What to order at Buttermilk & Bourbon

What to order at Buttermilk & Bourbon

Restaurants

Here’s how a homegrown celebrity chef does Southern comfort food.

Buttermilk & Bourbon biscuits

Jason Santos hails from the suburbs north of Boston and has filmed culinary TV shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Bar Rescue” all over the U.S. But the celebrity chef had never visited New Orleans until fairly recently—and then he couldn’t stop thinking about it. “I just fell in love with the food, the people, everything,” says Santos. A charming, subterranean restaurant space that became available in an old building on Commonwealth Avenue reminded him of the city’s vibe and ultimately inspired his now-booming Buttermilk & Bourbon.


  • Chef Jason Santos has a new cookbook ‘strictly for the home cook’

Santos, known for fusion flair over more than a decade in Boston kitchens, is not shooting for traditional Southern cooking. “When I was opening this restaurant, I knew it needed to be either awesome or I’m kind of gonna get run out of town doing this,” he says. So he set about achieving ultimate versions of crowd-pleasing Southern dishes—biscuits, mac and cheese, ribs—that could carry local ingredients and his own flavors and ideas. 

An inspired homage to New Orleans from the Melrose kid? “It just crushes it,” Santos says. Buttermilk & Bourbon debuted in 2017 and added a new-build location in Watertown at Arsenal Yards four years later. The chef cites multimillion dollar annual sales figures for both venues. In summer 2024, he’ll open ButterBird at Arsenal Yards, a sandwich-centric quick-service spot focused on breakfast and lunch. The chef credits the success to simple, delicious cooking. “It’s a blue-collar, awesome, good-valued meal,” Santos says. 

If he was dining in at Buttermilk & Bourbon, here’s how the chef would do it.

house special buttermilk fried chicken at Buttermilk & Bourbon
The house special buttermilk fried chicken is a must-order at Buttermilk & Bourbon.

Dinner

Warm Honey-Glazed Biscuits 

“This is basically the house that biscuits built,” Santos says. A crispy-fluffy signature served with smoked cinnamon butter and pimento cheese spread, warm honey-glazed biscuits go out to seemingly every table. The chef himself spent months developing the recipe, which is included in his first cookbook and is a simple mix of self-rising flour, buttermilk and butter. “It’s 99% the technique and 1% the ingredients,” Santos says. The true secret? “The amount of fat is absurd, so that’s what makes them super crispy when they bake.”

Mustard Glazed Baby Back Ribs

A one-time summer special has become a menu staple with various accompaniments depending on the season. Pork ribs are rubbed in spices and cooked ahead of time then grilled and glazed to order. The composed plate always features a bright bite to lighten the dish, like roasted tomato relish or pickled veggies and the boiled-peanut chili crisp (currently the Watertown set). “I try to keep some similarities, but I still want each restaurant to be a little bit different so you could go to both and have a different experience,” Santos says.

House Special – Buttermilk Fried Chicken 

One thing that hasn’t changed at Buttermilk & Bourbon since Santos landed on the recipe is the house special buttermilk fried chicken. Key to the crunchy crust is a blend of masa and wheat flour, which also contributes “a very nutty flavor,” Santos explains. Spices enhance the base seasoning, and the menu offers options of Nashville hot, sweet & spicy, BBQ syrup, or white BBQ sauce. “I love all the flavors, but if I were to pick I would go Nashville hot with a side of white BBQ,” Santos says.

Dessert

Beignets

“Beignets are such an important part of New Orleans food history that we had to make sure to pay proper homage to them,” Santos says. This version is light yet crunchy and oh-so-buttery and served with spreadable vanilla mascarpone and optional chocolate sauce for dipping.

Drink

Hurricane

Before visiting New Orleans, Santos was excited to try the infamous Hurricane cocktail, “but I just found it to be cloyingly sweet.” To reimagine what tasted “exceptionally processed,” to the chef, Buttermilk & Bourbon’s version of the rum punch uses fresh passion fruit and pineapple juices. “Liquid nitrogen obviously doesn’t add any flavor,” Santos says of the finishing touch, “but gives that kind of ‘wow’ factor.”

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