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Good, Even Great, Butchers in New England


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After reading through Ron's Reagan Meats and Zier's Prime Meats threads in the Heartland forum, I started feeling pretty pissy about the choices down here. Back in the day, there was a good butcher on Atwells Ave in Providence called House of Veal, but they've been gone for a while; there is a good carnicaria on Gano, but their beef is ordinary. Indeed, there are no great butchers around Providence of which I'm aware.

Surely there are some good butchers in New England, aren't there? Do you know of any?

Chris Amirault

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I've shopped at Savenor's in Beacon Hill, but only to buy stuff like rabbit and oxtail so I can't speak of their butchering. But Julia Child reportedly shopped at the Cambridge location. I've also heard good things about John Dewar's in Newton/Wellesley.

I'm about 30 miles northwest of Boston. I've been getting my special orders of veal bones and specialty meats at Blood Farm, a small slaughterhouse in West Groton, MA, with a small retail operation out front (no web site). They are very accommodating and the prices are good. A couple weeks ago I ordered 6 lbs. of veal bones for stock -- they ended up throwing in another four #s, and I paid a little over $5 for the whole bag.

When I lived in West Hartford, CT, I bought my meat at Crown Market.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

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Sorry, I don't. Whenever I have to contact them, I do a Switchboard search for numbers. However, I believe The Crown Market and Savenor's have websites.

Edited by ninetofive (log)

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

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I've shopped at Savenor's in Beacon Hill, but only to buy stuff like rabbit and oxtail so I can't speak of their butchering. But Julia Child reportedly shopped at the Cambridge location. I've also heard good things about John Dewar's in Newton/Wellesley.

I'm about 30 miles northwest of Boston. I've been getting my special orders of veal bones and specialty meats at Blood Farm, a small slaughterhouse in West Groton, MA, with a small retail operation out front (no web site). They are very accommodating and the prices are good. A couple weeks ago I ordered 6 lbs. of veal bones for stock -- they ended up throwing in another four #s, and I paid a little over $5 for the whole bag.

When I lived in West Hartford, CT, I bought my meat at Crown Market.

We have two upscale butchers across the street from each other in Bedford, New Hampshire that have USDA Prime steaks for like...$19.95 a lb. We've found rack of veal and lamb filet steaks too. This place in West Groton sounds interesting--what are their prices like?

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I happened to find Blood Farm's price list (phone is 978-448-6669) and their address is 94 West Main St, West Groton, MA 01472. It's a pretty extensive list, but to give you an idea:

whole chicken, $1.29/#

beef flank steak, $5.49#

beef tenderloin, $13.99/#

92 percent lean ground beef, $3.79

veal loin chops, $6.99/#

lamb chops, $10.99/#

lamb french cut rack, $18.99/#

plus all sorts of variety meats including sweetbreads, brains, hearts, etc., as well as assorted game and smoked meats/charcuterie. I have no idea what grade the beef is, however -- but I do know Wolfe's Neck Farms, the organic meat company up in Maine, sends some of their cattle to Blood Farm for slaughtering.

I've called and ordered some offbeat stuff and they've always come through for me. Just a warning: when you place the order, they sound very disorganized on the phone and you wonder if they'll ever call you back -- but they do. You just have to trust. And there's no direct way of getting there -- lots of back roads, but a very pretty drive.

:raz:

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

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I happened to find Blood Farm's price list (phone is 978-448-6669) and their address is 94 West Main St, West Groton, MA 01472. It's a pretty extensive list, but to give you an idea:

whole chicken, $1.29/#

beef flank steak, $5.49#

beef tenderloin, $13.99/#

92 percent lean ground beef, $3.79

veal loin chops, $6.99/#

lamb chops, $10.99/#

lamb french cut rack, $18.99/#

plus all sorts of variety meats including sweetbreads, brains, hearts, etc., as well as assorted game and smoked meats/charcuterie. I have no idea what grade the beef is, however -- but I do know Wolfe's Neck Farms, the organic meat company up in Maine, sends some of their cattle to Blood Farm for slaughtering.

I've called and ordered some offbeat stuff and they've always come through for me. Just a warning: when you place the order, they sound very disorganized on the phone and  you wonder if they'll ever call you back -- but they do. You just have to trust. And there's no direct way of getting there -- lots of back roads, but a very pretty drive.

:raz:

Thanks so much! Having a good butcher is a gift. When we lived in Brooklyn back in the '90s we went to a great place called Staubitz on Court Street, where John Staubitz used to peel a beautiful steak off a side of beef. Our weekend resource was Guido's in Lenox MA, where we actually heard a New York lady say "Why don't the locals shop during the week so we don't have to wait so long!??"

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I will drive far for good meat :biggrin: so I hope to see some more recommendations here.

I've been happy with some of my meat purchases from Donelan's, a small grocery chain with shops in Acton, Littleton, and Groton. A couple weeks ago we bought a chuck eye roast from them with an organic?/minimal processing? label that had this absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious meaty flavor. I went back to the Acton store to buy some more, and the butcher insisted I was mistaken about the cut from that label and tried to sell me a roast from the round. :huh::hmmm:

I've also been happy with the quality at Roche Brothers. The people at the meat counter have been very knowledgeable and helpful whenever I've stopped by.

WHS, I'm going to check out those butchers in Bedford this weekend -- I'm heading up to Norwich, Vermont, to do some (ahem) Christmas shopping at King Arthur Flour. I hope to stop by Sausage Source in Henniker, NH, on the way -- I've done some mail order from them, so I'm eager to visit their retail shop. I'm happy to post a store report if anyone's interested in sausage/jerky making.

Edited by ninetofive (log)

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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I'm curious -- what about those great little butchers I used to go to in Boston's North End? I don't know if they were stocking great meat -- not many of their customers were going to shell out $20 for a pound of beef, I think. But in terms of serious butcher skills, like cutting out just the piece of meat you wanted, beautifully boning out or butterflying your cut, and making their own sausage, they seemed pretty damn competent.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I'm curious -- what about those great little butchers I used to go to in Boston's North End?  I don't know if they were stocking great meat -- not many of their customers were going to shell out $20 for a pound of beef, I think.  But in terms of serious butcher skills, like cutting out just the piece of meat you wanted, beautifully boning out or butterflying your cut, and making their own sausage, they seemed pretty damn competent.

There aren't many around anymore...first the Big Dig put some out of business, now post-Big Dig real estate prices are doing away with others.

Try John Dewar & Co., which ninetofive mentioned upthread. Good but expensive, though not overpriced like Savenor's. Excellent selection. Both retail stores are in the 'burbs, however, which is makes it a detour for those of us who rely on public transit for daily shopping.


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WHS, I'm going to check out those butchers in Bedford this weekend -- I'm heading up to Norwich, Vermont, to do some (ahem) Christmas shopping at King Arthur Flour. I hope to stop by Sausage Source in Henniker, NH, on the way -- I've done some mail order from them, so I'm eager to visit their retail shop. I'm happy to post a store report if anyone's interested in sausage/jerky making.

On your way to Norwich, be sure to check out Sausage Heaven on S. Elm St in Manchester. He's a high-tech refugee who decided he'd rather make sausage. Also, down Valley St is a Korean market that sells the really thin-sliced frozen beef that's used for bulgogi, if you're into that.

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I hope to stop by Sausage Source in Henniker, NH, on the way -- I've done some mail order from them, so I'm eager to visit their retail shop. I'm happy to post a store report if anyone's interested in sausage/jerky making.

Oh, yes, please do! Pix too would be great!

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Second the Savenor's recommendation..prime beef, lots of exotic meats; expensive but very high quality..Charles St..buy most of my steaks here.

In the North End, I like Sulmona's..on Parmenter St..great veal, lamb, pork..all cut to order.. good beef..my "go to" place for hamburger meat; they grind to order. .also make their own sausages. I'll order my turkey from them this week.

Susi's on Salem is my second choice North End butcher..also very good traditional butcher.

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I happened to be in Newton today so I stopped by John Dewar's -- small shop, smelled nice (sometimes butcher shops smell so feral). As soon as I started looking over the meats, someone came right over. The prices were reasonable -- I noticed some nice-looking flank steaks around $7/#. Beef tenderloin was something like $24/#, though I think it was marked Prime.

There was another case on the other side of the shop where they had some game. A woman was asking about venison, and the salesperson really did a good job telling her how it was raised and should be cooked, etc. By the end of her spiel I wanted to buy a couple pounds myself, but then she said it was $17.99/# so I skeddaddled out of there with my charge card.

I ended up consoling myself with a free-range chicken and some lamb at Trader Joe's. :raz:

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

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I'll second the Guido's blurb. Both locations Great Barrington and Pittsfield.

Also have heard a few good words regarding The Meat House from a few friends. Any comments regarding them?

woodburner

The Meat House in Bedford NH is very good; a little more glitzy (if a butcher can be glitzy) than Bedford Prime Meats across the street.

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Savenor's is on Beacon Hill..MGH red line stop.

John Dewars is accessible by the Green Line..Newton Center stop..pretty long ride though.

I meant that both John Dewar's stores are in the 'burbs, though you are right, the Newton Center store is accessible on the T. Savenor's is convenient to downtown, a quick walk from my office even, but I just think their prices are prohibitive, even if I don't have to pay to park on Beacon Hill.

A friend reminded me that the Epicurean Meat Market opened up in the South End. Review here. Before going retail, seems the owners served the restaurant industry--and sell products from John Dewar's. I will try to visit soon and report back.


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I was a regular at Epicurean..and you'r right...they were supplied by John Dewars..even had 28 day aged beef on a day's notice..from Dewars wholesale place in Newmarket Sq. Unfortunately, they closed last year...space is now taken by the soon to open Toro..Ken Oringer's (Clio, Uni) tapas place.

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I mentioned Roche Brothers in a post above. I have shopped the meat counter at the Acton store several times and they've been very helpful. I seem to recall they cut a nice looking flank steak down to size for me, without complaint. Another time the butcher recommended a cut of meat for a particular dish (can't remember what cut or what I was making) and he was dead-on -- the meat was delish.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

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Somebody at work was raving about the meat dept at Roche Brothers.  There's one in Burlington MA, and I was wondering if it's worth checking out?

I, too, used to shop at the meat counter at the Acton store. I had a few problems with them so I stopped there. It is just my wife and I and one day they had a sale on roast beef. There was a particularly nice one on display but it was too big for just the two of us. When I asked them to cut a "steak about 1 1/2" inches thick" from it. The initial response was "What am I supposed to do with the other piece? After explaining that I would take both pieces he went off and cut the roast in half. This resulted in two pieces of meat that were too big to be considered a steak and too small for a roast.

The reason I finally stopped shoping there was when I asked about getting a chicken breast spilt into two halves. The person was very accomodating and took the chicken over to the counter and cut is in half then wrapped it and gave it too me. Unfortunately, the counter where it was cut had ground beef all over it and he wound up cross contaminating both my chicken with the ground beef and the ground beef with the chicken.

On top of all of that, the beef isn't anywhere near as flavorful as what I get from Dewar's or Lobel's. If I need a piece of beef and I can't get to Dewar's I go to the WQest Acton Supermarket. It is better than Roche Brothers but not as good as Dewar's.

Dan

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I was a regular at Epicurean..and you'r right...they were supplied by John Dewars..even had 28 day aged beef on a day's notice..from Dewars wholesale place in Newmarket Sq.  Unfortunately, they closed last year...space is now taken by the soon to open Toro..Ken Oringer's (Clio, Uni) tapas place.

Thanks for saving me--and other readers--a trip...though I'm sure we would have consoled ourselves with a bite to eat at Oringer's new place.


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