WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Butcher is a bare-bones (literally) sandwich specialist that vends the best part of the menu from Cochon next door. Those are the in-house cured and smoked meats, made with fresh product from small-scale, high-quality pig farmers. The result is thrilling, particularly if you have joined the throngs going crazy for pig these days.
It’s not exactly a barbecue joint, although if you’re in the mood for a pulled pork sandwich you can certainly get one. It will be a bit different from what you’re used to. The range of meats is wider, too–in the direction of a well-stocked deli. You can get a great Cuban sandwich, hot dog, or muffuletta here. Almost everything is cured, smoked, and dry-aged on premises. Yet the prices are in the same range as a poor boy, if not quite as filling. The breads used for the sandwiches are unusually good.
Owner/chef Donald Link came out of the western end of the Cajun country, where he grew up watching men carving up animals and turning every scrap of them into something delicious. He turned those memories into reality when he opened Cochon shortly after Hurricane Katrina. It became and remains one of the hottest restaurants in town. Two years later Butcher opened as an annex, catching Cochon’s overflow as well as selling meats by the pound and even whole roasted pigs.
True to the name, it looks more like a country butcher shop than a deli, with sausages hanging in coolers and haunches of meat waiting to be carved. A blackboard informs of the specials. You’ll have plenty of time to read it while waiting to be served. A busy place during regular mealtimes, it’s most convenient in mid-afternoon. Lots of take-out customers.
»Head cheese with chow-chow and mustard
Marinated brussels sprouts
Sweet and spicy brisket slider
»Duck pastrami slider
Pancetta mac ‘n’ cheese
»Buckboard bacon melt, collards
»Pastrami, sauerkraut, rye
Roasted turkey, arugula, tomato, fontina, basil pesto aioli on seven-grain bread
Pork belly, mint, cucumber on white
Cold roast beef, horseradish, arugula
»Barbecue pork Carolina style
»Beef hot dog “all the way”
»Gambino (house meats, herb vinaigrette)
»Hazelnut-chocolate bark, sun-dried cherries
Housemade assorted cookies
FOR BEST RESULTS
Butcher is a very busy place during regular mealtimes. It’s most convenient in mid-afternoon.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
I think most customers here wish the premises were bigger.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment
- Consistency +1
- Value +2
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +1
- Hipness +3
- Local Color +2
- Open Sunday lunch
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- No reservations
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
Chef Donald Link draws on his Southwestern Louisiana heritage to create a hands-on, old-style Cajun butcher shop. Such places are famous for their cured meats, sausages, hogshead cheese and the like. Link (what a great name for a sausagemaker!) makes all of that in house. Such a practice is becoming almost commonplace, but Link was a trendsetter in the field. Since he’s a chef of the highest repute (his cookbook Real Cajun was a big hit, and he now has a web television show), he must demonstrate his ability to invent beyond the familiar, comfort-food barbecue standards. And he does.