Sugar Rush: Butterscotch Bread Pudding at Eastern Standard, Boston
Full disclosure: I used to work the line at one of Eastern Standard's sister restaurants. Once, at the end of a long dinner service, a serving of Butterscotch Bread Pudding from ES appeared in our kitchen. I didn't know how or why, but I didn't question it. At that time of night, it was an absolute delight to eat something (anything!) that I hadn't spent the last ten hours cooking for other people. And that bread pudding tasted like a dream.
I know I come to this dessert with some bias, but there's a reason that the Butterscotch Bread Pudding ($8) has kept a spot on the dessert menu since the restaurant opened.
Making it is a three-day process. Brioche bread is cubed and staled, then left to soak in a velvety custard ribboned with the namesake butterscotch chips. Before baking, the pastry chefs give the pudding a flip. It's a simple trick, but it means that the brioche soaks up every single drop of custard. The dessert turns out incredibly dense and consistent, without any dry or soggy areas. Each portion is served warm, topped with a scoop of praline ice cream and caramel sauce—both of which are made in-house. The caramel is salty, and the praline ice cream has toasty notes of almond and hazelnut big enough to rein in the sweetness of the butterscotch. It's a delicate balancing act, but one that Eastern Standard pulls off flawlessly. On the line or in the dining room, this is an excellent rendition of a classic that's entirely deserving of its cult following.
Eastern Standard Kitchen and Drinks
About the author: Kate Shannon is a cheesemonger and former line cook. Although she calls Boston home, she hasn't lost her love for the fried cheese curds and Chicago-style hotdogs of the Midwest. She believes that leftover Thai takeout makes the best lunches and that strawberry shortcake is meant to be breakfast, not dessert.