Butter goes bold
In the hands of a new breed of chefs, bread’s faithful sidekick is stepping out of the shadows and into the limelight.
It’s an unassailable truth that butter makes everything better. Just ask any French chef. Or Julia Child. But modern restaurants are taking an exciting leap forward by taking butter to another level. From commonplace table condiment, butter is turning into a hero ingredient. Even when still hanging out in the company of bread, it can be used as a flag-waver: look no further than the seaweed butter at Shannon Bennett’s Iki-Jime (ikijime.com.au), a fishfocused Melbourne restaurant where the concoction is so ocean-rich, it’s almost like plankton. Neither does Momofuku Seiōbo (seiobo.momofuku.com) skimp on the good stuff. At David Chang’s Sydney restaurant, executive chef Paul Carmichael uses local brand Pepe Saya’s creamy, hand-churned cultured butter to take a humble piece of roti from street to star. And at Adelaide’s upmarket oceanfront fish and chip shop, SeaSalt (seasaltbysea.com.au), an Ortiz anchovy draped over a charry toast soldier is the must-order item. The element that elevates it? Salted egg yolk butter that adds richness and a delicious dash of complexity. Jock Zonfrillo also thinks outside the square at his Adelaide restaurant Orana (restaurantorana.com), with a scene-setting potato damper served on hot coals with a luscious lamb-fat butter bearing all the olfactory hallmarks of a good roast. More aromatic thrills with an Australian slant are to be found at Melbourne’s high-flying Attica (attica.com.au), where pearl meat in lemon-myrtle butter is delivered to the table encased in a paperbark bundle for diners to unwrap like it’s culinary Christmas. Best thing of all? “Eat it with your fingers,” advises chef Ben Shewry. “It’s better that way.”