“New Jersey Couple Heads Homey Biscuit Bistro”
The Buttered Biscuit Café – New Jersey
By Barbara Booras
With a name like The Buttered Biscuit Café, one could only assume that husband and wife owners, Liz and Dave McAllister, were experts on the subject. “I have to be honest,” Liz confessed, “I had never made a biscuit in my life.” Presumption swiftly dashed.
The Culinary Arts graduate had to test countless recipes before mastering the restaurant’s current interpretation, which she considers to be a hybrid between a southern biscuit and a Jersey biscuit. According to Liz, a biscuit from the south is usually “bigger and fluffier,” while the Jersey variety is “a little denser.” It took quite a bit of trial and error and the process was “crazy getting it just right.”
Prior to opening The Buttered Biscuit Café in Bradley Beach, New Jersey, the McAllister’s owned and operated The Honeysuckle Café. They loved their first undertaking, a seasonal, seaside eatery, but had their eyes set on a year-round venture.
Their current breakfast-centric concept was fueled by the couple’s shared love for the meal. Liz and Dave worked nights. Breakfast was what Liz wistfully recalled as, their “time together.” The two couldn’t find a great local spot that fit the bill; someplace welcoming, delicious and “really fresh,” Dave emphasized.
“At first, he wanted to do dinner and I wanted to do breakfast,” Liz shared.
“She won,” Dave chuckled. “Which turned out to be great, of course,” he added grinning.
As for the name, well, that simply popped into Dave’s head one day, and they both loved it. “I’ll make homemade biscuits. That will be our niche,” thought Liz.
“We’ll do homemade cinnamon honey butter too,” Dave added while brainstorming before the café’s opening.
In the spring of 2011, following a major makeover, the inviting twelve table restaurant finally opened up shop. The café has since expanded and can now accommodate 84 guests in two dining areas. In warmer weather, one can enjoy breakfast al fresco with a view of bustling main street Bradley Beach.
The couple, now married eight years, first met while working together at a local restaurant, Liz waiting tables and Dave managing the bar. Nowadays, Liz is managing the front of the house while Dave works behind the scenes in the kitchen.
Most of the menu consists of Dave’s creations, with the exception of Liz’s biscuit recipe. “He has a natural knack for it,” Liz shared about her husband, “and honestly I think he is more of a chef than I was or ever will be.”
The Buttered Biscuit Café serves up breakfast and lunch classics daily. The menu boasts specials like Dave’s Homemade Cornedbeef Hash ($7.99), Southern Style Biscuits and Gravy ($8.99), Lemon Zest Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast ($11.99) and a Homemade Meatloaf ($12.99) accompanied by addictive Gorgonzola Homefries.
Hand-selected ingredients, from-scratch cooking and ‘no junk’, make every dish at the Buttered Biscuit Café reminiscent of a taste of home. “We use a lot of organic [ingredients], buy local eggs, and have fresh produce coming in every day,” explains Dave.
While Bradley Beach swells with tourists in the summer, the restaurant remains consistently packed year-round. “We have a diverse clientele and I love that about this place,” the couple concurred. Regulars, visitors, and ladies who lunch fill the dining room day-in and day-out. And who can forget the lively young locals enjoying the Buttered Biscuit Café’s BYOB policy? “The [neighboring] liquor store’s very happy. Their champagne sales have gone up 1,000%,” Dave joked. The restaurant provides fresh squeezed juices and mixers for customers to concoct mimosas, bloody marys or Irish coffees.
The cozy spot started with just three employees “and we still have one of the three,” Dave exclaimed as he squeezed the shoulder of the seasoned veteran passing by. The couple credits the restaurant’s success to their talented team: “You can’t walk out the door without at least three people saying ‘thank you’ and ‘have a great day’ and we think that’s so incredibly important,” Dave said, singing the staff’s praises.
The touch of hospitality isn’t the only effort that matters at The Butter Biscuit Café, “the touch can make or break the biscuits,” Liz explains to kitchen staff she’s since trained on biscuit making. The key is “tender hands” and not over kneading the dough. “And they’re made with love,” Dave adds on. Liz’s signature biscuits are made from scratch, mixed by hand, served warm, and accompanied by her husband’s homemade honey cinnamon butter and strawberry preserves, just as they had originally planned.
These days, the McAllisters guesstimate they bake about 80,000 biscuits annually. “We had no idea what we had created here and that people were going to be so receptive,” said Liz. Now, the couple affectionately share their breakfast time together with the company of loyal customers bonding over biscuits in this much-loved, homespun New Jersey breakfast spot.
The Buttered Biscuit Café – Biscuit Recipe
By Liz McAllister
The Buttered Biscuit – Bradley Beach, NJ
Makes 12 Biscuits
3 cups (24 oz) all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
2 tablespoons (1 oz) baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups (1 lb) unsalted butter, cold and shredded
2 cups half and half
8 Eggs, 6 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks separated
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Sift all-purpose flour, baking powder, and kosher.
Add shredded butter into dry mix and combine by hand until butter is pea sized bits.
Combine half and half and eggs, whisk vigorously. Add to dry mix and combine with hands until wet dough forms. Transfer to floured surface and knead briefly.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll out to about 1/2” thick and cut with biscuit cutter.
Place on parchment lined sheet pan.
Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Tips: Remember to knead gently. “Tender hands” are the secret to these biscuits, according to Liz McAllister. Serve with cinnamon honey butter.