Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Butcher Shop - Restaurant Week #2

Barbara Lynch is pretty much the queen of the Boston chefs. She's opened a couple more casual places in the past few years, and as luck would have it one was participating in restaurant week.

The Butcher Shop is a small restaurant, with table seating for 19 and a long bar. In the back there is a refrigerated section with a selection of meats and accompaniments. I will admit, that I walked out with a bag of meat, cheese, honey and cornichons. The set up is a bit weird, in that there is no real waiting space so it gives a very bar-like atmosphere. Our table was shared with another couple, I'm not a fan of the communal dining, so luckily I wasn't on a date.

My dining companion (B) and I planned on splitting everything, so we got to taste the whole gamut of restaurant week offerings. Instead of the usual bread and butter, here we were served Irish Soda Bread and butter with Fleur de Sel (man that salt is good!) and a giant side of their unfiltered honey. We both ended up buying jars of that and B doesn't even like honey!

I needed to try the chickpea fritters off the regular menu, so we started with those. They had a yogurt and mint sauce with them, the yogurt was a thick greek style and the mint flavor was very mild, perhaps dill would have worked better? The fritters themselves were good, very dense, but a bit dry, so that after 2 I had enough. Good to share for a table of 4, where everyone just gets one.

Watermelon gazpacho with honeydew, prosecco, and mint: I love nothing more in the summer than a chilled melon soup. I believe it's just the lightest starter for a meal. This was no different, although it had an ingredient that wasn't listed - avocado. I liked this addition, it gave the soup a bit of substance. B wasn't a fan of the avocado, and tasted something that "tastes like redhots" in the aftertaste. I kept eating more and also tasted it, but it wasn't cinnamon. There also was some oil in the soup, which I couldn't quite figure out the purpose of.
Arugula Salad, Goat Cheese, Pickled Onions and Tomatoes: Straightforward salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. The tomatoes were yellow and red grape tomatoes, and when plated they were hidden under the arugula. There was a good sized serving of goat cheese on it, which we both fell in love with and I had to buy half a pound of to take home. I did ask the waitress 3 times what kind of goat cheese it was, but never did get the answer to that. B loved the onions.

Given the name of the restaurant is Butcher Shop one option was Hanger Steak, Great Hill Blue Cheese and Radish. I had a few issues with this dish, we asked for it medium, and it was a bit too pink for me, plus it came out cold. I asked if it could be cooked a bit more, and it was (rather, it was a whole new plate). But it was still cold. I think, they had prepared a bunch ahead of time and so they weren't fresh out of the broiler/pan what have you. The other being, that it was served not with radish, but with arugula. So if you had ordered the salad appetizer, you were essentially getting two of the same salad, one with blue cheese and one with goat. But the meat was good, not the best slice of steak I've ever had, but again that could be the cold factor. The Great Hill Blue was VERY strong. So much, that I opted to only eat the tiny crumbs. If you have a deep burning love of strong cheeses, this is certainly the one for you. Again, we had the plater who likes to hide things, the cheese was in the middle of the arugula.The next option was Crispy Chicken Breast with Corn and Shitake. Seeing as this was my lunch yesterday at Radius, I was curious as to how it was done here. This was GOOD! Although, not chicken breast. There was a drumstick and some thigh. It wasn't breaded, just skin on lightly fried with some herbs. B exclaimed that the corn was "da bomb" and she was sooooooo right. Neither of us could get enough of it. Fresh, crisp kernels with I have no idea what. The shitake was very garlicy. This plate was wiped clean with only the drumstick bone left on it. Desserts: My favorite part of any meal.
Fruit Salad with Chantilly Cream: Other than dessert in general there is nothing I love more than fresh cream. And this came with a GIANT MOUND of it. Underneath we had blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and a sliver of apricot. All delicious, light and a good end to a meal. B felt like the berries could have used something more, maybe sugar. The other dessert was Chocolate Almond Cake with Peaches. This was one dense piece of cake. A small piece, but anything more would have been a waste. Topped with a cream (possibly almond flavor?) that was weird. I couldn't put my tongue on exactly what was weird about it, but it was something in the texture. The peaches, I am fairly sure were apricots, sliced and just amazing in this heavy sugary sauce. I could've eaten a plate of those alone! Lucky for me, they didn't sell those in the retail shop. Service: Very good the first 2/3 of the meal. Our waitress was friendly and prompt with everything, until after the entrees. There was a 20-30 minute or so lag between those and the desserts. The only thing we could think of was they ran out of desserts and had to make new ones? She even came over at one point to mention the desserts were coming. I suppose us looking around wondering if maybe she thought she had already brought them may have fueled that comment. But other than that time lag, it was flawless.

Ambiance: As I said before it has a definite local bar feel. Which means I would be very likely to go back with a group of friends, rather than a date. There is a large butcher block area in the middle of the restaurant where when the wait got to be an hour and half a lot of people congregated. Besides, that is a good location to have a place to put drinks while waiting for a table.

Rating: 8/10. I would recommend it, and would take friends. And next time I will be sure to order the antipasto platter the table next to us had. It looked amazing. The $14 hot dog on the other hand, still seems a bit much to me.

1 comment:

annehawk said...

This looks quite decadent. There is nothing I hate more than a chilled melon soup (I got one as an amuse bouche at DiBartolo's lunch the other day and I felt so bad that I couldn't really eat it)! And some people are allergic to avocados! They shouldn't sneak in surprise ingredients like that. But otherwise this looked quite delicious - and the name of the restaurant made me think that we need to go to breakfast at The Pork Store in the Mission sometime when you're out here.