Baked in Butler: Butler Cafe Pastries Are (Sort of) Delicious
Written by Bwog Staff
In an effort to be of continual service to the Columbia community—and to avoid our collective mound of work—Bwog brings you a series of narrative reviews for the questionably labeled baked goods available at your
favorite only Butler dining option: Butler Cafe.
(Daniel’s?) Swirled (Cheesecake?) Brownie
None of these 1970s Japanese studies are showing up on JSTOR and all that caffeine is giving me a headache, so it’s time to eat this weird swirled brownie. Purchased 2 hours ago, back when Butler Cafe was about to close, I’m not expecting much; it’s gotta be stale by now. I tear off the edge part of it and take a bite into the center side. Surprisingly, not bad. The chocolate is roundly flavored, kind of like something you’d make out of a box. This is comforting. It’s also not at all stale and actually pleasantly moist (sorry) with a smooth texture. I take a bite with the curious white layer – not sure what this is supposed to be: vanilla? blondie? cookie? It has an oddly gummy consistency – is this spread and baked marshmallow? I sniff at the curious white layer, but all I can smell is faded tobacco.
Too few bites later and it’s all gone. Back to trying to find those studies.
I approach the “delish” coffee cake suspiciously. A tentative poke reveals the surface to be almost bouncy in consistency. I am reminded of a moon bounce. The “confectioner’s sugar” at the top also most definitely does not have the consistency of actual sugar. The bag that the treat came in is really loud and everyone around me hates me a little right now. A few preparatory nibbles from the crust reveal a texture not unlike wet sand. But similar to the swirled brownie, the taste itself is not actually offensive — until you get to the aftertaste. Where did sour come from? The crust also takes about three times as long to chew as the cake itself, making for a rather dissonant eating experience. After a second bite, I realize that it almost has negative taste; a sub-zero of flavor. Until that damn after-taste. Still can’t place it.
After the third bite, it’s all horrible; sand, moon bounce, and all.
As a very unadventurous eater, I usually stick to the plain croissant when I have to buy food from the Butler Cafe. This week, however, I was feeling particularly brave. I branched out and tried…drum roll please…the almond croissant! I know – a giant leap. Expecting the consistency to be similar to its plain cousin’s, I took a huge bite without so much as looking at the pastry. I regretted this decision immediately. It was as if one hundred croissants had been smashed together until they achieved the density of a brick, and this tiny, moist, nucleus of croissant had then been dipped in almond extract. I stuck out my tongue, made a face, and earned a judging look from the guy sitting across from me. Setting the croissant down, I started back on my Chemistry problem set with a slightly wet, almond-y taste on my tongue. Two hours later, my stomach started audibly groaning and the offending croissant started to look awfully tasty. Over the course of the next hour, I came to the conclusion that the outer part of the croissant is actually delicious; it’s the inside that you have to avoid.
Although slowly tearing the top layer off a Butler almond croissant will make you look like a crazy person, the liberated exterior is crunchy and delicious.
“Chocolate Crumb Cake”…?
There was no sign, and I’m not really sure what the man said to me when I asked what it was called.
Unperturbed, I carried my nameless “treat” back to 210 and removed it from the pastry bag. The bottom cake portion is definitely chocolate, and it does appear to be a crumb cake. Or maybe a coffee cake. Is there a difference? The top of the cake has a layer resembling that of a standard coffee/crumb cake, but a couple of the “crumbs” are a slightly darker shade, which I take as a cautionary signal. There is also a sort of chocolate frosting drizzled on the top. Except there’s barely any of it, as if someone were frosting the dessert next to this one and accidentally dripped frosting on it a little.
I leaned forward and took a bite of my two-toned dessert. There was no false advertising here: it actually tasted like a chocolate coffee cake. Or a chocolate crumb cake. Whatever. Even more surprising was the fact that it was kind of good. The chocolate taste was a tad sour, but the cake tasted like cake, and the topping was crumbly in a satisfyingly sweet way. Three bites later I was overpowered by sweetness and forced to stop, so I calmly placed it back in it’s bag for later. It’s okay, little multicolored pastry. We’ve got a long night ahead of us.