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The Local Butcher - Excellent new butcher in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto

I've been waiting for months for this place to open and it's exceeded expectations.

Owned and run by Chez Panisse alums. Specializing in local, pastured meats. Staff of extremely knowledgeable and experienced butchers and chefs. Beautiful space. They buy whole animals break them down in-house, dry age their beef, make their own charcuterie.

Real differentiating factor is that they cut the meat to order. You can choose thickness and it means everything is incredibly fresh.

They sell beef, lamb, pork, rabbit, duck, chicken. Forgot to ask about goat.

We tried:

Lamb leg steak on the bone. The best lamb I've had from a butcher shop. Incredibly tender and clean tasting.

Pork ribs. Incredible. On par with Becker Lane. Better than Berkshire and Marin Sun Farm.

Since they only buy whole animals you can order just about any cut you like. I'm looking forward to trying Cosentino's recipe for lamb neck.

Prices are in line with other places that sell pastured meats: Marin Sun Farm, Cafe Rouge, Prather Ranch, etc.

The also offer a sandwich of the day ($8) which was very good, though the meat is the real draw.

Truly fabulous addition to the neighborhood. Check them out. You'll want to come back again and again.

Soft opening. I think they close at 6. They'll close at 7 weekdays/6 weekends when they move to regular hours. Close Monday. Located at Cedar and Shattuck, next to Barneys.

http://www.facebook.com/thelocalbutch...

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  1. Thanks for reporting the opening. It sounds like the setup is such that you could get practically any cut to order in advance. Do you have any idea what the chances of, without reserving ahead of time, what the chances of getting what is to me a relatively normal, but oddly not easy to find whole pork belly or shoulder is on walk in?
    And I assume it is too early to tell, but based on the facebook page, the sandwich of the days are cooked fresh meats. Do you know what sort of curing they're going for?
    I'm intrigued and will probably stop by some time this weekend to find out (though I still love my nearby Maggiano's).

    1 Reply
    1. re: ...tm...

      They can basically get you anything if you pre-order, and they expect to have just about everything available when you walk in. I'd call ahead though - for example, they didn't have duck liver this week because they were using them all to make pate.

      I know they plan to do some charcuterie, but am unsure of the extent.

    2. They'll never replace Lenny's.

      4 Replies
      1. re: oldunc

        Lenny's was good, but this new place sounds promising.

        I still run into Lennie's younger butcher from time to time. He was the one that flirted with all the women.

        1. re: chocolatetartguy

          I stopped in - hadn't really thought about the place, and when I drove by to do other business, I saw it, and thought I'd check it out.

          The first thing I noticed in the case were the cross cut short ribs - "asado de tira" style. I never thought I'd see grass-fed asado de tira in a butcher case in the US. This is what I often order when I'm in Buenos Aires. The cut in the case was a standard asado cut, but I wanted to try my skills with a special (thicker) cut - so they cut some to order, I specified the thickness, and voila, it is now at home, awaiting to see if I have the skills of an Argentine parrilla-master.

          Also, not knowing what I was going to have for lunch, I bought the sandwich of the day (pork and melon on foccacia), which was tasty. $8.

          Meat pricing was interesting - it is based not on specific cut, but what portion of the animal it comes from (basically, in 1/3s).

          1. re: lmnopm

            Could you please enlighten us on what the 3 price levels were?

            1. re: tpc

              As of Sept 18th:

              Animal/lb: Front, middle, rear, ground
              Beef: $8, 16, 11, 7
              Pork: $6, 8, 7, 5.50
              Lamb: $16, 18, 16, 9
              Chicken: $5 whole or halved
              Turkey: $8, available ground too
              Duck: $8, available ground too
              Rabbit: $10
              Quail: $7
              Squab: $10.50

        1. re: arktos

          I'll be buying my meat there in the future. Everything is fresh and the people behind the counter really know their stuff. The priciness depends on the cut you're getting (front, middle, or back of animal). I got pork tenderloin for $8/lb. It's $10/lb at Berkeley Bowl and $4.49/lb at Safeway, and it was excellent quality, so I'm happy with the value.

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          Berkeley Bowl
          2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

          1. re: hyperbowler

            The Local Butcher Shop

            Shop Information
            Hours:
            Monday: CLOSED
            Tuesday – Friday: 10:00am – 7:00pm
            Saturday and Sunday: 10:00am – 6:00pm

            Phone Number:
            510-845-6328 (MEAT)

            Location:
            1600 Shattuck Ave. Ste. 120
            Berkeley, CA 94611

            -----
            The Local Butcher Shop
            1600 Shattuck Ave #120, Berkeley, CA 94709

        2. This is definitively the best food establishment to open in Berkeley in the past decade. Possibly the best East Bay establishment to open in the past decade. Possibly the best place to buy meat in the entire Bay Area (I certainly haven't been somewhere better).

          The Mrs. and I have been shopping here 2-3 times a week since it opened. Quality of the meat is incredible. The beef, lamb, pork, goat, and duck is all high-end restaurant quality and impeccably fresh. Nobody else has this selectionof of cuts - since they buy whole animals you can get whatever you want. The butchers are truly masters of their craft and they take customer service very seriously.

          The charcuterie is wonderful - selection has expanded since they open. They poached the charcuterie chef from Oenotri in Napa. I'm particularly fond of the chicken giblet confit - sauteed with some broccoli or haricot verts makes for a fabulous side dish. Head cheese is spectacular. And I love the little touches like the fact that I can buy a jar of delicious, frozen demi-glace for $3. Better than the Dopo stand at the farmers' market? I dunno. Different, and very, very, good.

          I find the pricing to be perfectly reasonable. Yes, you can find cheaper meat elsewhere. But there are plenty of places selling meat of a lower caliber for a similar or higher price.

          I expect them to be open for a long, long time. They have filled a gap in the Berkeley food scene that we have all been begging for. For anyone who is serious about meat, it will only take one visit to make this a regular stop in your shopping routine.

          12 Replies
          1. re: Morton the Mousse

            Do they have any extraordinary minced or ground meats?

            I would imagine they would.

            1. re: Mission

              I expect they will grind anything to order for you. They're super customer focused and they have the equipment.

              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                morton, is sketch ice cream still around?

                where do you hit up now since socca is gone and a couple others for restaurant eats?

                also, is their anywhere to get decent fried chicken and waffles in berkeley, and is that place in berkeley that serves TV Dinners retro style but made more delicious still around?

                thanks.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Thank you Robert. So i'm thinking Sketch is no longer around when I did a control F on the ice cream favorites link?

                    1. re: kevin

                      Pho Bar on Euclid has Sketch tart fro-yo

                      1. re: drewskiSF

                        wow, cool, they just dole that one flavor out over there???

                        interesting...

                        1. re: kevin

                          yep. with or without fruit. the menu says it's a "TPB Exclusive!"
                          http://www.thephobar.com/food_sweets....

                      1. re: wolfe

                        No longer relevant since RL corrected his Morton the Moose comment.

                    2. re: kevin

                      You're thinking of 900 Grayson. Still around serving fried chicken and waffles and the food hasn't changed.

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                      900 Grayson
                      900 Grayson St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                1. re: Morton the Mousse

                  The headcheese did turn out to be excellent. WHat I liked about it is it wasn't salty. Too much just tastes of salt. What was spectacular was that despite my complaint that I was told it couldn;'t be sliced in the slicer, the butcher hand-sliced it. That was the most impressive thing I've ever seen ... thin, even hand-hewn slices.

                  If people like the texture of Vietnamese headcheese it reminded me of that due to more crunch.

                2. Wow, amazing place. We asked for suet to make mincemeat, the butcher came back with a whole piece with a gorgeous kidney still attached, so I got that too. Also got a couple of perfect-looking pig spleens, which I've been trying to find for ages to make a recipe that Fergus Henderson enthuses about in his first book. The spleens had the caul fat still attached, so I guess I'll make some crepinettes or something.

                  They're taking orders for Thanksgiving turkeys from BN Ranch. I asked about mutton, he said they can special-order it but it's a hard sell so one would have to get the whole thing.

                  If you walk down the little hall on the side there's a window into the walk-in.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Did you happen to catch the price on the Turkeys?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        The broad breast white turkeys are $8 lb
                        The heritage black turkeys are $12 lb

                        1. re: rworange

                          "Broad breast" are not modern Frankenturkeys, they're heritage breeds with somewhat bigger breasts.

                          1. re: rworange

                            That's pretty expensive, Marin Sun Farms has heritage birds from BN Ranch for $7/lb - nearly half the price.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Heritage to Heritage is 7/12

                                That is, if you get one on the upper end of the weight range.

                                MSF's prices
                                Heritage Turkey, 20 lb. + $195.72
                                Heritage Turkey, 15-20 lb. $139.79 20lb = $7/lb
                                Heritage Turkey, 10-15 lb. $104.85 15lb = $7/lb
                                Heritage Turkey, 7-10 lb. $69.90 10lb = $7/lb

                                1. re: drewskiSF

                                  Wow, I'll have to verify TLBS's prices. If you hover your mouse over the ?, MSF's heritage birds are all $7 a pound:

                                  http://marinsunfarms.csaware.com/reta...

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I had the butcher write the prices down at the TLBS and they are exactly as stated

                                    $8 lb for the white turkey

                                    $12 lb for the black turkey

                                    They didn't say anything about a discount based on weight, but you might inquire about that.