Join me as I begin a new column on Les Gourmands: REVEALED! A weekly inside look at my adventures at restaurants and eateries throughout Boston.
Our first restaurant is Barbara Lynch's shop/wine bar/bistro, The Butcher Shop. I had always wanted to go into this place while simultaneously being so intimidated to step foot inside it. I had previously conquered Lynch's flagship, No. 9 Park, with a nine course meal paired with delicious wines. While the price could be considered slightly intimidating, No. 9 Park offered a more enjoyable atmosphere and experience than Aujourd'hui (Boston's other exquiste French restaurant). So, despite already eating at the more serious of her restaurants, I don't know why I still remained scared to step into Butcher Shop---perhaps it is the size of the place and the way it is set up. There are windows on two sides and you can see tons of people always standing or sitting right up against the windows. Plus, I always wondered, what do you do when you go inside?....there is no host station, what will I do? (not to create another tangent, but I am also intimated by B&G Oysters, another Barbara Lynch restaurant!)
Finally putting the fear aside I made plans to go The Butcher Shop (being invited to meet someone there for a drink made the idea of going inside much easier...however we decided to meet there--now what? do I wait outside or go in? eeeek!). I planned to be late--very late by my standards, however, it seemed my dining companion had simliar ideas and was not waiting for me outside as I had hoped. So, taking a deep breath, I decided to step inside. My fears of not knowing what to do were put to rest immediately as I was greeted as soon as I walked in. While I waited, they suggested I have a drink over at the butcher block--this was getting fun already! When I moved into my apartment in Beacon Hill, I wanted to have a big butcher block that could serve as a counter (since there was limited space) but also as a serving table where 2 or more could sit or stand around and have drinks or dinner. Real butcher's blocks are more expensive than I wanted, so I settled for a tall dining bar with a butcher block-type top to it---but this restaurant had the real deal and I loved it!
The walls were filled with that day's specials written in chalk and behind where I was standing was a huge refrigerator full of excellent meats (it is a real shop--you can buy cuts of meat there). All of this really added to the feel of the place--I didn't realize this butcher block part of the restaurant even existed because from Tremont Street all you can really see is the bar at the front. So I had a glass of wine while I waited--the wine list was very European (I had know idea what I was looking through since I really only know things about California wines), but I had a lot of time to thumb through the selections since Ryan thought we were meeting a half an hour after I did. Once he finally got there, the butcher (yes, there is a real-live butcher there) enjoyed overhearing the conversation that we had about Ryan's lateness while he (the butcher, not Ryan) chopped different meats and wrapped them--it was actually fascinating to watch.
The wine was delicious and we had a little bread to nibble on. We did not, however, stay there for dinner. I am seriously looking forward to returning there both for drinks around the butcher block and to actually sit for dinner! I definitely recommend you take the plunge and venture in--the entire staff was very friendly to me (even while I was just standing alone waiting). Barbara Lynch is 2 for 2 in my book--I look forward to B&G!
The Butcher Shop
552 Tremont Street