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The Meat House, Arlington

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There are signs in the old Game Crazy in Arlington Heights, near Panera, saying that "The Meat House" is opening soon. Judging from the website I found, it seems to be an upscale chain butcher shop. Does anyone have any experience with this place? And will they be selling wine at this location?

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  1. Love The Meat House in Scarborough, Maine. Great meat, prepared foods, local products (pastas, sauces, spices, breads, baked goods, ice cream). The one here also has deli sandwiches to go. My favorite is the steak & cheese. They grill their tips outside for the sandwich.

    The two locations that I've been to in Maine always have lots of samples out at lunchtime so you can taste their products.

    And their customer service is second to none. All their employees are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. Hopefully the staff in Mass will be equally as good.

    Not sure about wine sales in Arlington. I am a Facebook fan and will ask them & let you know what they say.

    3 Replies
    1. re: delong99

      I live nearby and look forward to visiting The Meat House when it opens. They told me, via FB, it will open mid-April.

      I BBQ quite a bit so I wonder if this will become my go-to place for meat. I'm willing to pay a bit more for top-notch customer service and a knowledgeable butcher. Do you know if their prices for ribs and brisket are much higher than Costco?

      1. re: spicyivan

        I heard back - no beer or wine in Arlington. Must be Mass liquor laws.

        I'm not sure if I've seen ribs and/or brisket there or not. Their prices will most likely be higher than Costco.

        1. re: delong99

          It's Arlington-specific regulations on the beer and wine -- very difficult to get a license here. We were, until recently, a dry town. Town govt is seeing the light slowly, so perhaps Meat House will try for a license later on.

    2. Oh this is most excellent news! My family lives in York Maine and we eat a lot of Meat House meat every summer when we go up to visit. I might wish that their marinated steak tips were a bit less marinated, as the texture is a bit... squishy, but you can't argue wih the flavor of their house marinade, and the meat is definitely never tough! I was just moaning about the lack of a good butcher near North Cambridge, so this is very welcome news indeed.

      1. Hmmmm - maybe Arlington needs to further develop and market the upper stretch of Mass Ave as it seems to be turning into our own little Gourmet Ghetto - Toraya, Blue Ribbon, Penzey's, Lakota, and now this - if only that fishmonger (Cary's Catch, I think) had stayed excellent - and Berman's also has potential - kind of exciting...

        2 Replies
        1. re: rlh

          I was in maine lsat summer and we got of the meathouse tip to add to surf and turf if you closed your eyes you would not know if your eating beef chicken or pork it was just over the top marinade. just one other thing I know a guy who use to run a marnaide program for a meat company he said its the best scam in the world 12 oz meat becomes 16 oz once you add the pump he also told that some companies would use imported cow meat not nice usda steer yum I am not in anyway saying that meathouse does that you allways ask the question

          1. re: OLDCHEF

            Be carefull. The Meat House locations outside ME & NH are franchises I believe, and are hit or miss. The quality of meat and helpfullness of the staff are still very good. The big difference for me is the tips. Bigger pieces in more marinade in the northern locations. Less so (so are dryer, less tender, and less flavorfull) in MA. The one in Walpole isn't as good as the northern locations, but the one in Franklin is better.

            -----
            Meat House
            655 Main St, Walpole, MA 02081

        2. My son and I stopped in here last night. Clean, pleasant and bright space, nice selection of non-meat products, reasonable prices, several different types of marinated meats, and the sirloin strips that we got were quite good with some marbling for $11.99/lb. No chicken on the bone, though. Free sample, including tips and chicken.

          Now, for the shopping experience. We were practically accosted before we even walked in the door. A kid, probably high schooler, opened the door, welcomed us and gave us a brochure. He asked if we wanted a tour and we said no thanks (the room isn't that large!). There were employees everywhere. Every time we looked at something, someone was interrupting and touting their products and telling us how to freeze the meat, etc. It was the single most in-your-face retail shopping experience that I have ever had. We sent them an email giving them some feedback.

          I can't bring myself to go back for quite a while. Too bad, because it seems like a good addition to the area.

          13 Replies
          1. re: bear

            The tour thing was weird, huh? I had a similar reaction to the onslaught of guides. After a few minutes, I slipped out and breathed a sigh of relief. While I was there, there was an older man (customer) who was walking around muttering, "This stinks. It smells in here," and "I'm never coming back -this place won't make it." That just added to the strangeness of the whole experience.

            1. re: EllenMM

              Wow. Pretty surreal. Sure hope things calm down.

            2. re: bear

              Yeah, the tour is a bit much. Our tour guide offered such insights as "and here are the tortilla chips. Here is the mustard. This is the jam...." etc etc. Apparently, they're not certain that I can identify these items on sight.

              1. re: bear

                Nothing irks me more then when counter people ask "what can I get for you?" as soon as I come within 15 feet of the counter. As if I'm supposed to already have the inventory and prices memorized and don't care about how the product looks, so I should know exactly what I want immediately. I'll be sure to stear clear of this joint.

                1. re: LStaff

                  Dropped in this morning and yes, was enthusiastically greeted but just as quickly left alone when I declined an offer for help or information. I imagine that the new owners are anxious to please and make an impression in their new neighborhood and they can't be faulted for that. Yes, as I was perusing the deli I was asked if I needed help. Isn't that preferable to being ignored? When I answered that I was just looking, I got a smile and was left alone. Lots of samples throughout the store, yummy banana bread and s'more cake, chips, salsa, breads and vinegars, and no distinctive odor that I could detect.

                  I tend to steer clear of places that are not welcoming so I guess that means I'll be back. When someone is clearly making an effort to help I'm not offended especially when they don't persist when their offer is politely declined.

                  1. re: tweetie

                    tweetie: agreed. always like friendliness over surliness. I just thought it was amusing that the tour was so... obvious.

                    1. re: tweetie

                      I didn't mean to imply that I noticed a smell in there; I just found it amusing to watch a crotchety old man muttering loudly enough for anyone to hear. I wondered what he smelled. since I sensed no unpleasant odors.

                      1. re: tweetie

                        tweetie, it sounds like your experience was a good one, and it also sounds completely different from mine. Maybe they've gotten some feedback and given people a bit of space. I hope so because as I stated in my post, I like what they sell and find the prices reasonable and would like to go back.

                        Of course I like friendly, helpful service, and I'm certainly not put off by a bit of overly eager customer service. I also appreciate that a new business is enthusiastic and excited. This was beyond intrusive. When we walked over to the bread section, someone came from behind and tried to hard sell the breads. When we were looking at the marinated meats, we got a treatise on how superior the packaging was and how to freeze them, etc., as well as a run-down of the products Every time we looked at an item, we were interrupted and not allowed to have any private discussion about what to buy without having someone come up from behind unsolicitated to educate us. It was so over-the-top that it was comical, sort of like a Saturday Night Live skit. It almost felt that, if we hadn't bought something, we'd have people following us out of the store trying to sell us something.

                        Anyway, sounds like maybe just an unfortunate over-staffing of newly trained, eager high school boys who thought they were doing a good job and were just waiting for some customers. We'll give them a while to settle down and try them again.

                        1. re: bear

                          As the owner of The Meat House I'd like to thank everyone for their honest and open feedback. I sincerely apologize for the intrusive tours and the like. As you can imagine, we have been very excited to open in Arlington and our staff has been eager to please at the start. We have told our staff to give our patrons plenty of space and offer up help when necessary. We truly want everyone to have a relaxed and enjoyable experience when they shop at our store. We will continue to listen to what our patrons have to say and to make improvements along the way. Many thanks!

                          1. re: peter w

                            Hey, Peter, I appreciate your being open to feedback, and for posting here. I really liked both the meat and non-meat selections that you offer, and think the store will be a good addition to the area. I'll stop by soon to browse and pick up some more supplies for dinner. Best of luck!

                            1. re: peter w

                              Appreciate the post from the owner and I believe him based on our first experience there today. (We are new to the 'hood, too!) I am not a meat eater, but B is and he was salivating over everything. He is going to be a grilling fiend this summer!

                              Lots of non-meat items, with enough international flair to keep us both happy and should work for us when we're in a pinch for dinner (Asian, Tex-Mex, Italian, many different sauces, nice-looking bread right out front, small produce section). Other than getting a free sample of steak tips and asking someone about the bread, we were left to wander. B can't wait to cook up the steak tips and stuff them into a tortilla with some lime and cilantro. It was pretty crowded but not annoyingly so at noon today.

                      2. re: bear

                        Meanwhile, I was pretty much ignored last night. I went in expecting to be accosted, and, more importantly, expecting to get samples of the meats that they offer.

                        I liked what I saw, but didn't get any samples. They had one plate of sad looking carrots and some sort of dip, over by the cheese section. The meats all looked great, a lot like the Danvers Butchery, of which I'm a fan, in moderation. The gourmet foods section was scant, but had a decent selection. And the prices seemed pretty good. Not cheap, but not obscenely expensive, either.

                        I was probably just being greedy by hoping for the samples that lots of other people have mentioned.

                        1. re: Fly

                          We have been longtime fans of the Meat House in York and Wells, and am so happy that they are open in Arlington. We went in today, and were really pleased by the selection. I wasn't accosted by anyone, or offered a tour, but was served very quickly by a helpful employee. One of the things I love about the Meat House is that they are well-trained, know their meat and are very professional. There really are no good butchers around the area, unless you want to go to Whole Foods, where I have had some uneven experiences and feel like I need to sell the family jewels to pay for my purchase. The staff at the Meat House know their product, aim to please, confirm what kind of cut you want, and basically want to keep the customer coming back. I was also happy to see that they are carrying some of the same prepared foods (salsas, artichoke dip) etc from the Maine stores which are made in NH and very good and fresh. I had a chance to talk to the manager and he couldn't have been nicer and more responsive to being part of the community. Anyone who had a weird experience - go back and see it again once the opening jitters have settled down. Its a real addition to the area.

                      3. I live in the 'hood and stopped by last week for the first time. Eclectic selection but some cheese products (mascarpone, creme fraiche) that you don't find around here often, except at Wilsons. The counter person was pleasant - said they ground their own beef (not from "central") at the store when I asked, and gave me a free sample of marinated steak tips. Which were delicious, I must say!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Guido

                          FYI - Trader Joe's, up the street carries both creme fraiche and mascarpone.

                          -----
                          Trader Joe's
                          1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                        2. I went here recently and was a little underwhelmed. The selection of marinated meats is wide, but I wonder if they make their marinades in house or ship them in.

                          When I asked for "unmarinated pork tenderloin", the young guy behind the counter kept repeating it like he knew it was a meat product but he wasn't sure what each of the specific words meant. Let's just say the staff is young and enthusiastic.

                          But the meat itself was just a sealed Sysco package of two pork tenderloins (I was asked if I wanted it in a different package), for $1/lb more than at Stop & Shop.

                          1. I know this is an old thread but it seemed like a good place to post about some changes at The Meat House Arlington. I was in picking up some strip steak this weekend ($12.99 per pound, very tasty!). The staff is as nice as always, but they have recently disconnected with the franchised operation and will now be known as Prime Butcher. They are still in the process of changing over signs and other promotional materials. Not sure what that will mean for store changes, but FYI.

                            Based on Googling, http://www.franchisetimes.com/April-2... it sounds like the franchise is going under, and I'm glad that the Arlington store is going to continue to be around. Their prices are a bit on the high side but I'm always happy with the quality and I can find nice cuts that I don't always find in the supermarket (like skirt steak). Plus the staff is always very friendly.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Chris VR

                              Are they carrying a good selection of prime meat in keeping with the name? I'm assuming the strips you bought were not prime at $12.99/lb, but I am on my way there if they were.

                              I haven't been there in awhile, but it is a convenient option if in the area. I'm glad they're sticking around.

                              1. re: black_lab

                                I don't think so... I think the changes are just happening, but I'd expect the same with that name. We could really use an actual butcher that consistently stocks Prime cuts.

                              2. re: Chris VR

                                I'm not surprised the chain is suffering. They have nice people and some nice product but I thought the implementation of their concept was not well done. One example is they rely on talking over a traditional tall refrigerator case instead of re-thinking how to make customers used to picking out shrink-wrapped meat comfortable. They sell a mix of goods that, to my eye, made little sense, along with a weird selection of cheese. And my wife noted she wouldn't buy chicken from them because they didn't have plain whole chicken, just chicken that was marinated in some way. That sent a classic mixed message: are they a butcher or a packager of pre-made stuff? And once I asked about calves' liver and they - very nicely - said they could get one in and sell me as much as I wanted. Like most customers, I want stuff now and to be told that they'd be bringing in and perhaps even wasting an entire liver sat wrong.

                                That said, they carry good meat.

                                1. re: lergnom

                                  One thing that was mentioned is that moving away from the franchise will give them more flexibility, so that sounds promising on the chicken front.

                                  I grew up going to a small independent butcher, and am used to talking over the tall refrigerator counter for my meat. It doesn't seem strange or offputting to me at all, but you make a good point that people raised on only getting shrinkwrapped meat from the shelves in a supermarket might feel a bit uncomfortable with the setup. J. Pace & Sons seems to be pretty successful with that setup with their clientele (but many of their clientele probably grew up with Pace's!) They do have a lot of staff around the store and not just behind the counter, but then you have to strike the balance with people not feeling like they are TOO friendly and in your face.