I’m one of those lucky people who is surrounded by brilliant friends. Like, legitimately brainy, Ph.D.-holding, well-read friends with unique hobbies, wild stories and boundless ambition. I love spending time with these people. Simply being in their presence increases my I.Q. Even more, I love spending time with these friends in the company of breakfast foods.
Last weekend, I met Summer, a former grad-school colleague and one of these aforementioned friends, for breakfast at The Buttered Tin. This bustling bakery/cafe is just blocks from the St. Paul Farmer’s Market in Lowertown. I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about it, and Summer was equally excited about the prospect of eggs and confections.
After stocking up on Heirloom tomatoes and cukes at the Farmer’s Market, I arrived at the restaurant. The place is hoppin’. At 8:20 a.m. there was a 20-minute wait, and chances are, you can expect a wait no matter when you go. However, if you stop by the counter to order a coffee and pre-breakfast snack from the pastry case, you won’t even notice the minutes tick by.
The Buttered Tin has rotating daily specials, including a breakfast hot dish, a soft scramble and hash brown special. Each features a unique combo of ingredients and is infused with seasonal veggies. All the menu items looked like something I wanted to try, but I am a sucker for an egg sandwich, and when I saw it came on sourdough, my decision was made.
We waited for our food and ordered a “TwinKey,” The Buttered Tin’s version of – you guessed it – a Twinkie. Spongy and light, we agreed it would be easy to eat several. Summer caught me up on her family’s vacation antics, her daughters’ shared obsession with Katy Perry and the research project she’s pursuing in her Ph.D. program. Summer is one of those cool moms with effortless style and extraordinary intelligence who somehow makes the balance of marriage, parenthood and pursuit of a doctorate degree look breezy. I don’t get it.
Our food arrived, picturesque and with side salads. Thumbs up to my breakfast sammy. The thick slices of tomato and the shimmering sunny-side-up eggs stole the show. Obviously, we needed to cap the meal with another treat, and got another Hostess homage – the “Ho Ho” cupcake. The chocolate frosting was rich and not overly sweet. Definitely recommend trying one of their cupcakes.
And though I didn’t try it myself, the Milk Ball is one of the bakery’s signature items. Summer brought one home and later reported it tasted like raised donut batter but baked instead of fried, and the filling was, “milk chocolatey, perhaps slightly malty,” and was definitely worth a try if you find yourself in downtown St. Paul.
I see myself venturing to downtown St. Paul again soon. And hopefully venturing out with Summer to discover more breakfast gems.