Look away, vegans. You too, vegetarians. Because this, this is meat country.
The Village Butcher opened this week in Modesto’s McHenry Village, the city’s new nose-to-tail artisan butcher shop. Owner and Modesto native Matt Soderstrom wanted to bring his meaty vision of farm-to-table eating to the valley. And the result is a case full of locally sourced beef, chicken and pork (and locally distributed seafood) that is almost as pretty to look at as it is tasty to eat.
“I’ve gone to these farms, walked into the pastures and shaken the farmers’ hands,” Soderstrom said. “This is real farm-to-table.”
He even has a framed photo, plus ear tag, of the first steer butchered for the shop. And he will happily tell you exactly from which farm his meat came: beef from Ripon and Escalon, pork from Turlock and chicken/eggs from Denair.
As a whole-animal butcher, Soderstrom strives to use “everything but the oink,” with the goal of zero wasted protein. So, unusual and custom cuts are no problem. Trimming, off-cuts and other pieces will go into the house-cured salumi and other deli meats. Bones will go into soup or broth. Lard and tallow will be sold by the Mason jar for frying and cooking. And leftover scraps and offal will go into the raw dog-food program he has started out of the shop.
The meat case offers several types of beef, from dry-aged ground ($5.99 per pound) to tenderloin filet ($10 for 4 ounces) to a show-stopping tomahawk chop ($18.99 per pound) that is — and I measured, so this isn’t hyperbole — as long as my arm. Fresh chicken, various cuts of pork, whole salmon, oysters and other seafood are currently available. In the next few weeks he will add lamb, and by then his house-made bacon, pastrami and ham should also be ready.
As if that wasn’t enough, the shop makes its own beef jerky, chicharrones, pickles, sauerkraut, dry rubs and barbecue sauces.
If all this is making you hungry — and it should — you don’t have to wait to chow down until you’ve fired up the grill at home. The shop’s deli sells smoked beef brisket, tri-tip and pulled pork by the pound. You can also turn any into a sandwich to enjoy in shop, or add it to a salad. By next month Soderstrom plans to add a meatball and a pastrami sandwich to the menu. Sandwiches run $10 to $15; salads start at $9 with an additional fee depending on protein.
The shop was first announced earlier this spring, and since then Soderstrom and his wife Stacy have been transforming the approximately 2,000-square-foot space, which formerly housed the Hale Frame Shop & Gallery. The new shop has an open and light dining area and gleaming deli cases. Behind the counter, the raw prep tables are kept separate for beef, pork and chicken. And the large walk-in freezer is where meat is aged and the larger uncut slabs are stored.
On only its second day open Thursday morning, the shop already had a small handful of repeat customers. Situated on the north-facing Briggsmore Avenue side of complex, two doors down from Bauer’s 66 1/2 Skillet & Grill, the store will hold an all-day grand opening celebration Friday with giveaways and a raffle.