and balanced with the bitterness of frissée salad.
Forget limp French toast. Instead, tuck into thick rectangles of challah bread griddled on four sides and teepeed with roasted banana halves, vanilla custard and a lake of rum caramel agrave; la bananas foster. The garnish of housemade oatmeal granola adds the perfect amount of crunch to the situation.
Since they’re open till 3 p.m. daily (except Monday), diners might want to try the burger. No, really. Sacramento chefs make some impressive burgers these days, and Zoellin’s ranks high.
He starts with Storm Hill beef ground with bacon (of course) and tops it with a sunny-side-up egg, melting brie cheese, more bacon, an intriguing smoked aioli and arugula. It’s juicy and rich, but not greasy. Order the smashed fries on the side. They’re made of fingerling potatoes cooked with flavorings, then smashed and deep-fried. They have the perfect balance of creamy interior and super crunchy edges.
Then there’s the biscuit sandwich. At the heart of it all is a buttery, flaky biscuit. It isn’t dense or doughy like some Northerners accept, and it’s filled with more of that toothsome bacon, a scrambled egg, caramelized onions and chive mascarpone oozing around the edges. A skirt of griddled cheddar is a nice nod to Squeeze Inn fans and lends some crunch to the yielding tower of ingredients.
There’s more: Check the daily chalkboard list of baked goods for things like scones, cinnamon rolls and cookies. Recently, the bacon-apple fritters were well cooked but sadly short on the ubiquitous bacon.
The local coffee on tap is from Old Soul, and there’s Capay Valley apple juice on offer.
While diners might not be looking for a beer with their bacon, the restaurant does have a liquor license and a nicely edited collection of microbrews (plus PBR in cans), wine and champagne for mimosas.
If I have any quibble at all with Bacon & Butter, it’s a small one. Since the lines to get in are long even when they first open, coffee service for customers outside would be a bonus. With or without caffeine, though, the wait is well worth it once you win a seat and join the thrum of happy eaters.