Brunch at Butterhorn in Bismarck, North Dakota

Chef Stephanie Miller’s first childhood food memory is sitting on the kitchen counter, watching her grandmother make butterhorn rolls. Today the light and fluffy croissant-shaped dinner rolls are central to her restaurant, Butterhorn. You’ll find them served at brunch with cinnamon butter, seasonal jam, and vanilla frosting. At dinner, butter and salt accompany the butterhorns.

Location: Butterhorn, located at 210 East Main Avenue in downtown Bismarck, North Dakota.

Menu: The menu is a fresh interpretation of Midwestern cuisine with a French and Italian influence. For example, the Italian influence shows up in the Castelvetrano marinated olives and the Roman meatballs. The house-made ricotta and apricot mustarda accompany olives, served with a baguette. Pork and beef combine to make the Roman meatballs. San Marzano tomatoes, Parmesano Reggiano, and basil complete them. A toasted baguette is the perfect vehicle for serving them.

The Croque Madame highlights the French influence. Ham and Gruyere cheese sandwiched between two slices of thick house-made bread comes topped with a Gruyere béchamel. With a sunny side up egg, you have a satisfying brunch dish. A side salad of thinly sliced golden beets and ruffles of butter lettuce dressed with a slightly sweet vinaigrette rounds out the plate.  

You’ll find an emphasis on North Dakota proteins – beef, walleye, and bison. Everything except the soy sauce is made in-house, and the chef uses locally grown, fresh ingredients whenever possible.

Thoughts: The restaurant has an art deco design. Ornate crystal chandeliers decorate each side of the entrance. On the bar side, you’ll find a high-top table and chairs, while on the other side, you’ll find comfy leather chairs to enjoy a cocktail while you wait. The bar is made from a warm cherry wood, fully stocked to make creative brunch cocktails like the Juice, a blood orange vodka, fresh squeezed orange juice, and Blue Moon.

The walls are blue-gray with up-lit scones. Large framed mirrors reflect the light to create a bright and airy atmosphere. The light wood floors appear to be original hardwood — crown molding accents the white art deco-style ceiling tiles. Chef Miller’s childhood family photos decorate the walls above the tufted brown leather booths.

The everything from scratch philosophy makes all the difference. Some of my favorite dishes include:

  • The “Pop Tart.” The flavor changes often and is most frequently sweet. The day I had brunch; the “Pop Tart” was savory. The maple bacon “Pop Tart” was a light and flaky crust reminiscent of a strudel. Filled with a savory house-made bacon jam, then “frosted” with a slightly sweet maple topping and sprinkled with salty bits of crispy bacon crumbles, I never missed the fruit flavors.
  • The biscuits and gravy. Light and fluffy biscuits are at the base of this dish. They are cut in half and topped with an abundance of sausage gravy. The house-made sausage crumbles in this gravy are plentiful. Red chili flakes in the golden sauce add just a hint of spice. Then it’s all sprinkled with finely chopped chives for a pop of color.
  • The eggs Benedict. This dish starts with house-made English muffins. Then each muffin half comes layered with ham and is topped with a citrus hollandaise sauce; then a poached egg. Finally, the entire thing is once again covered in citrus hollandaise. Breakfast potatoes accompany the eggs.

I suggest reservations.

Price Range: The signature butterhorn rolls are three for $6 or five for $10. Brunch entrees range from $10 for the French toast sticks or the Twigs and Nuts to $14 for the duck confit hash or the eggs Benedict. Brunch drinks range from $6 to $9.

Disclosure: The Bismarck Convention and Visitor’s Bureau hosted the author.

Amy Piper

Amy Piper is a freelance food and travel writer. She writes about food and multi-generational travel on her blog Follow the Piper. You can follow her on Twitter @amythepiper.

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