Block Butcher Bar officially opens today, but over the weekend, they held a soft opening, and members of the general public were allowed to give the staff an opportunity to work some of the kinks out.
Tipped off by a loyal Cowtown Eats reader, I immediately left the happy hour I was at and arrived at about 7:15 p.m. As you enter, you're greeted by a host stand and little retail area in the foyer. As you continue to walk into the long, narrow restaurant (think Dive Bar), the bar is to your left and the table and booth seating is to the right and towards the back of the restaurant. In the very back is an enclosed area where guests can literally watch the sausage get made.
For readers looking for detailed review of their cured meats, this isn't the review for you. I can tell my bologna from my jamon imberico and chorizos, but I don't have enough personal experience with my soppressata or nudjas to provide an informed opinion.
Our party of three was seated by a booth, and greeted by a very enthusiastic waitress, Quyen. We started by ordering a round of drinks and the pork rillette.
A rillette, per Wikipedia, is usually pork “cubed or chopped, salted heavily and cooked slowly in fat until it is tender enough to be easily shredded, and then cooled with enough of the fat to form a paste. They are normally used as spread on bread or toast and served at room temperature.” This dish was a good introduction to what they do and is a great dish to share. My only quibble with the dish is that the house made mustards need to be dialed in. Both versions lacked any punch or bite. The fig jam, however, was fabulous.
We then moved into the meat and cheeses.
For our charcuterie, you can order an assortment of three, six or 12 meats from a list of 21 options. We opted for the middle option, and ordered coppa hot ($2), speck ($3), soppressata ($2), chorizo ($3), jamon iberico ($5) and nduja ($3). Again, I don’t have extensive personal experience with cured meats, but I thoroughly enjoyed each meat.
Diners can also order three, five and seven cheeses, with several choices of cow, goat, sheep and blue cheeses. One of my dining companions ordered the cheeses, and we got the Baley Hazen ($3), bandage cheddar ($3), bel pepato ($3.50), chevre ($2.50) and Marin 3 Cream ($2.50). The cheese aficionados I dined with really enjoyed the diversity in the options and the effort put into sourcing a selection local cheeses.
Here's the meat and cheese part of their menu.
When I first arrived, I wasn’t sure there would be enough to eat to be full. But after taking our time in savoring the plates and the assorted bread served with each of the plates, we were stuffed.
For drinks, I had the Guy on a Buffalo (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Ginger, Lemon, Peach Cardamon Preserves, Angostura Bitters) for $8 and The Alliance (Rittenhouse Rye, Averna Amaro, Yellow Chartruse, Angostura Bitters) for $10. Both drinks showcased the talent of the bartenders in creating craft cocktails with balance and subtle flavors. My dining companions also loved the Lost In Thyme (Sombra Mezcal, Elderflower, Crème do Violette, Lemon, ginger, Thyme) cocktail.
The vibe of the restaurant is really spot on. It seems like a more adult version of LowBrau. As a very broad generalization, LowBrau is filled with a younger set. I don’t think they’re the same audience that would be attracted to Block Butcher Bar. This restaurant seems aimed at a slightly more established crowd and their more sophisticated tastes. To use a car analogy, LowBrau is a Volkswagon, whereas Block Butcher Bar is an Audi. Both share owners, have very passionate fan bases, but their fan bases are distinct.
At the end of the day, the three of us spent $105 for dinner and drinks. It was worth every penny, and I can’t wait to return to see the place continue to improve and grow.
Previous Instant Reaction posts:
- Sweet Dozen's Doissant (Cronut)
- Capital Dime
- Best New Fried Foods at State Fair 2013
- Monticello in Davis
- The Rind
- Enotria Restaurant & Wine Bar
- Hock Farm
- Bento Box
- Seasons 52
- Krush Burger - The Restaurant
- LowBrau Bierhall
- New Helvetia Brewing Co.
- Tako Korean BBQ
- Bacon & Butter
- Firestone Public House
- Cheese Louise
- Blackbird Kitchen & Bar
- Fuzion Eatz
- Doritos Locos Tacos
- Red Rabbit
- Republic by Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen
- Mongo Mongo Mongolian BBQ
- Coast to Coast Sandwiches
- The Porch
- Wicked 'Wich
- Fat Face in Bows & Arrows
- Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen
- Gogi Korean BBQ
- Mini Burger Truck
- Star Ginger
- Pizza Rock, Dive Bar & District 30