There was a time when grocery shopping was completed at a small neighborhood market and central to that market was the butcher, ready with a cleaver to cut you a chop or steak of your choice. He probably knew your name. The latest trend for gathering ingredients is the return of the local butcher shop, where you can not only get a fine steak, but just about anything else you need to complete the meal, from fresh vegetables to prepared side-dishes to a nice bottle of wine.New Hampshire restaurant veterans Jason Parent and Justin Rosberg opened their first The Meat House butcher shop and grocery in 2003. The concept of offering a great selection of meats from all natural prime to marinated meats to dry-aged meats with the service of an old fashion butcher shop grew and they now have six stores in New Hampshire, as well many in nine other states.I visited the Bedford location. The butcher shop at the back was eye pleasing with thick aged steaks - many of the cuts were ones I normally don't have access to and many had been marinating, ready to go for the grill. In addition to premium beef, pork and lamb you can find exotic meats such as buffalo and venison. I was told if you are looking for alligator or boar all you have to do is ask. Special orders are accepted, plus if you need information on how to prepare a certain cut, the men behind the counters are eager share their knowledge.The grocery personnel are helpful too and often have sample trays set up to give a taste of the latest products, many produced in artisanal kitchens across the state. I found samples of pasta salad, piquant green salsa on organic corn chips and wedges of peach and raspberry pie. Also find rustic brick-oven baked breads from a local artisanal baker and jars filled with preserved pickles and wine jellies made just down the road.Several things stand out. A return to a high level of personal service, a collection of produce and products from local farms and food artisans and the high quality of the meats offered, many ready for the grill. For the food lover, The Meat Shop, and the trend in general, is a treasure and a welcome return to our most authentic past.
This article appears in the November 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine