After a long soft opening weekend, and a few days of recovering, reassessing and polishing up odds and ends, Bobby Benjamin’s newest restaurant concept, Butchertown Grocery, will open to paying customers for lunch and dinner today. Tomorrow, he will serve a special thanksgiving meal, and then it is off to the races. Since we were among those invited over for the soft opening tryout, it is appropriate to say a few things about the thoroughly enjoyable experience last Friday night.
The interior space on the corner of Washington St. and Buchanan St. in Butchertown, catty-corner from Copper and Kings Distillery and the Play event space, is brick-walled and tile-floored, broken up into several dining spaces, with tables and booths and a bar along the west side. The effect is modern and sort-of-rustic, very appealing, but also somewhat noisy. Upstairs is another large bar and performance space, which we did not venture up to see after dinner.
The soft opening limited menu highlighted some of the regular menu’s top dishes. My wife chose to start with the shaved Brussels sprouts salad, the sprouts shaved fine, mixed with diced apple and dried fruit, and a light, refreshing dressing. She had to fend off a couple of efforts to take away her not-quite-finished plate so she could scrape it clean. She then went for the steak frites, a dish I seldom assay at home. The hanger steak was flavorful, cooked medium rare, and the thin-cut fries were crispy outside and mellow within, very good indeed.
I started with the grilled octopus, a hard choice between it and the rotisserie pork belly, the kinds of dishes that call to me whenever I see them. The octopus came as a salad, grilled to be properly chewy, and then chilled, served with appaloosa beans cooked the way I like, with a bit of al dente resistance, and not mushy. My one qualm was a bit of a heavy hand with the salt in the arugula pesto on which it all was set. My entree choice was the short ribs topped with roasted cauliflower, braised perfectly so it was pulled apart with a fork. It was finished with a rich sauce, and then grilled so it had a bit of crispy bark. I liked very much the side I ordered, the grilled broccolini.
We shared a rich chocolate pot de creme for dessert.
Butchertown Grocery will be open for lunch at 11 a.m. and dinner service until 10 p.m. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The address is 1076 E. Washington St.