Saugatuck Craft Butchery was founded in 2011 by Ryan Fibiger and Paul Nessel with the philosophy of combining “traditional butchery skills with sustainable, whole animal practices and modern-day food movement ideals.” It purchases locally raised animals from farmers that share this philosophy, dry-ages the meat in-house and sells directly to the public. Over the last four years, as its popularity increased, it expanded to a new, larger location across the street that would feature both a butchery and a restaurant and earlier this year it merged with Fleishers Butchery, of Brooklyn, to become Fleishers Craft Butchery.
After the successful launch of breakfast and lunch service, Fleishers recently hired Chef Adam Truelove, formerly of Tarry Lodge, Napa & Co. and Pine Social to oversee its culinary expansion. In the last month it both opened its doors at its newest location in Cos Cob and expanded the service in Saugatuck to include dinner to showcase the farm raised meat and poultry from the butchery coupled with Chef Adam’s creativity. With a very low key environment, 30 seats and an additional six stools at the bar, the restaurant will offer a simple menu, as well as Family Dinners, from Tuesday through Saturday from 530-930PM.
The menu is divided into three sections, “Small,” “Burgers” and “From the Butcher.” The small plates range from cheese or meat platters to salads, to meatballs and pigs’ ears. With four choices of burgers, there are a full range of options for guests looking for a twin-thin to a large fatty patty (both beef and lamb are featured), while the entrée sized plates include several cuts from the butchery attached to the restaurant
CTbites was invited to sample a selection of the new cuisine.
The “Apple and Fennel Salad” was one of the best renditions of the currently popular kale salad I have tasted. The kale, slivered apples and fennel were tossed with a house-made bacon vinaigrette, shredded goat cheese and pistachios. The bacon-y vinaigrette was a fantastic complement to the kale with loads of smokiness that created a delightful combination. The apples brought a mild sweetness and the goat cheese a touch of saltiness. The pistachios rounded the salad with a nice earthiness and additional crunch.
The “Lamb Meatballs” were nestled in a swath of smoked ricotta and finished with a spiced red wine reduction and slivered scallions. The Indian influenced meatballs, seasoned with curry and cumin, were complemented by the creaminess of the smoked ricotta. They were soft and moist from the steaming and reheating in the wine reduction, which added a slight bitterness to the dish.
The last small plate was the “Crispy Pig,” which included chicharrones and thinly sliced strips of pig’s ears, which were braised before deep frying. The strips were coated with a spicy Sriracha sauce and parsley, and served with aioli. The chicharrones were crunchy pillows of air while the pork strips were the textural opposite; chewy and crunchy. I was not a fan of this combination (a personal preference) but others at the table loved it.
The “Craft Burger” was included on my 2015 list of Best Burgers in Southwest Connecticut and the current version continues as one of my favorites in the area. The burger begins with a combination of dry-aged beef with a little added fat, dipped in an IPA cheese fondue, and topped with a few greens, bacon jam and an onion ring. The deep flavors of the dry-aged meats were perfectly balanced by the bacon jam and the fondue dip. The burger was encased in a brioche that added buttery goodness. Shoestring fries accompanied the burger and they were crispy on the exterior and soft on the interior
When you are sitting adjacent to one of the best butchery around, it is hard to select which of the entrées to choose, with a double-cut pork chop, a half chicken, steak frites (currently a Rib Eye) and a lamb dish all an option.
The highlight of the visit was the “Rib Eye,” the current cut for the Steak Frites. Since we enjoyed the fries earlier with the burger, Chef Adam paired the chop with brisket burnt ends and beans. After one bite, I knew this was an outstanding steak. The 16-ounce filet was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, with a great sear on the exterior. The deep, ultra-rich flavor was fantastic, fork-tender and reminiscent of a great steak house. The side of brisket burnt ends and beans was a wonderful accompaniment that both mellowed and enhanced the steak.
The “Pork Chop” was an enormous double-cut chop served atop a mound of sausage stuffing and a small side salad. The chop was served medium-rare and pink in the middle (order differently if desired) and glazed with a pomegranate molasses and finished with a dash of Gray rock sea salt. The chop was moist and flavorful and delicious with the sweet pomegranate glaze. The stuffing contained house-made sausage and brioche and offered just a hint of spicy-sweetness.
Overall, the initial offerings at Fleisher’s were fun, creative and showcased the top-tiered quality of the butcher shop. Chef Adam informed us after the meal that lamb will be a continual offering to expand the year-round acceptance of this wonderful meat. The prices reflect the restaurant’s ability to offer exceptional quality at relatively reasonable prices. The $32 rib eye steak frites was a great value and the other entrées were priced in the mid-$20s. I look forward to returning to Fleishers to work my way through each of the meats and poultry.
- Apple and Fennel Salad ($12)
- Craft Burger ($18)
- Rib Eye ($32)
- Pork Chop ($24)
- Lamb Meatballs ($13)
Did Not Like
- Crispy Pig ($9)
580 Riverside Ave. - Westport CT 06880 - (203) 226-6328