The Meat Market: A Butcher Shop Goes Back to the Future
When Rural Intelligence first reported two years ago about Jeremy Stanton’s dream of opening a butcher shop in Great Barrington devoted to locally raised meats, he had yet to meet Ruth Reichl, the editor of the late lamented Gourmet magazine, who spends her weekends in Columbia County. In July 2010, Reichl hired Stanton’s Fire Roasted Catering to produce a pig roast for her husband Michael Singer’s birthday, and she was blown away by Stanton’s artistry and passion for real food. She pledged to invest in his next venture. With her moral and financial support, Stanton was able to finally assemble a group of investors to back The Meat Market, which officially opens on Monday, August 29.
As someone who’s made his living by grilling over open flames no matter what the weather, Stanton is a bit of a daredevil—the Evel Knievel of cooking. So it comes as no surprise that he may or may not have steaks for sale on opening day. “We have some beef in the walk-in, but it may not be ready to sell—it takes 14 to 21 days for an animal to relax,” he explains. “We’ll open with the best we can offer, including a lot of sausages, pork chops, liver sausages and chickens.”
The Meat Market wiil be more than a butcher shop. “We will have an assortment of prepared foods that you can eat here or take home,” says Stanton, who vows to serve the best egg-and-sausage sandwich in the Berkshires all day long. “We’ll serve it with coffee made in a Chemex server. It’s what I like to drink, and I like that Chemex comes from Pittsfield. But we are not going to have an espresso machine and we are not going to be a coffee shop. Everything we do will be about meat with a focus on local and artisanal products. I’ll sell mustard and capers, but not granola.” He will have a lunch counter where he’ll offer customers a chance to eat exactly what he and his staff are having for lunch that day such as a Philly cheesesteak, a North Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich, or a bowl of spaghetti Bolognese. “There will be three ways to experience the shop. Buy the ingredients to cook at home. Buy prepared food to eat at home. Or eat it here.”
As any locavore knows, eating responsibly and seasonally means not necessarily being able to have what you want when you want it. “I probably won’t offer baby back ribs except by special order because I would rather sell bone-in pork chops and you can’t get both from the same animal,” he explains. “But I will have spare ribs.” Like an old-fashioned neighborhood butcher, he and his staff will be teachers, explaining the difference among various cuts and offering cooking advice as well as recipes.
Located in the old Gypsy Joynt space (near Cafe Adam and across Route 7 from Price Chopper), The Meat Market is surprisingly stylish. “Ritch Holben, who’s an architect and our neighbor in Southfield, helped us source the chairs and subway tiles and gave us lots of advice about colors,” says Stanton. “We both like that chic industrial look of soft woods mixed with hard metals.” The snappy logo was designed by Greg Klee, another friend. While Stanton hopes to be open seven days a week, he will adjust his schedule based on how much meat he’s selling and how much he has on hand. “We are not going to be afraid to run out,” he says dare-devilishly.
The Meat Market opening August 29
389 Stockbridge Road (aka Route 7), Great Barrington
Daily 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.