Butterjoint aims to satisfy patrons' quality meat, drink and food needs
One of Pittsburgh's best restaurants, by any measure, is Legume Bistro in Oakland. Chef Trevett Hooper, who runs Legume with his wife, Sarah, has always found room for improvement, ever since the restaurant began in a tiny storefront in Regent Square.
This time, that room for improvement was literally a room.
Legume's new Oakland location had a small barroom adjacent to the dining room. Its size didn't seem to be an impediment — diners automatically started congregating there while waiting for tables, even if only for a minute or two. With some imagination, a new menu, and a little construction, came Butterjoint.
Butterjoint, named for a type of brickwork masonry, treads lightly on the senses with dim lighting and a classic palette of dark wood and leather. It's cozy and familiar, yet still a bit classier than expected, with a refreshing lack of blaring televisions and excess sports memorabilia.
There's an appropriately smart-looking list of beers and cocktails. But the point of Butterjoint is really the food. It was a way to build on Legume's strengths in the kitchen, and make a play for more-frequent repeat business.
“We just have so many core, loyal customers, who we wanted to see more often,” Hooper says. “A lot of people might come once a month, or once a season, or once a year. We wanted something more casual — people could just drop by — but get the same care, experience, quality meats and foods that we're doing at Legume. There's really no compromise in terms of food. It's just really a lot simpler.”
Hooper is a big proponent of whole-animal cooking — using as much of the animal as possible — and local meats in particular.
“Since October, 100 percent of the pork and beef and lamb we've served (at Legume) — almost everything, save some antelope that we served on New Year's Eve — has been from Western PA,” Hooper says. “In order to meet our goals to serve nothing but local animals, we needed to sell a lot of hamburgers, sausages and ground meats. That's why the menu for the Butterjoint is the way it is. It's helping Legume be a better restaurant. It's helping us take our commitment to local foods further.”
There are homemade potato and farmer's cheese pierogies ($7), to which one can add house-made sausage for $5 more, and/or sauerkraut for $1 more. There's an entire section on the menu for “Things Fried in Tallow,” like French Fries with Aioli ($4), Sauerkraut Balls with Honey-mustard Mayo ($4), and Daikon Pickles with Miso Dip ($4).
“Most of the time, we render our own beef tallow from beef suet,” Hooper says. “Certain times a year, there's a shortage, but 48 weeks a year, we have plenty of beef tallow. It's delicious. But for me, it's more that it's easier to digest, and more nutrient-rich than canola oil. Whenever I eat stuff fried in vegetable oil, my face breaks out and I get the sweats.”
There's also a section called “Pickles ‘N Stuff,” featuring a Sour Cucumber Pickle ($2), Hakurei Turnip Pickle ($2), Vinegar Green Tomato Pickle, and even the Korean dish Young Bok Choy Kimchi ($2). The Pickle Platter sampler is $8.
“We do all kinds of preserving vegetables throughout the year,” Hooper says. “A lot of lacto-fermentation, and traditional vinegar-style pickles. Just today, we stated working on miso pickles. We're trying to pickle some eggs in miso that we made, which has been aging since July.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Happ’s strong start, Ramirez’s homer pace Pirates past Rockies
- Pitt star running back Conner remains grounded despite success
- Big plays cost Steelers defense in 43-19 preseason loss at Bills
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin mum on Bryant suspension
- Rossi: Beleaguered Steelers need MVP from Big Ben
- College football preview: ACC
- Unlike during his time at Florida, Ohio State’s Meyer learning to enjoy his success
- Biertempfel: Pittsburgh native faced quick learning curve as Marlins GM
- Architecture: Pittsburgh history in 10 houses
- Pitt’s cancer institute marks 30 years with eye toward future
- Pennsylvania welfare employees targeted in crackdown