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Jun 16, 2008 01:49 PM

South End Buttery

I haven't visited the Buttery in over a year and thought I would stop in today to see the changes. Looks great, nice cases full of baked goods and prepared foods. I stood behind the only other person in the store to wait to place my order to one of the 3 people behind the counter. 3 other people quickly came in, one of which got their order taken immediately. As I was about to get ignored again, another customer quickly pointed out that I had been there before anyone and should get to order first. I placed my order, not caring too much about getting skipped. I asked how they managed to luckily be with power during a massive power outage. Instead of a reply, I received a blank stare. Now, I remember why I haven't been in a year! Rude service and huge, unremarkable muffins. Coffee's good, though.

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  1. Oh boy, you should try the weekends for some real fun and games.

    1. Wow! That is too bad to hear. While I've only been a few times for my previous job, the owner, Richard, was very nice and counter help was fine (perhaps because he was there at the time). Geesh, if he's in there anytime you go (if you happen to notice or hear anyone say "Richard"), I'd mention it as he'd probably like to know if his staff is being rude. I would hope he's not striving for a place w/ rude help. I didn't get the impression he'd go for that.

      1. I don't think getting skipped is a reason to dismiss the place...much more interested in the food.

        2 Replies
        1. re: observor

          While getting skipped isn't a reason to dismiss a place, continual bad service is, and from what Pang has written, it seems like he/she has had bad service and unremarkable food before, though he/she says the coffee is good. Unless the place is supposed to be snobby (I don't really get that concept, but I guess some places do it), a customer should expect to get good customer service. Why spend one's hard earned money to be treated rudely. Based on my experience there, I would doubt the owner wants a customer to be feeling slighted or to feel that his/her staff is rude, but maybe I'm wrong. I can also say that I've been to places that have amazing food, but service is downright rude or inept. I won't return when it happens more than once. For me, going out is a treat to myself, and if I'm going to treat myself, I will not waste my time or energy going to a place that could care less about the customer.

          1. re: BackBayGirl

            i'm with you bbgirl - tons of places to go - it feels nice to spend money not only for good chow but for people who are happy to have your business.

        2. Excellent coffee, very good if expensive sandwiches, pretty okay if expensive pastries, typical harried counter service, no worse than the average Starbucks, from what I can tell. I'm not a regular enough customer to get the kind of special treatment that every outfit gives to its regulars (though allowing regulars to bump a well-ordered queue -- something I've never witnessed there -- is a bad way to do it). The place is popular and the kitchen is not fast, so I tend to avoid it on weekends when there's always a scrum there. I'm curious to see what the full-service restaurant ultimately looks like.

          1. Seems the South End is full of such places...long on snobbishness and short on value. It seems people go to these places because they think they are supposed to like them. I wouldn't go to such places. But the OP spent half of the post saying how he/she (perhaps accidentally) got skipped over instead of detailing more about the quality of the food. Still, some people don't care about the cost, which is a primary point for me.

            I was amazed to go to the Butcher Shop with its exorbitant prices and find a radio blaring, uncomfortable stools, and too-casual service. Why? I'm sure such quality meats could be gotten at a less expensive place without the crap.

            7 Replies
            1. re: observor

              Really? The South End full of such places? I'm hard-pressed to think of a place where I've ever gotten snobbish or off-putting service. I've had less than salutary service experiences fairly recently at Sibling Rivalry, The Beehive, the Red Fez, Banq, Rocca, and Code 10, but it was about incompetence, not attitude. I guess I could cite Picco as having FOH employees that seem less than hospitable, but that's one out of many.

              The patrons themselves are a different story. I see a lot of folks dining out in the South End these days that strike me as rather self-impressed for reasons I can't quite identify.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Yeah, I think the issue is really more about the decline in customer service in general and less about a specific area. The South End is no better or worse than any other area in Boston, imo.
                And my issues with the South End Buttery have nothing to do with snobbery and everything to do about overpriced coffee/baked goods/sandwiches and somewhat slow service (esp when you go for your morning coffee --and MC is right, Sat or Sun is even worse.)
                I get that their rent is probably astronomical so their prices follow suit, but doesn't mean I need to patronize them. I'd rather hit DD for an ice coffee and suck down a somewhat bland bagel.

                1. re: twentyoystahs

                  Maybe I'm shooting myself in the foot here, but I've had some great weekends recently by giving the Buttery a miss, walking right past the mess that is Flour at the weekend and getting coffee and pastries at Aroa, which is about a block further along Washington towards Mass Ave. It's been almost empty in there, with free tables vs. the fight for a communal table covered in newspapers and used cups at Flour.
                  As for the pastries - haven't sampled too much, but the macaroon was great, the buttermilk scone was just ok, my wife said the mini croissant was great and the couple of chocolates I've tried were delicious. Coffee was good and the service incredibly nice.
                  Everything is made in house at what looks like a beautiful kitchen behind glass behind the counter. I worry that it's not very busy when I've been there, but I think people will catch on. Not cheap, but no different from other places in the neighbourhood, and a lot of pastries come on the small side (like the mini croissant) for $1.25 or something, so if you're just looking for a bit of something sweet to go with your coffee it works well.

                  1. re: jonship

                    Good to know about Aroa; I haven't been yet, and had incorrectly assumed it was just a chocolatier.

                2. re: MC Slim JB

                  Incompetence in service smacks of snobbishness in that they don't feel the need to adeuqately train and monitor their waitstaff because the food is "so good" or the atmosphere so unique people will go there inevitably. I don't know, I haven't eaten in the South End that much, but that is my impression. I mean, exorbitant prices and poor service to me smacks of uncaring elitism...

                  1. re: observor

                    'exorbitant prices and poor service' - does this refer to the South End generally or just the Buttery? I don't think that service in the South End is generally poorer than than the rest of the city.

                    1. re: jonship

                      Service at many high-priced restaurants is not as it should be.