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Jun 26, 2007 09:07 AM

butcher shop - opinions?

I really want to like this place. I have been several times over the last year and each time I leave disappointed. I have had rubbery gnocchi bolognese, a tastless salad with weird dehydrated vegetables and some awfully cooked steaks and also found hair in my food two of the last three visits. The management of the restaurant has to be the most unfriendly and unprofessional I have seen. The space itself is beautiful and I do enjoy having a glass of wine (albeit overpriced) with an antipasto with a friend. But I am wondering what all the hype is about.

On the other hand, I love B&G for it's beautifully prepared seafood dishes and excellent service, especially in summer on the patio.

I am hoping people here can help me change my mind and give it another shot because there isn't anything else like it in the city.

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  1. I think that you'll find the hype is just hype. It brought a huge crowd of suburbans that have turned it from a jewel of a wine bar and butcher shop into an overpriced and not always good restaurant.

    I've joined the locals in staying away.

    That wasn't always the case. Not long after it opened, I used to enjoy it for exactly what it was supposed to be. They had a wonderful selection of a few wines that I'd never heard of before, and bartenders who could tell you every detail about them to help decide. To accompany them, they had some impeccably prepared small plates, mostly from the butcher counter. And although it was a premium, it was worth it.

    One day everything changed, and the original Butcher Shop was no more. All that remained was their hype.

    1. I like the food and wine here, but it has gotten steadily more expensive, to the point where it's no longer a value. Like kbw18, I think the original small-plates concept was far superior, and as a neighbor, I didn't appreciate the fact that they pitched one concept when they needed their beer/wine license approval, and changed it utterly not too long afterward.

      I still enjoy it periodically, but prefer to go during the day. I find it an uncomfortable mob scene most evenings.

      16 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        OK, I have to trot out my usual apologist lines. (Um, my apologies to the regulars.)

        I agree that Butcher Shop is pretty overpriced.

        That said, I'm not sure there's a place in Boston where the rank-and-file are more knowledgeable about the wine offerings---and a fairly interesting and challenging list of offerings, at that. I never feel like they're rattling off a memorized description. I trust their recommendations. Cat Silirie's "gruner veltliner of the day" is a charming, quirky idea.

        It's a weird food menu. I hardly ever get the expensive hot dog, which some people love but many people who are not thrilled with the place always point to as the travesty, as though it were the only thing on the menu. It's a gimmick, not indicative. I love the way they do foie gras (liver mousse is to die for), the confiture condiments are inspired, the salads are reliably interesting, and the Irish soda bread served with salted butter and honey is a nice touch. The cassoulet, when they have it, is one of the best I've ever had.

        I think it's a lovely setting to while away a Sunday afternoon.

        And... CURTAIN.

        1. re: wittlejosh

          Count me as a among the lovers of the hot dog. Now that Speed's are $7, $13 for basically a giant outstanding house made sausage with home made chips and homemade condiments and baby pickles doesn't seem like a travesty. It ain't no sabrett hot dog, people.

          1. re: tamerlanenj

            I COULDNT AGREE MORE!!! Everything on CHOWHOUND has become about price!!! VALUE = CHEAP more often than not. This should be called bargain hunter chowhound. I don't want to spend a fortune when I go out but i certainly can appreciate a good product and would be happy to spend a few extra dollars to get it. If you go out and nickle and dime how do you actually enjoy what you are eating??? if you don't like to spend a little money when you go out, there are plenty of CHEAP places. Probably not all CHOWworthy

            1. re: bowmore36

              I have to disagree with you: I haven't been accused lately of pinching my dining pennies, and I and many other Hounds routinely post about $150-250/head meals here, as well as middle and low-end stuff. Value does not equate to cheap. There are bad and good values at every price point.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                mc... my comments weren't directed at you. there are a lot of people on here. it's just far too often people talk about price, not price/value. and comments about feeling "not full" when they leave a restaurant. Well, thats what McDonalds and The Cheasecake Factory will do to you and it's cheap but I'd rather eat a quality dish without feeling like I need to stop at 7_eleven for some mylanta....

                1. re: bowmore36

                  Prezza will also leave you filled to the gills. Big portions don't necessarily equate to poor quality, and nano-portions don't necessarily equate to good quality. I have a friend with a pretty dainty appetite who actually stopped for a pizza on the way home after dinner at Clio. I won't go to restaurants like that because I think THEY'RE cheap (and pretentious). If you eat an appetizer, entree and dessert at any restaurant, you should feel sated. And doggie bags are nice once in a while.

              2. re: bowmore36

                There's nothing with wrong with cheap. I thought the half bottle of 1983 Chateaux Margaux that I drank earlier this year was very cheap at $200, especially since whole bottles auction for ~$600-$700 or more. It's all relative.

                1. re: limster

                  limster... Great Point! it's all relative!!

                  1. re: limster

                    I bet you wanted a bigger portion though! :-)

                    1. re: sailormouth

                      As much as I love Margaux, the half bottle is just about right, as I'm not a huge drinker. Besides, that's about all I can afford, had to save up for that.

                    2. re: limster

                      Talk about cheap - look what wine (chardonnay) just won an award over an 120 buck bottle - TWO BUCK CHUCK!

                      1. re: taxi

                        It just goes to show, not everything that's cheap is bad, and not everything that's expensive is good (though I do find it a bit shocking that TJ's Charles Shaw Chardonnay--Two Buck Chuck--won!).

                    3. re: bowmore36

                      I agree that a $13 hot dog of quality meat, made on premises and served in a very nice restaurant is a bargain. That being said, it's probably the only item on the Butcher Shop's menu that is worth the price/taste ratio. I think the place is just plain overpriced for what you get... especially the wine.

                      One nod I'll give the place is to the "shop" itself. The butchers I've dealt with were great, very knowledgable and would do whatever they could to get the cut I'm looking for. The meat is generally north of what I'd like to pay for it, but seeing as it's often the only walking-distance option for me to get a quality, hard-to-find cut of meat, I'll take it when I need it.

                      1. re: heWho

                        I've been four times over the last year or so. Twice we sat at a table, and twice at the bar. I have to say that my experiences sitting at the bar were considerably better. I was undecided about what to drink with the aforementioned hot dog and the very helpful bartender poured me tastes of a Rose and a Zweigelt to choose between. My DC had two of the glasses that were the red wine specials of the day. Both were recommended to try with his meal- I believe it was the ravioli gnudi in a duck ragu. It's one of those places where I assume the bill will be mostly wine, and I've had some delicious wine there.

                        My only minor quibble is that it's virtually impossible to take my veggie friends there. I understand the theme of the restaurant, but it would be nice if there were one option.

                        1. re: SouthEndGirl4

                          You mean like the following?

                          Chilled Corn Soup pickled morels, chive creme fraiche
                          Siena Farms Mixed Greens
                          Wild Arugula & Fresh Burrata Vermont honey
                          Chickpea Fritters mint, Greek yogurt
                          The Butcher Shop "Tater Tots" spicy ketchup

                          Or do you mean a main?

                2. re: MC Slim JB

                  I'm not sure it was ever a value.

                3. If you've been several times and not liked it, why do you feel you have to change your mind about it? There are lots of places you don't have to force yourself to like.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Joanie

                    I guess I want to like it because of the concept plus it is around the corner for me. I keep thinking that Barbara Lynch will turn it around since it seems to be the weak link of her restaurants. No. 9 is amazing to me as is B&G, I just wish Butcher Shop would live up to her name. But you are right, there are so many other places I could give my hard earned money to and not have to deal with awful attitude when I send back food that has been grossly mishandled.
                    Still, I do love the wine selection, if only they would let you sit at the bar and drink instead of standing around the counter.

                    1. re: ghettochic

                      I don't believe Barbara Lynch thinks there's anything about The Butcher Shop that needs fixing: the place is doing a booming business. As long as it remains packed every night, I don't expect she'll tinker with it.

                  2. I'm still happy there early in the evening early in the week. It's not a regular for me because, for what it is, I do think it's a tad expensive, that being said I've been in No. 9 on weeknights lately and dropping a lot there.

                    The weekends, as another poster mentioned, gets pretty lively as a destination spot.

                    1. Tried BS for the first time on Saturday (visting from Toronto). I thought this place was great, but I only opted for an app and a glass of wine. Was tempted to stay for the rabbit pappardelle, but was scared off... quite frankly this thread contributed to that trepidation.

                      I definitely hope to return to BS... should I stick around for pasta next time - or was a snack and a drink the way to go?