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Bread & Butter Bistro review

Bread & Butter Bistro's roasted French-cut chicken breast

Bread & Butter Bistro's roasted French-cut chicken breast is full of flavor. (May 11, 2013) Credit: Heather Walsh

It's 3 a.m. on a Saturday night, and you're nursing a powerful yen for a burger. If life has brought you to Exit 63 on the LIE, then you're in luck. Attached to the Ramada Plaza Long Island is a handsome pub that's open nearly round the clock on weekends.

At Bread & Butter Bistro, burgers are a night owl's dream. If only everything on chef Piers Stringer's menu were of the same caliber. A black cracked pepper-crusted smoked Gouda gratin-topped ground beef patty is a juicy, smoky knockout with ideal bun-to-burger ratio. Yet, fries sharing the plate are the humdrum, frozen variety. Unevenness seems the rule.

Most meals will start with a basket of house-baked bread; the thick slices are dry and can't be rescued by the accompanying bacon jalapeño and garlic herb butters. No problems with a bowl of chicken-vegetable soup loaded with colorful vegetables. Fine, too, is an apple-braised, pulled-pork taco. Mac and cheese -- three cheeses, actually -- has been cooked to a soft, bland paste. An unconventional bacon-topped Caesar salad is supposed to sport a soft poached egg, but that ingredient is missing. Still, it's an eminently likable salad.

The ingredient lacking in a grilled chicken pesto sandwich is verve. And vegetable-studded pasta with garlic and oil seems devoid of both garlic and oil; it's better after being sent back for seasoning and moisture. Another time, a teriyaki-glazed salmon fillet comes out seriously overcooked and is returned, too. A chef -- not Stringer -- brings its over-salty replacement, causing discomfort by remarking that the first one had been perfect. On the other hand, a grilled skirt steak is juicy and full of flavor, as is a roasted French-cut chicken breast.

To understand what Stringer is capable of, order dessert. Warm zeppole with house-made vanilla ice cream is worth dieting all week for. So, too, a fudgy, pure-tasting brownie sundae.

Given the restaurant's name, it seems a wake-up call is needed for a crew that pre-cuts, reheats and, therefore, undermines the bread that's baked fresh daily. And while late hours and a music scene may pull in a weekend crowd, it would take nothing more -- or less -- than TLC to make this a true bread and butter bistro.

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