Here, butter is not just an ingredient or an accent. Butter is the centerpiece.
Bella La Crema, 405 Main St. in Lyons, is quite possibly the world’s first “butter bar.” That means what it sounds like: This shop specializes in artisan butter.
Not just a regular block of unsalted like you’d find at the grocery store, though. Bella La Crema takes butter to new levels, with a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu featuring as many as 20 different kinds of artisanal butter. You will find various freshly churned flavors and seasonal specialties, like Lemon Fennel Delight or Sunrise Saffron Shine (turmeric, cinnamon, lemon, honey and saffron).
“I never realized how many butter fans there are in the world until I opened this place,” says Shauna Lee Strecker, founder.
Try a sample of flavors with a flight of butter: a selection of four two sweet, two savory) butters with a half of a warm baguette. You can also ask about free butter tastings.
Or try a dash of butter in a buttered coffee (hello, keto).
“Pour hot buttered coffees are hugely popular, with Mayan Chocolate Muse and Hollidays Bourbon leading the way in top choices,” Strecker says.
This butter is hand-packed and made in small batches. It’s made with organic cream from grass-fed cows. Flavors come from stone-ground spices (nothing artificial).
If you find a style you want to take home (to incorporate into a dish or special occasion, or heck, to eat plain, we don’t judge), you can buy butter in the butter bar’s market.
The food menu changes daily, but highlights may include options like a rosemary-sage grilled cheese with tomato soup, a charcuterie plate, French toast with housemade puffed cream, an herb egg scramble inside a croissant or French onion soup served with bread and butter. For dessert, Bella La Crema makes its own ice cream based off its butters. Naturally, waffles and pastries lend themselves to butter, too.
The shop also has a liquor license, so you can indulge in a butter-slathered snack and a glass of wine or beer. In warmer weather, grab a seat outside.
Bella makes both sweet and savory butters.
On the sweet side, there’s the likes of Monet’s Garden (with rose, vanilla, lavender and nutmeg); the Mayan Chocolate Muse (chocolate, coffee, cinnamon and cayenne); and the Song of India (cardamom, cinnamon, anise, honey and orange).
The Hollidays Bourbon (molasses, maple, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla, bourbon and orange) is a top option to add to your coffee.
Savory flavors include a top-seller, Rosemary’s Sage (rosemary, garlic, sea salt and sage); the French Countryside (rosemary, herbes-de-provence, garlic and thyme); and Ode To Neruda (paprika, garlic, onions, lime). Evening Capers (capers, garlic, tarragon and lemon) is recommended to add to eggs, fish, chicken or noodles.
Bella also sells cultured, organic, grass-fed buttermilk (plain and flavored). Soon, it’s planning on adding CBD butter to the menu.
The idea to make butter started early for Strecker. She says she first churned butter by hand at age 5.
“Its memory still evokes a feeling of comfort and carries with it a most vivid sense of poetic flavor,” she writes.
She ended up buying a cow share in 2012, after she had some health issues and began examining her diet and lifestyle more closely. She began making butter from raw cow’s milk and it was a game changer. She says the healthy bacteria, antioxidants, fat-soluble vitamins and other characteristics helped her health.
Bella’s butter is “cultured,” which means they let the bacteria ferment in the sugars in cream before churning. This is the old-school way of making butter, before pasteurization and refrigeration. It’s also a slower process. Cultured butter takes up to two days to make.
Bella La Crema promotes the benefits of healthy fat found in its butter; the cream from grass-fed cows is healthier than grain-fed cows, the shop says. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K2. Strecker says throwing a little butter in your coffee or tea and improve your brain health, energy and more.
Even if you can’t make it into the shop, Bella will soon offer online ordering.