Friday, January 14, 2011

Beyond Organic, Beyond Brooklyn . . .

My sister said I had to.

Tell this story, that is.

She visited us over the past holiday. She's not in NY that often, so when she is we usually go into Williamsburg, Brooklyn to visit our friend Greg.

After a cozy morning of lounging with coffee and Scandinavian deliciousness from Bakeri, I asked Greg about a good local butcher. Without hesitation, he suggests the Meat Hook, located within The Brooklyn Kitchen just off of Meeker. Love the name. Before I get too excited, I must remind myself that in typical hipster demeanor, reactions to all things clever must be carefully stowed beneath a cool countenance because, as any self-respecting hipster knows, BK is nothing less than immensely clever. Because it is just that, immensely clever.

So off to the Meat Hook for a Frenched rack of lamb that I would be serving to a very intimate gathering at our home in the woods. Well. That was the plan, anyway.

A letter to the Meat Hook days after my purchase:

Went to the Meat Hook on a suggestion from a friend in the neighborhood, and was really happy to find you guys. Around every corner was wave after wave of the next gadget, pan, spice, utensil which was exactly what I wanted to explore.

My mission that day was lamb as I was prepping a holiday dinner for friends and family. After discussing the option of a Frenched rack, I decided on the loin chop. The butcher cradled a carcass from the cooler and showed me exactly the spot where my meal was coming from. Honest. Respectful. Honorable. Then the whole butchering crew stopped and did the Dougie. Only in BK. Awesome.

ZZZZZzzzzzzuuuuuuoooooo went the blade, chop chop chop went the loin. Wrapped in brown paper, and $125 later, I was off to my kitchen. Now, here allow me to insert this: 10 chops @$16.+/lb.... $125?

OK. At home I unwrapped the chops to find a shocking amount of FAT around each loin. I paid for all that FAT! I am no expert, but I certainly expected the butcher to TRIM the fat from the chops. I also expected the butcher to trim the chops in a presentable way (this hanging floppy, fatty piece was flailing from the ends of each cut). After speaking to him about the Frenched rack, he should have certainly surmised that presentation was important to me. Why didn't the butcher think to trim off all this excess? No joke, at least one half of what I bought was fat. I am really disappointed that this is what I bought, and brought home. The quality of the meat was fantastic, but the butchering skills, well, I can't say the loin was butchered, but rather, not butchered enough.

So what did I do? I said to self, "Self--relax, the butcher's there must know what they are doing, just throw these bitches on the grill, and let's eat". Well, short of burning down my porch because all that crazy fat caused a serious 5-alarm "flare-up" (a tame euphemism), I had to drag the grill off the porch, onto the driveway, and rescue the now propane-blackened lamb loin. You can't make this shit up. Ironically, they were grilled perfectly MR, but hardly edible, and certainly carcinogenic. $125 of lamb.

If I was an 80 year old woman, I'd go in there, and wave my ancient purse at you guys, and raise bloody hell. So here is my summoning the future 80-year old in me: What are you going to do to ensure that you did not just lose me as a customer? Do I never again trust a butcher with a mustachio? Do I become a meat hawk and inspect and insult the experience of every butcher I now engage? I'd love to come back for the quality, experience, and destination that The BK Kitchen/The Meat Hook is, and I want you you ensure that I do. How will you do this?

The 31-yr-old 80-yr old"

The response:
"Hi, Erika! This is ---- from The Meat Hook. I'm one of the partners here and also one of the two mustaches. I just got your email and I wanted to take the time to apologize. I'm very sorry this happened to you in our shop and even more sorry it happened around the holidays. It's the policy of the shop to show you everything you buy before we wrap it up to make sure you're happy. Obviously that didn't happen this time and it's regrettable.

I'm also very grateful that you took the time to write to us. We always want to know if something goes wrong or if someone isn't happy. We always want to make it right and do right by our customers. With that in mind, I'd like to give you a $125 credit at the shop. I hope this will go
some way into making up for our mistake and making things right again. Alternately, you can pass on the credit and flog the person responsible for 2 minutes with a piece of bamboo. I leave the choice to you. If you would like the credit, would you mind emailing me your full name? I don't want to be hooking up any old Erika from the block.

In answer to your inner-80 year old woman--you should never trust a man with a mustache; especially accountants. You should also always insult your butcher. They're meddlesome by nature and need to be put in their place.

Once again, I'm sorry this happened. Let me know if there's anything else I can do to make this right.

The 30 year old 14 year old,

How 'bout that?! I am so impressed with not only the quality and sourcing of meat (my lamb came from Milan, NY not that far from where I live), but the quality of interaction of this local biz dude who wants to make sure to get it right with his local peeps. Cheers to YOU, mustachioed hero. Me? Customer for life. Seriously. If you are in/near Williamsburg, this should be your one stop to get Fleur de Sel, roasted grains for your home-brewed beer, merguez sausage, Rancho Gordo beans, and the essential Mexican hot cocoa frother.
Obviously, I have one of these. Who doesn't? Every girl should.
Thank you, Meat Hook. I ♥ you.


  1. Erika,

    Came across your name on designsponge and was wondering if you'd be interested in giving a fellow journalist some advice on the Hudson Valley. Let me know.

    Joseph A. Satto

  2. Hi Erika,

    Came across one of your comments on designsponge. Wondering if you want to help a fellow blogger out with some advice about towns in the Hudson Valley. Let me know.

    Joseph A. Satto