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East Bay butcher recommendations?

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precipice Aug 15, 2005 11:01 PM

I've been to the Rockridge Market Hall butcher's, Ver Brugge in Elmwood, the Whole Foods on Telegraph and Ashby, Berkeley Bowl, and a few Andronico's. I haven't been blown away by anyone -- the Market Hall counter has sold me meat that smelled positively putrid, and Ver Brugge wasn't as good as I'd hoped. Is there an equivalent to Bryan's in San Francisco over here? Or some place you absolutely love?

The Whole Foods counter looks pretty nice in general, but if I can avoid that place, I'd like to. Berkeley Bowl looks high-turnover and pretty high quality, but they don't seem to have time to help you with anything unusual.

Thanks much for any meaty pointers.

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    Oakland Barb RE: precipice Aug 16, 2005 12:46 AM

    For top of the line (and prices to match), I like Cafe Rouge.
    I've had meat that was very poor from Ver Brugge so I try to avoid it. I don't think it's "bad", it just tastes like it's been sitting in the fridge too long.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Oakland Barb
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      oakjoan RE: Oakland Barb Aug 16, 2005 01:47 AM

      I love Cafe Rouge's meat market, but I don't know if you can get special cuts/service there. I've never asked so what do I know. They are very pricy, however, except for the cheap steak options of which I partake often.

      Onglet, bavette, skirt steak - all under 8 bucks a pound...unless they've gone up in the past month (haven't been in a month).

      If you shop at BB during an off hour so that the meat counter isn't packed with folks waving numbers (last Saturday around 11 was such a time), you can probably ask for special treatment....just don't get one of the newbies. The oldest butcher (wispy gray beard and knitted cap) is very knowledgeable and will help you.

      A friend of mine shops at a butcher on Fruitvale and loves it....I've never been and don't know the name - maybe fellow Hounds will have the name and some info.

      Does the kosher store on Lakeshore still have a butcher? They used to when they were on Grand.....

      I'm boycotting Whole Foods because I just can't stand the yuppiness and high prices.

      Did you check out Patricia Unterman's newest edition of her book? She turned me on to a wonderful poultry butcher on 9th Street in Oakland Chinatown....maybe she has red meat ideas, too?

      1. re: oakjoan
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        roxie RE: oakjoan Aug 16, 2005 03:00 AM

        I used to swear by Ver Brugge but I think it has gone way down hill. I shop at the Bowl when I can otherwise Piedmont Grocery has begun to carry both Niman Ranch meats and Rosie Chickens. I do occassionally buy meat at Cafe Rouge(the brined pork chops are great!). For a real treat pick up a Hoffman Farm Chicken at Magnani on Wed or Friday.

        1. re: roxie
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          oakjoan RE: roxie Aug 16, 2005 12:55 PM

          You can also get a Hoffman chicken at Cafe Rouge - roasted, raw, or salt and peppered and left to marinate for a day.

          Their bunny pate, imho, is out of this world. I've also gotten their duck thighs/legs and they've been great. Don't know where ducks are from.

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      Monty RE: precipice Aug 16, 2005 10:00 AM

      Byron Meat Market in Alameda is very good, all most all organic and grass fed beef. Dave, the owner, use to work for Nieman Ranch so knows his stuff. It's located in the Alameda Market Place on Park St. There's also a great bakery, Pucci Seafood and Farmstead Wines and Cheese, outstanding.

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        Shep RE: precipice Aug 16, 2005 10:47 AM

        I like the butcher shop in Encinal Market, at Encinal and High Street in Alameda. It's out of the way unless you live nearby, but for some reason the combination of nice cuts, service, and the neighborhood atmosphere, keep me coming back.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Shep
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          Monty RE: Shep Aug 16, 2005 10:52 AM

          Couldn't agree more, one of my favorite meat markets. Great service, willling to do almost anything you request and always high quality. It's not organic but so what. Visit it at least once a week, sometimes more. And, it's only a mile or so from the house.

          1. re: Monty
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            Shep RE: Monty Aug 16, 2005 12:48 PM

            It's "on my way" from Livermore to Berkeley. And a fast heart-buster at the Burger Orchard, if I can catch them open.

            1. re: Shep
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              Monty RE: Shep Aug 16, 2005 01:57 PM

              One of the better burgers on the island. I too drop in there on occasion.

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          Robert Lauriston RE: precipice Aug 16, 2005 11:48 AM

          Cafe Rouge is my main butcher. Definitely the East Bay equivalent of Bryan's.

          I also buy lamb and innards at Indus Foods (halal), and charcuterie from Fatted Calf at the Berkeley Saturday farmers market.

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            precipice RE: precipice Aug 16, 2005 12:01 PM

            Thanks for all the great responses. To Cafe Rouge!

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              Morton the Mousse RE: precipice Aug 16, 2005 01:32 PM

              Highland Hills Farms is also worth trying. They sell grass fed beef and lamb at the Berkeley Farmer's Market on Tuesday and Saturday. Selections change with seasonal availability and all of their products are top notch. Come early, they sell out of the best stuff in the first hour or two.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Morton the Mousse
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                oakjoan RE: Morton the Mousse Aug 16, 2005 05:16 PM

                I think this is the place I bought meat from a few weeks ago in my first visit to the Saturday Berk FM. I would HIGHLY recommend it. I bought bacon (very thin and narrow pieces (rashers?") which I took camping and was deelish.

                Breakfast sausages (links, not patties) - again deelish. Perfect balance of fat and meat and spices.

                Hanger steak - this was the one miss. Maybe I didn't cut it correctly but the shape (it was round) confused me...I marinated and bbqed it. I tried slicing it various ways and every way was tough. Perhaps it's supposed to be used in a pot roasty way?
                The taste was delicious, which made the toughness even more upsetting.

                I also got something else - another steak thing, which was very good and not tough. Can't remember now if it was a skirt or tri-tip.

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                chrish2a RE: precipice Aug 16, 2005 05:38 PM

                Try Wayland's Meats @ 3421 Fruitvale, Oakland. Good Well Stocked Neighborhood Butcher. If you just want one slice of meat you can get it. Went there one day looking for a cut of meat from a recipe from a "Hi Brow" food magazine. He never heard of the cut of meat, he did some checking and started laughing. It was a regular cut of beef with a $Five dollar name (& Price) and he sells it at the regular price and regular name.

                What was nice was a parent was shopping and their child wanted a cold cut, you can actually "buy just a slice"...

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                  roxie RE: precipice Aug 18, 2005 04:14 AM

                  to answer simply..Nope, there is nothing like Bryans over in the EBay. I used to live in Jordan Park and shopped at Bryans in the old Cal Mart and then when they opened their own market. Cafe Rouge might be the closest.

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                  1. re: roxie
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                    Robert Lauriston RE: roxie Aug 18, 2005 11:15 AM

                    I like Cafe Rouge more than Bryan's as far as meat goes. Bryan's also has a lot of fancy takeout / ready-to-cook stuff, a la the Pasta Shop.

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