My most immediate family, which has consisted of my mom, my younger sister Ali and myself for the past decade, is currently undergoing a great expansion. And when I say great expansion I mean it has doubled in size over the past year. This is due to a recent engagement between my mom and a certain Tom Dolan. I happen to love the idea for many reasons, however one in particular is that this said Dolan happens to enjoy eating out just as much as I do, if not more. He also has two sons which effectively makes my family a new-age, mini Brady-bunch. Since realizing this I’ve become an even bigger fan of my family’s expansion because now this means twice as many birthdays, which means twice as many family dinners out.
My youngest step-brother Tim, who happens to be two years older than me, just celebrated his 25th birthday at Grill 23 last week. Towards the end of our very extravagant and quite rowdy dinner, my mom pulled me aside to see if I’d like to do something a little more intimate during the week. This almost always refers to a dinner date. Naturally, I obliged. In usual fashion I told her “fret-not” I’d make a reservation somewhere and give her a heads up by Wednesday.
Dining out with my mom is one of my favorite past times, and I fully credit her with my love of food. I also particularly love going out to eat with just her because not only does it give us a chance to actually catch up with each other amidst our busy schedules, but I always get to pick the restaurant.
After a very familiar dinner at Grill 23, I decided I was still in the mood for steak but wanted something a little more interesting, something new, maybe even innovative. Immediately I decided on The Butcher Shop. After hearing a ton of hype about the place, I ended up passing it for the first time just a few days before while strolling through the South End (on my way to find bread pudding none-the less). It was mid-afternoon and the place was packed, it also happened to be a Monday so I was even more impressed. I guess the hype had some truth to it. I tried making reservations for Wednesday, but they don’t take them for small parties so we showed up that night hoping we could at least find a seat at the bar. I arrived first, and there happened to be one table left. Perfect.
I’d already heard that the Steak Tartare was amazing, so we decided to start with that. Served with pickled onions and toasted, buttered brioche… it was amazing. Aside from their usual menu, The Butcher Shop is known for offering seasonal nightly options which change on a daily basis. With a vast array of appetizers, entrée’s and a la carte offerings the rotating menu also includes a slew of artisanal cheeses. Many of which I had no idea how to pronounce, but we decided to go with one cow’s milk cheese (bianco di langa) and one goat cheese (boucheron) while we continued looking over the menu.
I know it’s a steak place, but I couldn’t resist the Peking Duck special. I had also never tried ramps, which I later found out come from the onion family. So after much debate, which is something that occurs every time I go out to eat, I went with my gut instinct and ordered the Peking Duck while my mom decided on the Lamb Leg. Most of the duck I eat is at Asian restaurants where they seem to never ask how I want it cooked; my server at TBS actually did. A little caught off guard, I ordered it like I would order any steak: medium-rare. I later found out this was an excellent choice.
I have to admit all the food was beyond delicious. My duck was so flavorful and far superior to any duck dish I’ve ever ordered prior to my TBS experience. The same with my mom’s Lamb Leg. Cooked to perfection and the artichoke|chickpea sauce had just the right kick to it.
After eating here once, I feel like it would be almost impossible to have a bad experience at such a restaurant. I really loved the size, it was small but wasn’t annoyingly packed or over-crowded like some of the surrounding tiny South End restaurants can be. For those who didn’t have seats, they stood around the butchers table located towards the back of the restaurant sipping wine and enjoying small plates. All the while, watching the butcher exercise his craft.
I couldn’t help but notice the bevy of different atmospheres that existed within the restaurant. When you first walk in, you see chatty bar go-ers to the right and more intimate diners seated at small high-top tables lining the left side. Aside from the atmosphere, what matters most is the food, and Chef Barbara Lynch definitely has that mastered with The Butcher Shop. With the ever-changing menu, offering only the most in-season produce, the food is borderline irresistible. Being Italian myself, I love the Italian|French inspired dishes and you really can’t go wrong with small plates. Ever. So here’s my thanks to The Butcher Shop for providing amazing service, amazing food, amazing atmosphere and amazing wine. And thank you mom for the (always) amazing company. I will absolutely be visiting The Butcher Shop again.
I must also mention, as it would be inexcusable not to, that The Butcher Shop doubles as (you guessed it) a full service butcher shop. Offering its own homemade hot dogs and sausages which can be found in a large fridge located at the back of the restaurant. Along with great cuts of meat, they also sell a vast array of accoutrements such as foie gras, demi glace, fresh vegetables and more. And while the small plates and wine can add up to quite the hefty bill, I must admit that the selections from the “market” in the back are very reasonably priced. With a little something for everyone, this place definitely made quite the dining imprint in my mind. I highly recommend checking it out!