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Dec 27, 2006 03:45 PM

Good Butcher in NOVA?

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.

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  1. 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

      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.

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

        1. 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 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.

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

          7 Replies
          1. re: bacchante

            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 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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        If you are going to do aging at home, you need it to be in one of the slots under 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. 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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                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.