Butter Cafe and Bakery, 671 E. Bonita Ave. (at San Dimas Canyon), San Dimas; open daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Butter opened in July in the Bonita Canyon Gateway Center in San Dimas and quickly became a hit. I like to imagine that a few people have checked my Restaurant of the Week every week since and exclaimed in frustration regarding my choice, “I can’t believe it’s not Butter!”
Sorry, I had to say it. I’ve eaten at Butter five times so far and have enjoyed each visit to varying degrees, Butter being something the valley is perennially short on: smart, artisanal eateries.
The menu has baked goods, coffee, breakfast dishes, salads and sandwiches.
The display of baked goods — muffins, scones, croissants, cookies and more — is enticing.
On my first visit I had the prosciutto and gruyere croissant ($4), a good knife and fork item. I’ve also taken a cinnamon roll ($2.75) to go; it was icing-free and perhaps not yours, or my, idea of a cinnamon roll, but it was good anyway.
My first sit-down visit, I had a waffle ($6) with fruit ($2), in this case blueberries. Nice, but it took a frustrating 20 minutes to arrive.
Butter can get busy. At high noon on a Sunday, all the tables were filled and so were the two bars with bar stools and the comfy sofas. But I found a spot at the bar (I hesitate to say counter, as it’s just a shelf, not like a diner counter) and by 12:30 there were several open tables. Plan your visit accordingly. The interior is a little stark, but the wooden tables and benches add a natural touch.
That time I had the croque monsieur ($10) with a small salad. Very good. This was off the brunch menu, but it turns out you can order off the regular menu too.
I came in for an early dinner one night — remember, they close at 7 — and was the only customer, other than a couple of people who came in for to-go orders. Plenty of seating. I got the brisket sandwich ($11), one of Butter’s signature items, made with Harris Ranch beef. It didn’t wow me, although it was good enough; the beef’s denseness made it awkward to pick up and eat, and not easy to cut up with a knife and fork either. The fries were bland. I expected better.
On Tuesday I went in for lunch with a friend. I had the meatloaf sandwich ($10), very tasty. The tomato jam spread was a little sweet for my taste. The chips were housemade and no more interesting than the fries. Well, tater tots is the third option as a side. I’ll try them in the future. Why not a little salad or fruit?
Oh, and while my friend’s salad (below) arrived almost immediately, my sandwich took 15 awkward minutes and a worried inquiry from the staff about what I’d ordered. As that’s happened two times in five visits, maybe there’s an issue in the kitchen.
My friend had the Asian salad ($9), said it was good but wished the plum dressing were tangier. He could have added chicken for $3 and thought that would have been a good choice.
Butter seems to be establishing itself and I hope they continue to do well. I’m sorry the Fresh and Easy that anchors the center is closing, but Butter is building a clientele that should keep coming. I’m looking forward to more meals there myself.