Monday, February 7, 2011

The Butcher & Larder

The Butcher & Larder
1026 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642

The Butcher & Larder is a new butchery in Noble Square owned by Rob Levitt. Rob and his wife, Allie, were behind the very popular Bucktown restaurant Mado, which was even praised by the New York Times in an article here. At Mado they were famous for butchering local animals in house and serving very simple dishes that let the high quality ingredients speak for themselves.

Only a few months ago, Rob left Mado and almost immediately announced that he would open Chicago's first "all-local, humanely raised, whole-animal butchery." Considering he was well known in Chicago for hosting butchery classes at Mado, this announcement was big news in the local foodie world.

With that, this past weekend I made the short trip west from downtown to visit the Butcher & Larder to pick up something for an appetizer for a dinner party we were hosting that night. Other than the shop's twitter page, there really isn't a "menu" of items. In fact, the shop seems to get a few whole animals a week and then butchers them on a first-come-first-serve basis until the animal is gone.

The shop itself is pretty low-key with not much except for a small window full of ready to go products and a long counter and 3 people working, including Rob who was there working on a large piece of meat behind the counter. In addition to being a butcher, B&L also offers a few daily lunch specials. When I was there their hot sandwich was a sloppy joe, cold sandwich was chicken salad (both about $8), and they also were selling pints of homemade chili for $16.

When I was there I spotted one of the daily specials, a jalapeno cheese curd brat:

I ended up cooking them for lunch. Very flavorful, they had a subtle jalapeno flavor, a few cheese curds, and a hearty brat texture. Great stuff and not too expensive at roughly $2.50 each.

For our dinner party, I bought three links of B&L's "house" sausage. I served them on a platter with some simple mustard. To be perfectly honest I forgot to ask what was in them, but they were very good and went quickly during our cocktail hour.

When waiting in line, I spotted a few different pates in the display glass and had to try some. Below is a small slice of the very rich and creamy "country" pate. This was just outstanding, and something I can see myself stopping in for and buying by the pound. I served it with some light toast.

Overall, the Butcher & Larder is a big winner in my book. I love that all the animals come from local farms, and the freshness of the meat really shows through in their offerings. I expected the shop to be expensive, but it really was pretty reasonable. I will certainly be back!

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