Devour syrup-drenched buttercakes at Fortitude Valley’s slick new cafe Buttery Boy

Forget eggs Benny – pancakes are the true backbone of breakfast. It’s a big call, we know, but have you seen the buttercakes being served at Fortitude Valley newcomer, Buttery Boy? These fluffy beauties are currently the talk of the town, with the Chinatown Mall-based cafe looking to add a bit of daytime action to the oft-overlooked strip. In addition to buttercakes coated in maple butter and toasted marshmallow, Buttery Boy is also serving fried-chicken burgers, caffeine from Coffee Supreme and, soon, folded pizza sandwiches.
Apr 26, 2024, updated Apr 26, 2024

When Vince Mōefa’auo sold his heralded Brookes Street brunch spot Halo Ground to new owners, he did so knowing it wouldn’t be long before he got back into the cafe game.

The former fine-dining chef signed on to take over one of the empty tenancies at the base of the newly built commercial tower at 31 Duncan Street at the beginning of 2023, with a vision toward opening a crisp new 150-seater joint that looked out to Chinatown Mall. But when other potential retailers pulled out of the neighbouring 75-m-fronted space, Vince’s plans quickly changed.

“We said we’d take it all,” says Vince, recalling the moment he ambitiously volunteered to open Mr Duncan’s, an almost-300-seat mega venue boasting five individual kitchens – each serving a different cuisine. As soon as Mr Duncan’s was announced, foodies immediately pegged it as one of the most anticipated openings of 2024. But what about the cafe? Understandably, with a lot more to prepare for, Vince’s initial plans had to change – but not by much.

Buttery Boy officially opened this week, with Vince lifting the curtain on a modern 30-ish-seat cafe space facing the T.C. Beirne Building opposite. The cafe’s fit-out, shaped by Blackbox Design Co., boasts a minimalist palette of colours and materials, from the sturdy white-marble-topped coffee counter to the cushioned timber banquettes. A strip of black picnic tables outside will soon be shaded by umbrellas, while an automatic curtain is being installed on the tall glass windows to shield the inside when the sun’s rays beam through too strongly.

Although smaller than first mapped, the central idea at the heart of the concept – Buttery Boy’s signature menu item – remained core to the endeavour.

“The idea was always to do pancakes, but what kind of pancakes is what we needed to decide on,” says Vince, whose Japanese-style souffle pancakes were one of Halo Ground’s best sellers. “We didn’t want to do souffles – souffle-style pancakes have already been done. We wanted to dump what we learned and go back and challenge ourselves and come up with new ideas.”

After a bit of RnD Vince honed in on a recipe for Buttery Boy’s headline item, the buttercake. This puffy plate-sized pancake is a mix between the souffle pancake and the orange blossom hot cake, another Halo Ground go-to.

“It’s halfway between a souffle and a hot cake,” Vince explains. “They look heavy, but they’re quite light – it’s almost a nice crumbly muffin.”

Light they may be, these buttercakes are still a substantial day starter. The OG or classic buttercake comes with a glossy glug of maple syrup and your choice of butter. Guests can pick between melty pads of honeycomb, blackberry, Biscoff, maple or espresso butter, or opt for one of three specialty buttercakes. There’s the pavlova, with lemon curd, passionfruit and vanilla cream, a cinnamon bun-inspired variant with Biscoff spread, vanilla mascarpone and doughnut glaze, and a decadent s’more-inspired buttercake that comes topped with toasted marshmallow, Lindt chocolate and graham crackers.

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“It was about giving more options,” says Vince. “We’ve got another ten flavours in our back pocket – we’ll just rotate them through and see how they all go.”

Speaking of options, Buttery Boy’s menu doesn’t end with buttercakes. There’s a suite of savoury dishes, too, which Vince has fashioned with input from culinary consultant Norman Harvey and Mr Duncan’s head chef Shaun Presland (former executive chef at Sake). Guests can go to town on brekkie bowls (filled with folded eggs, cheese, bacon, spinach, avocado and yuzu dressing), four kinds of English muffin eggs Benedict (including one with Christmas ham), bacon-and-egg burgers, wagyu cheeseburgers, and a crispy buttermilk fried-chicken burger.

On the coffee front, Vince has secured Coffee Supreme for Buttery Boy’s house blend, though beans from Passport are also on deck for filter brews. Specialty drinks like turmeric lattes, ‘boujee’ hot chocolates and the bboy latte (a beverage mixing cold brew with condensed milk) are also available.

And there’s more to come, with Mr Duncan’s pizza oven to pump out Italian folds – a style of toasted sandwich made using focaccia dough, folded and filled with the likes of proscuitto, porchetta and smoked chicken. When everything is humming smoothly, Vince is keen to open Buttery Boy four nights a week for pancakes, rosé and spritzes.

“We’re thinking of doing really cool desserts out of here,” Vince reveals. “We’ll probably satellite as a bit of a pastry kitchen at nighttime.”

It won’t be long before Mr Duncan’s opens to the public. When it does, it’ll jumpstart an exciting new chapter for Chinatown Mall, which has already started to come to life with the additions of Perspective Dining and Full Moon Bar & Restaurant. After seeing the pieces start to fall into place, Vince’s ambitious play to open Mr Duncan’s and Buttery Boy is starting to look like a savvy stroke of genius.

Buttery Boy is now open to the public – head to the Stumble Guide for operating hours and other details.

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