Ever since Chef Marcie Turney & Valerie Safran opened up their latest venture on 13th Street, I knew I had to stop by Bud & Marilyn's. I don't know why it's taken me this long, but I finally made it and I'm here to stay.
During Happy Hour, the ambiance is relaxed, yet bustling. There are plenty of seats at the handsome vintage bar, as well as smaller 2-tops by the bar. We were lucky enough to snag one of these tables so indulged in a few of the Happy Hour offerings, on top of some of the dishes from the regular menu.
Rhubarb Basil Smash [$6 Happy Hour | $10 Regular Menu]
Tequila, rhubarb liqueur, grapefruit, basil syrup
The Rhubarb Basil smash is a slushy on steroids. Saccharine with a nice herbaceousness from the basil and a tartness from the rhubarb liqueur and grapefruit, this will start your night off right. One's probably enough or else you'll go into a diabetic coma, but not going to lie, I ultimately indulged in a second.
Cannonball! [$6 Happy Hour]
Blanco tequila, lime juice, orange, "Electric blue"
The cocktail of the day came in the form of the Cannonball, which was electric blue! Basically Bud & Marilyn's take on a margarita, it was strong and boozy. Our server David knew I enjoyed the basil smash a lot better though, so brought me another one of those instead. Clairvoyant, I tell ya.
Nashville Hotbun [$3.50 Happy Hour | $10 for 2 Regular Menu]
Hot fried chicken, little pickles, ranch, pickle brine slaw
Bud & Marilyn's standardly has a trio of buns available on the menu. For Happy Hour, they offered the Nashville hot bun, which was stellar. So much so that I had to get another one of these bad boys and was itching for a third. A buttery and crusty bun house crispy chicken. The chicken had a nice cayenne kick that wasn't exactly on a spice level that would make the Fat Ham sweat, but it was just right for the GF. The vinegary slaw and pickles made each bite, offering some acid and respite from the chicken. Get these!
Crispy Cheese Curds [$5 Happy Hour | $8 Regular Menu]
Wisconsin cheddar, smoked guajillo chile salsa, burnt scallion ranch
You know I won't be denied fried cheese curds, and these are some of the best I've had. Lighter and airier than the Cow and the Curd's take, I enjoyed the glassiness of the crisp batter. The accompanying burnt scallion ranch and smoked guajillo chile offered contrasts for your dipping pleasure. An obvious must order.
Pan Seared Pierogis [$6 Happy Hour | $9 Regular Menu]
Shallot, brown butter, apple-celery root salad, horseradish creme fraiche
Well-seared and crisp, the brown butter came through and the creamy potato innards were hearty. The celery root salad offered some freshness and while I enjoyed the creme fraiche, it would have used a bit more horseradish.
Shaved pork belly, Korean chili, papaya slaw, peanuts
From the regular menu, I had to get the pork belly buns. I prefer my pork belly to be thick, unctuous and fatty. Here we're talking about crisp, shaved pork belly housed within buttery buns. The papaya and Korean chili slaw had a nice fermented funk and acidity that I enjoyed.
Chop Suey [$12]
Country ham fried rice, carrot, broccolini, English pea, fried farm egg, pork belly, kohlrabi, cabbage
That same crisp pork belly made its way into the chop suey, which was essentially Korean bibimbap fried rice. I loved the acidity from the lime, which offered some balance to the hearty heft of the rice, pork, and fried egg. A healthy portion for only $12!
Fava & corn succotash, pancetta, Castle Valley corn cakes, smoked orange dressing
Bud & Marilyn's had a stunner of a scallop dish as well. Well-seared and seasoned, the huge scallops were supported by the additional sweetness from the corn succotash and grit corn cakes. The salty savoriness from the pancetta was appreciated in its effort to prevent the dish from becoming overly sweet.
Peanut Butter Maltball Cake [$9]
Dark chocolate cake, peanut butter buttercream, crispy pearls
Despite being stuffed, I knew I couldn't leave without having tried one of the cakes I've heard so much about. The peanut butter maltball cake was gorgeous to look at and even better to eat. Creamy, chocolatey, and moist, the cake had a nice contrast in texture from the shattered malt pearls.
Service at Bud & Marilyn's is top notch, personable, and efficient. And without a doubt, the food here will leave you wanting more. Considering the 80's theme, I was concerned that Bud & Marilyn's might go the way of Kevin Sbraga's now defunct Juniper Commons. Clearly, there's no reason it should.