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The Butcher Shop doesn't care.

So despite the fact that I have become a rather jaded, one time fan of The Butcher Shop, I decided to reward my girlfriend's gift of a trip to State Street Barbers (lots of fun, free beer) with a quick brunch stop and a chance for her to try some new wines at the ol' BS. After all, I hadn't been there in over a year and I figured I might as well check in and see whether things had changed.

A somewhat mixed review...

In this case, the food was not a significant part of the equation. We were in for a light lunch and had the antipasti and the cheese plate. Both were very good so no complaints there. We followed that with the Apricot Tarte Tatin.

Now, the tart itself was rather nice but it was topped with the single worst scoop of ice cream I have ever had in Boston. Hands down. In your youth, have you ever gone to a birthday party where the parent bought the cheapest ice cream in the supermarket? Even though you're a child, you recognize that the wad of milky, splintery, freezer-burned ice slowly melting alongside the somehow worse cake is garbage? Yeah, well I got that. I could hear the ice in it crackle as my spoon dipped through it and feel the shards of ice stick against the roof of my mouth. I sorely regret not explaining that point to the bartender.

Food aside, what got me was the total lack of passion or interest that the staff reflected in regards to the menu.

When I asked the bartender for details on the burrata (a super soft and very perishable Italian cheese), she rolled her eyes at me before slumping off to ask one of the runners. At no point did she engage us in respect to the menu or wines and when we were served the cheese plate, she rattled off the selections as if she was showing off just how fast she could do it. No interest, no excitement, nothing.

Amidst this, the head waiter was treating the house stereo as his on private karaoke bar and we his captive audience. While we were there, we were treated to David Bowie, Blondie, Queen and a handful of other schmaltzy pop hits with occasional pauses as he changed cd's so that he could continue singing along. None of this seemed to be merited by the enjoyment of others in the dining room. From where I sat, his floor show was universally ignored.

I was pleased to see that the refrigerator case in the back had some more interesting items for sale than in the past. However, between the ignorant and sullen bartender and the patently obnoxious waiter cranking his latest "I'm Running the Stereo at Work Today" mix, I began to get the feeling that The Butcher Shop is more like the Island of Misfit Toys in Barbara's Boston empire.

I went in with an open mind and left thoroughly disappointed.

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  1. We were there a few weeks ago to purchase items to take home THe hot dogs (frankfurts?) all beef- looked great but when I went to cook them the next day they smelled bad and were slimy. I threw them away although they were very expensive. The pate we bought was good as was the multigrian bread but I cannot believe how bad those dogs were!!!!

    1. We too had a dismal experience. Went in around lunch time...stopped first to look at the offerings in the case. Not one staff person approached us, nor talked to us. We turned around and waited, trying to make eye contact. And at the least, we figured someone would say, "Would you like a seat?" "Can I help you with anything?" SOMETHING!!!! but nothing...no eye contact. No hospitality. Nothing. (Was the staff too busy dusting/polishing, setting the tables??!!) As a side note, the place was not crowded at all, so that wasn't the issue. And we were dressed nicely, so that wasn't the issue either.

      It was a dreadful experience... I was quite surprised given the stuff I had heard about it, but it left such a bad taste in my mouth, we definitely won't be dropping any dough there.

      1. I know that they have had some turnover. Mitch, the butcher that we all counted on to select, trim and make cooking suggestions for our meat, left. Then Chef David Reynoso left to take over the kitchen at Spire.

        We have had problems with the music at the Butcher shop in the past. They had another manager, Doug, who played dreadful noise in place of music and told us that was what the owner, Barbara Lynch wanted.

        Fortunately, I ran into Chef David in another setting and told him why we had not been in for some time. He told me that it was not policy and promised we would have a pleasant experience if we returned. We did and he kept his promise.

        As with all restaurants, I think you have to let them settle into the new management before you judge them.

        That said, we stopped going to B&G because of the music. There are places where nasty music, designed to move customers out of their seats, is company policy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PennyC

          We've moved the off topic digression about music in restaurants to the Not About Food board: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          Please add your thoughts about music in restaurants there, and keep your comments here focused on chow. Thanks.

        2. B, apologies that I forgot to add a B.

          1. I made a reservation there for restaurant week but given this I think I'll cancel it and try someplace else. So far I'm going to Mistral, Aquitaine and Upstairs on the Square. Any thoughts? Recommendations?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Patricia

              I'd suggest that you not cancel your reservation. Go and judge for yourself. I personally enjoy TBS, with whatever faults it might have. I hope you do too.

            2. Perhaps this is the karma for serving an $18 hot dog.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                BTW, It's $14.00. For that you get a 100% house-made pork bratwurst, which, I notice, is many times enough for 2!

                1. re: upton1039

                  $18, $14...either way. $14 is enough to get you three pounds of 100% house made bratwurst from any good butcher. The point is that at one time, the Butcher Shop was a downright bargain. A plate of serrano ham, a bowl of almonds and a glass of wine was about the same as the hot dog runs today. Walking in, seeting "OFFAL" "LARD" and "TONGUE" framed so prettily on the glass is false advertising. Not long ago, The Butcher Shop was the one and only place in Boston that seemed to relish in providing those foods in an appropriately simple setting.

                  Now? Duck tacos, hot dogs and gazpacho. The current menu is an affront to anyone who at one point really liked what the Butcher Shop represented.

              2. No 9 Park has outstanding service. However I find the staff at both the Butcher Shop and B&G to be somewhat indifferent to the customers, and sometimes downright snide in the way they deal with people. No matter, as I have no use for either of these places any longer. I have decided that the Butcher Shop is a tired novelty. If I want B&G type food, I go to Neptune which I prefer in terms of food, atmosphere and service. I limit my dining at the Lynch establishments at No 9 Oark, which does not every let me down (once I realized you need to order 3 courses to get enough to eat).

                2 Replies
                1. re: Gabatta

                  Either the people at B&G don't like you or things must really have changed at B&G. I have always gotten friendly and well informed service at B&G. I have always felt more comfortable and truly welcomed there than anywhere in Boston. The servers are on the hip side and their sense of humor might strike you (not me) as snide, but over the years, I have really felt that the servers are happy to work there and more important, happy to serve me.

                  Other than the prices being a little higher than I would like, the whole experience at B&G has alwys been great. I have not been there for a couple of months, but I find it hard to imagine that the place would have changed that much.

                  1. re: Gabatta

                    Well put. I wonder why that is. Too much time spent at the flagship?

                  2. I liked The Butcher Shop better -- a lot better -- in its initial incarnation, when it was more of a wine bar serving tapas-like small plates. Its move to traditional apps and entrees makes it far less interesting and far less of a value to me. I dined there a couple times a month when it was about small plates, now never. I am told that ownership is planning a move back to the small plates concept, a story I'm skeptical about for a variety of reasons, but I'd give it another shot if it did.