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Grumpy Old Man - Staubitz Guy is really irritating

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While I have never had a problem with the quality of their meat (maybe just their prices), I had a really irritating experience with the guy who answers the phone (is that John Staubitz?). I ordered a large beef tenderloin and asked them to wrap it in pancetta (thats the way we used to get it at the Florence meat market when we lived in Manhattan and, OK, maybe thats not for purists, but we like the way it tastes). On the phone, he asked me if I knew what I was doing and whether I had a recipe - implying that if someone else had written it in a book, it was OK to have it wrapped. He was pretty aggressive in saying that no one in their right mind would ever wrap a tenderloin with pancetta. Then, when my wife went to pick it up, he literally harangued her for 10 minutes, took our money and then started it up all over again. Wouldn't let it drop. Now, as to the merits of whether its ok to wrap or not, I really feel like that's a personal choice. However, I think he probably knows less about customer service than he does about being a butcher. Is this an outlier in behavior? Do we have any alternatives in the neighborhood? Is the Brooklyn Heights prime meat in the St. George any good? thanks for your help

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  1. Los Paisanos on Smith Street is v. good.

    1. Billy Bob-- I really respect what you wrotel no one likes to be harangued. THAT SAID, I just love it when someone--the fishmonger, the butcher, the salad vendor--cares enough about what he/she sells to argue passionately. Most of my own conversations consist of me asking questions (in, I swear, a not-obnoxious way) about various products and getting blank stares and shrugs and the occasional boiler-plate answer. Since the guy at Staubitz (which serves GREAT meat) wasn't The Soup Nazi and didn't refuse your business, I'd say listen to what he said, give it back to him if you want, and be happy that there are still people in the world (or at least Brooklyn) who want to engage with their customers.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Laddie Din

        I am of the same mind. I appreciate the fact that Staubitz really cares about its product and its customers.

        One has to always remember this fact: your butcher at a market like Staubitz is a professional. He knows more about meat than you do. Take the opportunity to learn, ask questions.

        The one question I would have asked is what is the downside of wrapping a large beef roast in Pancetta? What is the reasoning behind his cautionary statement?

        Heights Prime Meats on Clark Street is an excellent butcher. They have a much smaller selection than Staubitz, and I find their prices are a little higher. I shop at both.

        I don't understand the comment about Staubitz prices being a problem. It is NOT the same quality meat or poultry you get elsewhere, like a supermarket.

        A pound of ground beef from the supermarket, after browning and releasing all the fat and water, is much more expensive per pound than the top quality beef from Staubitz or Heights Prime Meats, which has no added water or fat. Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

        The same quality meat or poultry would be at least 25-50% more in the City.

        1. re: Fleur

          Thanks or your comments. Unfortunately for him, there was no justification or cautionary statement - I would have respected that. No, it was a matter of taste. Frankly, he does know a lot more about meat than I do. But he knows a lot less than the people at Florence in the Village (their idea initially). He did not give me or my wife the chance to talk. He just kept going on about how stupid it was to wrap tenderloin in bacon. Frankly, I don't think that his behavior is appropriate under any circumstance. Additionally, his prices are high. In your comments, you assumed that I was comparing Staubitz to a grocery store, which - I agree - would not be appropriate either for the difference in quality or service. However, Staubitz prices are at least 20% higher than Florence Meat Market despite its apparent real estate advantage (Village versus Brooklyn). I think their quality is better and they dont harangue you. I guess I will have to find someplace else.

          1. re: BillyBob

            You might try Heights Prime Meats on Clark Street, a few doors down from the Subway.

            The brothers are experienced Old World style butchers, and are very pleasant and helpful.

            Their prices are a little higher on some things, a little lower on others.

            I find the quality to be excellent.

        2. re: Laddie Din

          Absoutly not, Its ok for them to say their piece and then let it drop. If they continue to bully you as to your preparation they are out of line.

        3. I go out of my way not to shop at Staubitz--have found Los Paisanos to be as good and in many ways more interesting. I too shopped at Florance and others in the "Village" and found them to be superior to Staubitz. I had a number of bad experiances with rack-of-lamb from Staubitz. When not looking for something special like your tenderloin, there is fantastic meat to be found at the Green Market @ GAP on the Sat. morning.

          1. I happened upon Los Paisanos (Smith btwn. Wycoff/Bergen) while trying to find Staubitz, and have never been back to Staubitz since. They age their own beef; break down hogs; always have veal bones, if you're into that kind of thing; are open seven days a week; and the people are really, really friendly. I think they deliver in the neighborhood (not sure; I live in the Slope). I really think the place is first rate.

            3 Replies
            1. re: SaltPeter

              We also go to Los Paisanos over Staubitz for most things. About the only thing I go to Staubitz for is whole chicken, as I believe they have more varieties of bird (in particular, a canadian bird that I tend to buy).

              Other than that, I tend to find LP friendlier than Staubitz. Don't get me wrong, the LP guys can once in a while get a little cranky when it's crowded. But they really know you by face very quickly, and even remember how you like your meat prep'd. The guys at Staubitz do a great job on a bone-in pork loin for instance, and take a good 10 mins trimming it and tying it for me so that the bone falls effortlessly away when its done and ends up with a beautiful roast for dinner parties.

              1. re: Nehna

                As another Los Paisanos fan I'll mention one advantage it has over Staubitz that nobody's brought up -- it's cheaper. (I do like Staubitz, though, and that somewhat cranky old guy, though I might not if I'd had the original poster's experience.)

                1. re: Chris E

                  I have to SECOND los Paisanos!! Mike has been the owner from his Dad for almost 40 years, their prices are fantastic and if anyone has been going in lately they have really upped the ante. Quail , pheasant and Venison and duck fat have all become available, the wide variety of spices, olive oils and other "gourmet" products have beocme numerous while old school "family" packages of household staples like butter, milk and meats are always available. Yes, Stuabitz has "Prime" grade steaks but they are so expensive that aside from the christmas roast who can afford it? LP has plenty of homemade sausages that are amazing, plus plenty of staff to help and they DO remember you!

            2. There's no excuse for that kind of treatment, I don't care how passionate you are about your product. I'm a regular customer at Los Paisanos -- and yes they do deliver, even small orders -- and have found them to be flexible in the extreme. I've tried a number of esoteric recipes, from the likes of Fergus Henderson, etc, and have always found the guys at Los Paisanos to be unblinking and happy to give you what you want.

              Last year, I ordered a whole pig from a vendor at the Farmer's Market -- I emphasized it had to be 12 pounds or less to fit in my oven. Instead, they dropped a pig the size of my 7-year-old son on my doorstep. I called Los Paisanos and asked if they would butcher it for me. They said yes, even though it was minutes to closing time. Peter whittled that pig down to size with a few graceful strokes. I asked him what I could pay him, he said whatever I thought was appropriate. I handed him $40 and he said no, that's too much, and gave me back 20.

              They won me over for life.

              2 Replies
              1. re: rawcuzima

                I went to Los Paisanos once on a friend's recommendation and was ignored while other people cut ahead of me. That never happens at Staubitz--the other customer are always gracious enough to ask "Were you next?"
                As for unsolicited advice from the older gentleman, I believe the years may be taking their toll and I notice they try to keep him out of the line of fire.

                1. re: bzar

                  I've been going to Los Paisanos for 5 years now and have never had such problems (granted they know us quite well now, but that wasn't always the case of course). The prices are better than Staubitz too.

              2. as a Brit but long-time New Yorker I find certain sections of food shopping here prodigiously expensive, and meat, fish and cheese are three of them. There is no comparison in terms of freshness, variety and quality between here and the UK - and its SEVERAL TIMES more expensive here in many categories. To buy a rabbit, a duck, a leg of lamb, offal, sausages, a pound of good cheese, several types of ham - all are eye-wateringly expensive and the choice is rotten. I don't understand it .

                1. I don't see much difference between wrapping a whole beef tenderloin in pancetta and wrapping a filet in bacon.

                  1. I can't help but wonder why, if you have such strong feelings about wrapping meat in pancetta, you wouldn't prefer to do it yourself?

                    How's a butcher who's never performed this task for you supposed to know just what you want?

                    1. I have known him for years. He is really a nice guy- always a bit of a character and now just getting a bit elderly. So, since we are all going to eventually become a bit elderly and understanding that with that sometimes comes a hardening of some traits I suggest you not worry too much about his "aggressive" speaking his mind about the pancetta. In Brooklyn I like to think we are a bit more open to looking at each other as individuals and in a less utilitarian manner than in Manhattan- at least that was what I have always liked about Brooklyn. BUT, was the meat good?? Paisanos, for example, is ok, but the quality no where near Stuabitz

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Mangita

                        I went to go in there last year with my shopping cart and I was told I could not bring it into their empty store. My cart was loaded with groceries and I was told to leave it on the sidewalk. As a life long Brooklynite I know that leaving goods in a cart with wheels on the sidewalk is not a good idea. I left and never went back.