Chef Michael White’s New Wisconsin-Style Restaurant

I’ll post the rest of the unofficial minutes from last night’s meeting of the CB1 Tribeca Committee in a minute, but first, a bombshell: Big-time chef Michael White (Marea, Ai Fiori, Osteria Morini) is planning to open a restaurant called The Butterfly at 225 W. Broadway. That’s the small, white building between White and Franklin—wedged between Café Clementine and Churrascaria Tribeca. I’d say that it’s where Barzinho was most recently—and before that, Rosario’s Kitchen (a slice joint), and a Korean restaurant whose name I don’t recall, J Marc—but I have a feeling that info won’t trigger much.

White is getting in touch with his Wisconsin roots: The menu [NOTE: Read the whole post before you email all your friends from Wisconsin] includes fried cheese curds (panko-breaded with sea salt, but still), chicken wings (Bell & Evans, but still), French Bread pizza (visions of my misspent youth…), a baked spinach-and-artichoke dip called the Crock Pot, House Made Sheboygan Style Brats, a fish fry, Norwegian meatballs…. Good news for those of you still smarting over the upcoming loss of Ivy’s Bistro: Prices are pretty reasonable, with entrées topping out at $25 for the stroganoff. (Stroganoff! It’s like my mom’s entire repertoire is coming back to haunt me. I should ask if she’ll part with her recipe for Porcupine Balls.) Click to enlarge the menus.

There will be 17 tables (seating 36), along with a 14-seat bar, as you can see from the floor plan. And a gas fireplace. And I’m guessing a lot of beer.

The members of the committee who know White’s restaurants were twitchy with excitement; everyone was concerned about the request for 4 a.m. closing seven days a week. White’s people said it should be allowed because the kitchen would be open till 3 a.m. on weekends (Fri.–Sat.) and 1 a.m. on weekdays (Sun.–Thurs.), and they claimed Tribeca needs late-night options beyond Tribeca Tavern. The committee was taking a straw poll over whether it would support 2 a.m. all week or 1 a.m./2 a.m., when White’s team announced that they’d take 1 a.m./2  a.m. if they could come back in a year and have 4 a.m. considered. The vote was 8–0.

UPDATE: I got an email from Altamarea’s PR person. The italicized comments are mine.

The story you posted is quite flawed. To begin, the menu you have is a very old edition and has been changed severely and abbreviated. [I look forward to posting a more up-to-date menu; in the meantime, we’ll have to make do with the one presented last night as part of the liquor-license application.] I would appreciate if you could remove it as it isn’t factual. Second, as far as theme, the Butterfly is a mid-century style cocktail bar with a supper club feel – NOT a Wisconsin restaurant. [Sorry, but in my opinion—and I’ve been to Wisconsin—as soon as a menu has Brats, fried cheese curds, and a fish fry, it’s a Wisconsin restaurant. If the menu no longer features those kinds of items, then perhaps a newer one should have been presented.] Please see more detail below. I hope you would alter your post. [Done.] I am happy to jump on the phone for a quick call if you are available.

Butterfly is by no means a “Wisconsin-themed” Supper club. [Note: Eater called it a supper club, not me.]

The Butterfly
• The Butterfly is an exciting new concept from the Altamarea Group slated to open in Summer 2012.
• Butterfly will feature a broad array of cocktails by Eben Freeman, AMG Head of Bar Operations & Innovation, complimented with a menu by Chef Michael White.
• Butterfly is a mid-century style cocktail bar with a supper club feel. Cocktails will include era appropriate classics and other innovative selections. [Interesting. It was presented to CB1 as much more of a restaurant than a bar. And when a committee member noted that the bar was substantial, an Altamarea rep said, “Well, lots of people eat at the bar these days.”]
• A limited food menu will compliment cocktails and will focus on traditional American classics, i.e. a great steak, burger, fried chicken.
• Weekday supper specials will include Prime Rib Dinners on Wednesdays and a Friday night Fish Fry.
• Butterfly is located at 225 West Broadway at Franklin Street in Tribeca. It will be open 7 days a week from 11:30am to 2:30am.
• There will be 55 seats as well as additional bar seats.
• Altamarea Group is delighted to join the Tribeca neighborhood and community and is looking forward to providing guests with innovative cocktails and American cuisine.

UPDATE #2: She insists that Butterfly will not be “Wisconsin-themed at all,” and that instead it’s a “supperclub with American classic cuisine.” The menu is a work in progress, and the one shown above is “as it stood when we applied to the community board.” She says she just doesn’t want people to expect the restaurant to be something it’s not. I think it’s fair to say that only Wisconsinites will be disappointed….



  1. Dear CB1: The majority of residents that live in Tribeca are concerned about ALL requests for 4 a.m. closing seven days a week. Tribeca doesn’t need more late-night options beyond Tribeca Tavern, we need our sleep. CB1 don’t let this neighborhood slowly turn into Meatpacking South (MeSo).

  2. The Korean restaurant was called J Marc if I remember correctly.

  3. I think the place sounds fabulous. And I think getting up in arms about the restaurant’s hours is silly. It’s Tribeca, not the East Village or LES. It will never draw the kinds of noisy, youthful crowds those neighborhoods deal with. I welcome a late-night dining option.

  4. Perfect, we need more late night venue and good places to hang.

  5. I am excited about a new place in the neighborhood but I am not impressed by the menu. Bummer.

  6. Yeah, let’s hangout until 4am! I need somewhere to wear my dress shoes with jeans.

  7. Wisconsinite is not a word #Sconnie

  8. Well much of this response is predicable: Change is bad! Go back to your discos you lousy jeans wearing wippersnappers!

    How can you possibly complain about one of NY’s most accomplished chefs opening a unique bar / restaurant concept in an abandoned restaurant on a street of bars and restaurants? The only business model that would satisfy the complainerati here is a silent, low priced, alcohol free, american style bistro, with no outdoor seating, that closes at 8:30pm and which caters to non-denim wearers. Just import a Macaroni Grill and deny it a liquor license and you’re home free.

    This is not Teppenberg bringing Lavo or Marquee downtown. This is Michael White, operator of some of the top restaurants in the City; and he wants to open a restaurant down the street. Let him.

  9. Yes. it’s (drum rooooolllll) Michael White! (dum, dum, DUM!!) Sounded like the only concern was for the 4am closing. I guess it’s no longer Triburbia. 4am for everyone!! The precedent has been set!! Go crazy!! I am ironing my jeans!!

  10. Well, it’s not Buster’s, so maybe it won’t draw that “noisy, youthful crowd”. And I guess it’s better than a closed storefront. But 4AM in an area that really doesn’t need it? I’d be a bit leery of a “changed menu concept” (having been through the Buster’s “changed menu” battle a few years back), as it could easily turn into a bar scene only.

    Does Wisconsin have a cuisine? Just joking, before anyone takes offense.

  11. As a wisconsinite-turned-tribecan, nothing says wisco more than Friday Fish Fry and cheese curds. Neither of which are a bad thing.

  12. This is such exciting news and will be a much needed addition to the neighborhood. As someone who lives particularly close to the location and who will be directly impacted by the “late night” possible noise, I say whole heartedly that I welcome it. I can say that my building and the other buildings on the block are all “sturdy” enough to withstand the sounds. Plus, those that are put off by noise should quite frankly move to New Jersey or Long Island and become suburbanites where their local restaurants all close by 9pm and the only noise you have to deal with is the rummaging of a raccoon in your garbage.

    Michael White is without a doubt one of the most accredited chefs in NYC and it will do nothing but benefit the neighborhood to have his restaurant or bar in it. We have enough moderately priced substandard food quality restaurants in Tribeca. How many can we have? They are virtually all the same. At least this new one will offer high quality food – whether its Wisconsin or mid-century themed – it will at least taste good.

  13. Woohoo – The Michael White (dum-dum-DUM!) PR team is on it!!! Again, the only concern was closing at 4am. 4am, seriously?

  14. Wait, do you think we didn’t notice that you brought up the phrase “porcupine balls”, and just left it, as it were, hanging?

    Your mother’s recipe for porcupine balls?

  15. @David: I wondered whether anyone would ask. My mom got a new hip yesterday, so I can’t ask for the recipe right now. They’re called porcupine balls because they’re meatballs with rice on the inside and outside, if I remember correctly. I’m not sure whether the rice is supposed to be semi-uncooked — to be more quill-like — or whether that was something extra my mom brought to the recipe. And they were in a tomato sauce. They were a childhood favorite, although the name is enough to send us all into fits of laughter.

  16. Best wishes to your mom, the New Hipster.

  17. @”Nancy”: Wow, you’re a Michael White groupie and you ALSO live right across the street. What are the odds? What a small world, heh? “Sturdy” buildings? I guess they don’t teach a course on acoustics and glass at PR school? I’d rather go to Geez Whiz Diner. Sorry, Michael White, you’ve lost me and every one of my book club members as potential customers or jeans/dress shoe wearers.

  18. The Butterfly is a Beloit, as In Michael White’s hometown, Wisconsin supper club for 50 plus years. Maybe the owner wants a royalty.

  19. @TC: Indeed it is! Thanks. I think that probably gets to the heart of the matter.

  20. Hey Buzz, we’ve already got a neighborhood crank on this site, his name is Jim Smithers and if you’re not careful you’re going to start owing him royalties for apeing his schtick. Lighten up, Francis, this is NYC and some of us stay up past the TBS re-runs of “Murder She Wrote.”

  21. Yikes, I didn’t mean to ape anyone’s schtick. My apologies to Mr. Smithers and his rabbi.

  22. As long as no one apes my schwantz….everything is good.
    Help us, CB1 Kenobi…you’re our only hope against Darth White and his Public Relation Droids.

  23. Michael White started as a chef at the Butterfly in Beloit Wisconsin.

  24. Not a fan of another “classic American” cuisine place. We have enough greasy “silver” spoon restaurants in the neighborhood. How about brininging a healthy option this way?

  25. Unhealthy food……..meat and fried everything. The neighborhood had a terrible experience with the Liquor Bar’s late hours – sounds like this will be another loud venue not needed in this family neighborhood.

  26. Smithers, you crack me up!