BBQ Never Tasted Better!
By Ilija Sekulovski
Wholesome. Relaxed. Warm. Inviting. Authentic. Organic. Natural. Delicious. Awesome.
Just some of the words used to describe Butcher Bar. And if you gave me a dictionary and about a week, I could probably come up with another 100.
‘We’ve taken the best of American BBQ styles and put it together with an Astorian twist’
says owner Matthew Katakis who designed and built it all.
Everything inside is reclaimed. The bar and the tables are all made from reclaimed red cedar and the bar is adorned with farming tools laminated into the surface of the wood. The feel is very much an outdoor country style.
But where this place leaves others in the dust, is its food. This is where the passion for meat really comes out from Katakis, who was born and raised in Astoria.
And as I sit at the bar, sipping on some moonshine, it is made very evident that Katakis really loves what he does.
The Butcher Bar as it is now, has only been up since October. However it was next door for about 3 and a half years before then.
It started off needless to say, as a butcher.
But it wasn’t long till owner Katakis started cooking what was left over.
With an attitude that ‘every bit of an animal should be used’, the dishes he was serving were quick to be grabbed by patrons with a
taste for quality.
Soon he moved next door, and the Butcher Bar as we know it now, began to quickly thrive.
There is something you need to know about Katakis. He loves what he does. And there is something you need to know about what he does;
Everything you will eat at Butcher Bar is locally sourced, and as organic or natural as possible.
The concept was inspired by Food Inc. a documentary pointing out the vile and inhumane treatment of animals by farmers. It showed Katakis how tainted meat could be, and motivated him to seek out something more. Something better. This is his mission, and has been since day one.
After doing research into animal rights and grass fed locations, Katakis established his sources of humane farms.
Pork, beef, chicken, lamb and turkey. Grass fed and certified.
The meat is cut and kept on site with options to buy, or to sit and eat something absolutely delicious, made by head Chef/butcher and bbq specialist, Orlando Sanchez.
Butcher Bar was one of the first places to become fully conscious of animal treatment. And one of the first in NYC to sell only grass fed meat. The meat has absolutely no growth hormones, and every last bit gets used.
But putting all that aside, I cannot continue without delving into the absolute awesomeness that was, the food we ate.
It started with drinks. As any meal should.
Jalapeno Margarita was one hell of a spicy hit, with a lime finish that quenches the spice along with the thirst.
Catcher in the Rye is a strong bourbon American Classic. The Amaretto is a silent undertone that creeps in with the bubbly texture. But my favorite was definitely Old Fashioned Apple Pie. Name says it all really. Cinnamon is a wonderful topping to this moonshine based goody in a glass. The cherry on top is the perfect, cherry on top.
If it were December, this would be my Christmas pick. And as mentioned, you can’t go wrong with the Moonshine. One of few places that still does moonshine, and does it well. The hint of strawberry is perfectly subtle while the liqueur feel is smooth as it runs down.
But we didn’t come here just to drink. We came here for meat. And by God meat we got!
Butchers Bowl. Soft, mushy potato goodness lies only a break through the Jack cheese cover, and with an ‘oh so sweet’ smoked pork
topping, it melts in your mouth.
The added corn is a pleasant surprise, and this dish was a perfect start.
Next we go the Half-baked Mac and Cheese.
‘Wow’. Can I say that? Is that enough of a description to get away with? No? Fine. Cheese is perfectly melted. The mac, is soft and mouth wateringly tasty, and the bacon bits crunch every so often in your mouth lending a breaking texture to the soft surrounding.
But the Burnt Ends! Oh the Burnt Ends. There is a reason why Butcher Bar runs out of Burnt Ends on a regular basis, no matter how much they make. Sweet, tender, succulent to the point of delirious happiness. They call them ‘meat candy’. And I certainly felt like a kid in a candy store. (Around about this time I had realized that I wasn’t taking many pictures and missed a few. Blame the food. Seriously).
The Pork Belly followed, along with the Brisket. The Pork Belly wasn’t too soft, cooked slightly more, and somehow the saltiness of it creeps behind the sweetness which comes from the fat. I could’ve munched away on them all night. The Brisket just melts in your mouth. And has a freshness to it that livens out the palate.
The Monster 50/50 was plonked right in front of me. Pulled pork, and onions and coleslaw on a bun. Wholesome is the word. Refreshingly rich and meaty are also words. The sweet spicy Apple bacon baked beans side dish are a must. Although it looks heavy, this dish actually isn’t.
The coleslaw is something unique too. One of few places that actually put in mayonnaise and vinegar together. And probably one of the best. It’s a palate cleanser and a pleasant break from the richness of the meat.
By this stage I’m pretty much food comatose. However, the Apple cake shows up (free with your meal, awesome touch). Where’d that come from?
Ok, just a bite.
Annnnnd then it’s gone.
Soft, moist, rich and sweet with a melted topping that’ll melt you away. It was a perfect ending to a perfect onslaught of some of the best bbq I’ve had.
The passion for food shows in every bite at this place. And with another one opening up in Manhattan soon, things will only get better.
Bon Appetite Astoria!
Where: 37-10 30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11103
Phone: (718) 606-8140
*Featured Image Credit: Christine Tsai Image Via Newyork.Seriouseates.com