By Judy Garrison
If you haven’t already enjoyed a snack, a meal, a coffee or an ice cream at Buttercup, Andes’ new café behind The Tin Horn, on the site of the former Slow Down Café—get yourself over there! You’ll be purring in contentment. (Couldn’t resist the feline reference: Buttercup is named for the owners’ beloved rescued cat.) Victoria Charkut and Peter Mullin, full time Bovinians now, after 15 years as part timers, are giving a full-steam-ahead, enthusiastic thrust to this new venture. Viki, a passionate and accomplished home cook, who enjoys putting out an authentic Mexican meal or recreating some of her grandmother’s Czech recipes, will be doing some of the cooking. Peter, who worked in finance and technology in New York City, and Viki, with an extensive theater, acting and writing background, happily dug in together for the hard work of sprucing up, designing and setting up the space, sign production, and generally organizing and implementing the innumerable tasks required to be ready for a soft opening on July 4th.
The eclectic and ever-changing seasonal specialties are prepared by their chef, Christopher McGee, using produce picked fresh from Viki and Peter’s garden or from farmers’ markets. “The kale salad with hazelnuts and parmesan cheese from Little Italy flies out the door,” says Viki.
Chris, originally from Kansas City, mastered the art of barbecue there. He cooked for a couple of years in Alaska and worked for 9 years under leading chefs in Manhattan. According to Viki, he was part of the opening team for Blue Hill, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s 66, and Vynl, and turned out beautiful food at Pastis. He has been smoking corned beef, salmon, and, most recently, a whole turkey for Buttercup. He makes his own chutney and chicken liver mousse.
On opening day I took out a meaty short rib barbecue perfectly paired with a red, white and blue salad (watermelon, feta cheese and blueberries in a delicious minty dressing)—an ideal combination of spicy hot and refreshing. Not to forget the grilled corn on the cob smothered in Harpersfield jalapeno cheese and lime juice. A cold borscht—one of the soups that change daily—was just right on that steaming hot July day. Dessert was a fresh strawberry shortcake. All in all, it was a menu that I’d characterize as down home and in the spirit of the 4th, but cranked way up in quality, complexity and interest.
The sandwiches have garnered rave reviews from patrons and include a Vietnamese bham mi; they offer a charcuterie plate, sides such as summer roasted vegetables, Asian slaw, and herbed potato salad. Any menu item can be taken out. You may also buy smoked ham and local cheeses by the pound from their retail counter.
Buttercup baker, Tricia Wancko, is turning out fabulous cookies, brownies, cheddar scones, banana bread, and that aforementioned shortbread.
The current schedule is: Thursday and Friday: 11-4 (takeaway and later hours on Friday coming soon); Saturday and Sunday: 10-4 (that means breakfast is served on those weekend days).
Saturday night dinners are expected to start up in early August. Reservations are suggested as folks are already asking to be included in the first dinner.
To sum up: the food is the best, the atmosphere relaxed. You can stop in for a Jane’s ice cream or a coffee, eat breakfast or lunch either inside or outside, take out a salad, sandwich, or dinner for the family. Andes is more than fortunate to have yet another wonderful eatery in our midst, one with savvy food sensibilities in great abundance. Welcome Buttercup!~