My most civilized meals have been in Paris. I don't think I have romanticized that experience. Instead, I think that lunch there is meant to be far slower than our bite and run culture. Or perhaps it is because I have been there on vacation, able to sit and write or watch people walk by.
I recently, though, had a similarly delightful experience at The Butcher Shop in the South End. I have eaten at Sportello and interviewed Barbara Lynch. And I love her cookbook, Stir. However, I haven't eaten at a number of her restaurants such as at Number 9 Park, Menton, or The Butcher Shop. I decided to change that, arriving at the Butcher Shop at the sedate hour of 11:00 am and, for most of my lunch, was the only diner present, content to enjoy the quiet.All aspects of my meal were delicious. It began with two breads: a wonderful house made whole grain soda bread, as well as baguette slices from Hi-Rise Bakery in Cambridge. Accompanying them was a perfect duo: butter with fleur de sel and raw honey from the Champlain Valley in Vermont. As my server Steve explained to me, The Butcher Shop chose the honey for its low protein content, giving it a particular smoothness. I followed his advice and was soon swooning over the butter, salt, and honey spread on the soda bread. I could have eaten just that and been happy.
Luckily though, he steered me to a lovely trio of house made pate and terrines. I began by nibbling on a bacon wrapped Pate de Campagne of pork. Next was a duck liver mousse with sweet wine gelee. And, finally, a Lamb rillette. Nestled on the dish were pickled onions, cornichons, whole grain mustard and a fig puree. The pate was appropriately coarse. The bacon added a wonderful smokiness to the earthy pate and was wonderful with the fig. The lamb rillette had an almost chewy texture and was lovely with the mustard. My favorite, though, was the creamy and silken mousse that was delightful with the gelee.
Since this was my civilized lunch out, I was please that Steve suggested a perfect wine pairing; A Heinrich Red. It is an Austrian wine from 2008, that consisted of 3 grapes: Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent. It was lush and reminded me of berries.
And then, because sometimes life happens this way Steve brought me the ultimate treat: a trio of cheeses for dessert. First, I tried a bite of Delice de Bourgogne. A cow's milk cheese from France, it was tart, creamy and as rich as butter. Spread on the bread with the house made Greengage plum preserve, it was as good a dessert as I can think of. Next, the Tomme from Twig Farm. This resembled a nutty chedddar and was wonderful on its own or with more of the raw honey. Finally, Queso Azul de Valdon from Spain. Typically I don't love blue cheeses. Often their pungency masks the rest of the cheese. But this time, following Steve's recommendation I spread it on the yeasty baguette with the honey. And it exploded in my mouth-salty and sweet.
I finished with an espresso, content and planning to return.
The Butcher Shop, 552 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, 617-423-4800