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Good Butcher in NOVA?

pgwiz1 Dec 27, 2006 03:45 PM

I am looking for a good butcher to buy Prime Rib or Beef tenderloin from for a New Years Eve dinner party. I would prefer somewhere close to Arlington/Falls Church/Alexandria area, but am flexible to go as far out as Fairfax City, Fair Lakes, or Herndon.

  1. Smiles2008 May 10, 2008 06:43 PM

    I was also going to recommend the butcher on Mount Vernon in Del Ray, Alexandria.

    1. Cocinero Cubano May 9, 2008 06:04 AM

      There's a new butcher on Mt. Vernon Avenune in Del Ray called Let's Meat on the Avenue. It's in Cheesetique's former space (they've moved into bigger digs down the block). I haven't been to Let's Meat however several friends report that it's right on. Apparently though, you need to go early in the day to get what you want, as the fellow who runs it doesn't keep a large supply.

      The place doesn't have a website, but I did find this on Yelp:


      Let us know where you end up.

      Cocinero Cubano

      1 Reply
      1. re: Cocinero Cubano
        pltrgyst Nov 19, 2008 07:39 AM

        The place is very small, run by an expat Brit. But he's very accomodating. Doesn't have much in stock, but he'll order you anything. Buy there a time or two, and he'll take your orders by phone. He has been getting us some very nice slabs of pork belly recently. Yummm!

      2. t
        takadi May 8, 2008 05:10 PM

        Do you guys know a good place to look for suet in the area?

        1. Meg Dec 28, 2006 02:50 PM

          Wegman's has the best meat at the best prices in NoVA, and if you call ahead I've always found their butchers to be very accomadating for special orders/cuts. It's worth the drive for the savings. I found osso bucco for literally half the price of anywhere else (McLean Organic Butcher, Balducci's, and Giant) and it was gorgeous meat.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Meg
            jpschust Dec 28, 2006 02:59 PM

            Oh I totally disagree. I was there a couple of weeks ago looking for flank steak- how much more simple does it get than that? The cuts they had were abismally small and they wouldn't even make the slightest effort to appease me. The guys behind the counter (I refuse to call them butchers) had no clue about any of the questions I asked, and their selection is just ok at best.

          2. chowser Dec 27, 2006 11:49 PM

            We don't go often but have been happy with the Springfield Butcher on Bland St in Springfield. It's right off the Beltway.

            1. m
              MikeR Dec 27, 2006 07:31 PM

              I should probably hang my head in shame for saying this, but I served a Rancher's Reserve 3-bone rib roast from Safeway for Christmas dinner and it was really, really good. On sale for $4.99/pound last week, too, and they have live people at the meat counter who will cut whatever size you want. And they're good about picking out a nice piece, too, generally better than what they pack and put out on the shelf. It's not prime but still very tasty and tender. I've tried meat from Balducci's (back when it was Sutton Place) and paid more than three times the Safeway price for a hunk of cow not significantly better than Safeway's top of the line.

              If you're having a house full of gourmets who will discuss the meat before enjoying it, spend the big bucks. But if you just want to feed 'em a decent slab of meat, you don't have to go too far out of your way or spend a fortune. Put the money you save on a better wine.

              I used to buy meat for special meals at Heritage Meats, but they're long gone. Pica Deli had pretty good meat for more money, but I guess they're gone now, too. I suspect that if you aren't a regular customer at the butchers at Eastern Market, you'll just get a pretty good rather than a super piece of meat, but it will cost less than Balducci's or Whole Foods.

              5 Replies
              1. re: MikeR
                MakingSense Dec 27, 2006 08:30 PM

                MikeR, you really shouldn't speculate about the treatment that a new customer might receive at Union Meats at Eastern Market. They'll treat him well because they want his future business. They treat everyone well.

                BTW, I bought one of those $4.99 rib roasts at Safeway last week too for a plain old weeknight dinner. It was really good.
                The guys at the meat counter said it was the same stuff in the cases but just frou-frou-ed up to look good in the meat counter. I've paid a lot more for a lot lesser quality. Dinner guests would never have known the difference!

                1. re: MakingSense
                  MikeR Dec 28, 2006 10:12 AM

                  OK, maybe I was a bit hasty there, just knowing the general state of service businesses these days. But given that Safeway is a five minute trip and the Eastern Market would take nearly two hours out of my day, no matter how good they treated me on my first visit, it's unlikely that I'd become a steady customer. But it's nice to know that there's a place to go for special quality at a rational price any time.

                  The Safeway sale (better than half price) on the rib roast seems to be a once or twice a year thing so if I was inclined to have such a hunk of meat for a regular evening dinner, it would cost twice as much. Good to hear some concurrence on the quality of the Safeway deal. I'm not that much of a beef gourmet, but I know I'v enjoyed it on a few of the on-sale occasions for its taste and tenderness more so than some "prime rib" I've had in restaurants.

                  1. re: MikeR
                    MakingSense Dec 28, 2006 03:02 PM

                    Soup had the same good fortune on that prime rib. I think it's important to keep an open mind on things - even Safeway.
                    I wouldn't spend two hours to do my marketing either. I'm fortunate that I can walk to Safeway and Eastern Market plus a lot of other shops. Food lover's dream.

                    1. re: MakingSense
                      jpschust Dec 28, 2006 05:13 PM

                      Indeed. My food lovers dream will come true this fall or early spring when that Harris Teeter directly across the street from my house opens and I'll stop eating out as much.

                2. re: MikeR
                  Soup Dec 28, 2006 12:11 AM

                  Agreed on the Safeway meat. I bought a bunch and asked the butcher to cut in into thick steaks. Grilled it on Xmas eve. Let say the family made quick work of it. I thought it was a good price for good cut of meat. I should have bought more and frozen it.

                3. b
                  bacchante Dec 27, 2006 07:21 PM

                  There is a butcher on Old Dominion Drive in McLean near Chain Bridge Road. It's virtually across the street from the above-mentioned Balducci's. It's called The Organic Butcher, and as I recall, they sell locally-raised organic meats. They have another store in Charlottesville. As I buy all my meat at the Arlington Farmers' Market, I haven't been, but I'm interested to know how it is and give it a try sometime.

                  There isn't much info other than location, but here is a link to their website http://www.theorganicbutcher.com. Here also is a link to a "review" on some board that I happened across in a search. It is useful for the prices listed. http://www.yelp.com/biz/6Ea4gRYGKm-8S...

                  It appears that they have what you are looking for. If you try it, please post on the result.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: bacchante
                    themeatguy Nov 19, 2008 03:39 AM

                    I am in the Meat industry and might have an insight to your question.
                    Everyone, and I mean every meat supplier, from your local grocery store to a wholesale distributor uses the same quality product. 75% of all beef in this country is finished at a feed lot in Texas and most of that beef is then sent to Colorado to be slaughtered and packed.
                    My Friends, it is all about the Age of the product and the way you cook it. So, unless you are an organic needy person, safeway, giant, wegmans, Balducci's, or any other grocer will have the same stuff and it is all quality product....Just don't buy select beef. Choice or Prime! Getting an aged product is important.
                    Here are a couple of tips though:
                    1. Make sure the beef was packed at least 28 days ago - New Meat as it is called, is tougher and harder to cook tender. That is why restaurants buy aged meat....it is more tender and the flavor keeps you coming back for more.
                    2. Make sure before you cook your beef, to let the meat sit, un packed on a plate in your refridge, so that it can release that excess blood that will slow your searing when you cook it.
                    3. ALL WAYS cook your beef longer and at a lower temp...Esp. with large roasts.
                    4. After you cook your roasts....Let them sit for 5 min. Letting the meat sit allows the juices to still and the meat then will become more flavorful and tender..

                    Just an outside perspective, but thought I would say it anywho.....
                    Good luck!

                    1. re: themeatguy
                      pltrgyst Nov 19, 2008 07:36 AM

                      Good tips -- but I'd go even further: We age and dry our beef on a cooling rack in the refrigerator for at least five days, turning it every day, before cooking. We cook rib roasts at 170 to 200 deg. F (i.e., the lowest temp. your oven will hold reliably), until they reach 120 internal, and then rest for half an hour before serving. The result is a nice crust with the inside a perfect pink from edge to edge, as good as you will find anywhere.

                      1. re: pltrgyst
                        themeatguy Nov 20, 2008 02:15 AM

                        Good Call!
                        Turning your meat while aging it is important.
                        Now you said Cooling rack? Are you a supplier, butcher or grocier?
                        Most homes don't have a cooling rack in their homes....

                        Another great tech. is to tie your rib-roast to keep the meat tight during the cooking process. This will also allow the meat to cook evenly and with less space. It might not look like a lot of saved space, but in cooking terms, it really helps...

                        1. re: themeatguy
                          bacchante Nov 20, 2008 07:52 AM

                          Question: I have 2 refrigerators. One is frost-free and the other is not. The frost-free one is dryer as the air turns over quicker. I use it to dry out the skin on chicken. Which should I use for dry-aging?

                          1. re: bacchante
                            themeatguy Nov 25, 2008 03:05 AM

                            II would use what ever one has the least amount of humidity. Also, make sure that you put a bundle of paper towels under it to soak up the purge from the meat.
                            In otherwords, I would use the frost free one...
                            Another idea is to set it on a cookie sheet with a cookie cooler rack under it...That will really help it dry it out and make it a wonderful meal.....

                            Happy Thanksgiving!

                            1. re: themeatguy
                              sekelmaan Nov 25, 2008 06:54 AM

                              Does anyone have a good place where I can check into doing a little aging at home? Can it be done in your normal ol' fridge? I will look it up on google, but i thought that if anyone has good reliable suggestions that would be great as well.

                              1. re: sekelmaan
                                themeatguy Nov 25, 2008 07:17 AM

                                If you are going to do aging at home, you need it to be in one of the slots under .....you know where you would keep veggies, where you can control the humidity......In that, NO Humidity.
                                It won't be like a professional dry aged, as those rooms have ionizing machines that keep the bad bacteria out and the good in.

                                KNOW THIS.....If you get BLACK mold,,,,,Toss the meat. If you get White Mold or yellow mold, that is good and is suppose to happen.

                                Good luck

                  2. MsDiPesto Dec 27, 2006 06:44 PM

                    I haven't been in awhile, but I remember WF in Vienna having a nice butcher shop.

                    1. m
                      MakingSense Dec 27, 2006 04:53 PM

                      Costco's prime rib and tenderloin is excellent and sometimes prime grade shows up in the cases.
                      Or you can cross the bridge into DC to Union Meats at Eastern Market on Capital Hill. Use the 6th St exit off 295, SE Freeway. Fabulous custom butcher with excellent service and top quality meat.

                      1. n
                        novafoodie Dec 27, 2006 04:07 PM

                        Whole Foods in Clarendon and Balducci's in McLean have outstanding meat, IMO. They can cut to order, I believe.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: novafoodie
                          jpschust Dec 27, 2006 04:29 PM

                          I don't know that I'd call whole foods outstanding- better than a normal grocery store, but still not as good as a quality butcher.

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