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Hilltop Steakhouse Butcher Shop

h
headmaster Jun 8, 2009 06:52 AM

I started this in a different thread (about flap meat) but think it's worthy of its own topic. (I did search, and found none dedicated specifically to it, only offhand remarks.)

Hilltop's butcher shop strikes me as an underrated, underappreciated place. It's not a full-service butcher in the traditional sense. But the staff is fairly helpful, if not always overly friendly. (They lose points on knowledge: two people I asked both did not even know of the existence of flat iron steak, though one of them seemed annoyed enough that he didn't know about it that he might perhaps go in the back and look it up. The other guy clearly didn't give a ****) They will help you out with customizing large cuts if you ask, even if they sometimes grumble about it.

The prices range from slightly above average to tremendous. Saturday, for instance, they had Flank Steak for $3.99/lb, flap meat steaks for $4.99 and Filet Mignon steaks for $6.99. 85% lean ground sirloin was available in family pack bags (3+ lbs) for $2.69. I've had bad meals in the restaurant (twice only, because I'll never do it again!) but I have yet to buy a bad piece of meat in the shop.

Additionally, they carry DiLuigi's sausage at a better price than the grocery stores. And Sat. they had al Fresco sausages for $1.99 for a 12 oz pkg, half the grocery store price. And they carry peking dumplings made by the Chinese Spaghetti Factory, which I otherwise have a hard time finding, except at the 88 type stores, none of which are convenient to my house. And those dumplings are a family favorite.

In short, very good to great prices, god to very good quality food, and moderately helpful staff.

  1. StriperGuy Jun 8, 2009 07:30 AM

    Count me a fan too. You have to be selective. I got a killer Rib Eye there a while back for I think $5.99/pound.

    I may be wrong, by I think the term "Flat Iron" is a bit of a trendy new name for a cut that has been around for a while.

    1 Reply
    1. re: StriperGuy
      Gio Jun 8, 2009 07:39 AM

      Apparently the Flat Iron steak is a non-traditional cut and relatively new. Here's a link that describes the whys & wherefors.

      http://confessionsofabutcher.blogspot...

    2. yumyum Jun 8, 2009 07:49 AM

      That's a great price on flank steak -- one of my summertime grilling faves. Thanks for the tip.

      1 Reply
      1. re: yumyum
        m
        mwk Jun 8, 2009 10:33 AM

        I was at the Weymouth store about two weeks ago, and they had Skirt Steak and Flank Steak on sale for $2.99/lb, which is a great price. Skirt steak on the grill, with some fresh chimichuri sauce is the best :)

      2. macca Jun 8, 2009 07:52 AM

        Have not been there in years- but I used to like to get their boneless turkey breast. Hole fresh breast- great cut into tips and marinated for the grill. Also used to like their coffee- will have to make a trip by soon,. Thanks for the reminder.

        1. 9
          9lives Jun 8, 2009 09:39 AM

          I've been cooking a few flat iron steaks. They're top blade with the connective tissue trimmed away..a little chew but great flavor. Cut across the grain.

          I don't know if it's a new cut or just a new name. I know I went into a shop and paid $5.99/lb for "upper top blade???" and a few weeks later it was called "flat iron"...and $8.99/lb..same cut..:)

          If you get into Chinatown, the Chinese Spaghetti Factory is on Essex St, a few doors from Chau Chau City. They'll sell their dumplings to the public..bags of 50 and larger

          3 Replies
          1. re: 9lives
            e
            emilief Jun 8, 2009 10:53 AM

            When I was at Speed's for a dog last week, I noticed a warehouse called the Chinese Spaghetti Factory. Is this the same people with the retail store on Essex Street????

            1. re: emilief
              9
              9lives Jun 8, 2009 11:05 AM

              No, I don't think so.
              I made an error. It's Ho Toy Noodle Co that's on Essex..not much of a store..doorway with a man or woman at adesk and a walk in freezer.

              Chinese Spaghetti is in Newmarket near Speed's. I don't know if they sell retail.

              1. re: 9lives
                jgg13 Jun 8, 2009 02:17 PM

                Their product is in a lot of freezer cases at asian markets

          2. b
            bluesjack Jun 8, 2009 10:28 AM

            I'm in the minority here it seems..I went to the Hilltop for years but found that they went downhill. I find their steaks wildly inconsistant.
            I've had very good luck at the new BJ's in Revere

            11 Replies
            1. re: bluesjack
              j
              janzy Jun 8, 2009 11:49 AM

              I have to agree with bluesjack about BJ's for meats, I 've never been dissapointed.

              1. re: janzy
                n
                negrazer Jun 8, 2009 01:27 PM

                Hill top is indeed wildly inconsistent. Why? They sell ungraded no roll beef. If you know what you're looking for sometimes you can come out of there with prime quality beef. If you don't know what you're looking for, you can walk out of there with utter crap.

                I would say it's about 30% of the time that I get lucky enough to find something really, really good. So, I stop often with a cooler in my car on the way into work in Boston. 70% of the time I walk away with nothing appalled with the crap that is on their shelves.

                I will buy a whole rib eye or strip loin roughly a couple of times a month and portion it out myself to extended family.

                For casual meat buyers who don't know what to look for, sticking with a BJ's or Supermarket that offer graded selections is the way to go though.

                1. re: negrazer
                  StriperGuy Jun 8, 2009 02:13 PM

                  I think you need to tell us when you are going to be at Hilltop next and give us an education. ;-)

                  1. re: negrazer
                    Bob MacAdoo Jun 8, 2009 04:15 PM

                    I understand a little bit about grading, but to really understand it, one needs to be with somebody who is well trained in the art/science. An old friend of my interned at a kosher butcher in NYC during college. He buys for me once a decade when he visits from down south. Always is a great experience.

                    1. re: negrazer
                      n
                      NorthShoreFoodie Jun 9, 2009 04:32 PM

                      Let the buyer beware... If the meat is not labeled Choice or Prime don't buy it. Always avoid no roll or Select as they lesser grades (very little marbling).

                      If you think they are mis-labeling lesser cuts of meat contact the USDA. They take it very seriously. An acquaintance of mine from my days working in New Market Square actually went to prison for doing it.

                      btw I worked in NMS in the early 80s when nobody knew who Speed was. At most there would be three to four people in line. I didn't know how good I had it.

                  2. re: bluesjack
                    Bob MacAdoo Jun 8, 2009 04:13 PM

                    I also agree with bluesjack on the quality at HT buctcher. I went for years until I realized that I never enjoyed the inexpensive cuts there as much as I enjoyed the more expensive cuts I got at Pace's or Savenor's.

                    I do use BJs for all my bulk pit 'que buys. Boston butts, briskets, and big racks of ribs, all have worked well for me at the wholesale club.

                    1. re: Bob MacAdoo
                      StriperGuy Jun 8, 2009 04:53 PM

                      How much do they charge for butts? Local super market has em for $1.79 to $2.29 a pound depending.

                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        s
                        sinned61 Jun 8, 2009 09:17 PM

                        Bone IN Butts (the best) at BJ's yesterday were $1.20/lb

                        1. re: sinned61
                          s
                          sablemerle Jun 8, 2009 09:48 PM

                          Bought a 9 1/2 pounder (bone-in, cryovacced) at Market Basket in Burlington last week for $1.09 a lb. It frequently goes on sale there for .89 a lb (always, it seems, when my freezer is already full, natch).

                          1. re: sablemerle
                            Bob MacAdoo Jun 9, 2009 06:38 AM

                            Last time I bought a butt was May 2008. Price was .89 cents a pound, on sale. I bought 8 pounder, smoked it for 12 hours with Carolina rub and topped it with a nice vinegar-based sauce. Good eats.

                            1. re: sablemerle
                              s
                              sinned61 Jun 9, 2009 07:22 PM

                              I've never seen BONE IN at Market Basket? I must look again. Thanks

                    2. Essex County Jun 9, 2009 08:40 AM

                      I used to go there a lot more frequently. Haven't been for 6 months or so. I've always had good luck with their whole tenderloins. They aren't trimmed as well as those from a full service butcher but are half the price. I trim and cut it myself. Since tenderloin is such a mild piece of meat, it may not differ as much across grades as other cuts. I've gotten sirloins and other cuts that have been just ok.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Essex County
                        MeffaBabe Jun 10, 2009 09:45 AM

                        I frequent HT for my steaks/roasts. I usually buy the whole sirloin and bring it home to trim/cut into steaks myself. I find that when they trim it they sometimes go overboard! I always go there for my big holiday roasts. I have always had great rib roasts and tenerloins from there. I won't buy my steaks from anywhere else because the other stores you can't even chew them they are so tough. When I get the whole sirloin roasts I usually pay on average 65.)) (approx 3.99-4.99 ppd) and get about 12-14 one and half in steaks- about $5 per steak...

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