Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.
You might get a sense of deja vu walking into DA Butcher. At this early stage they still bear a strong resemblance to the New York Butcher Shoppe, the former occupant of this space. Replace “NY” with “DA”, drop the quaintly spelled “shoppe” and everything else remains the same?
There’s a little more going on with DA Butcher. New York Butcher decided back in the fall to close this Alpharetta location. Their goal was to concentrate on their Sandy Springs store, the last one in Metro Atlanta. A former employee at this Alpharetta location decided to open the independent butcher shop you see today and brought on an entirely new staff.
The store has the same layout as before with a meat case separating patrons from staff. Large cuts of steak are featured prominently here including a monster porterhouse with impressive marbling. Also catching my eye were a handful of prime steaks including a few whole beef tenderloins. There was even this nice Wagyu sirloin, something you don’t see everyday.
Along the wall you’ll find a bank of freezers. Their compressors emit an abnormally loud groan that makes conversation a little difficult in the store. But inside their doors you’ll find an array of prepared foods and frozen meats. They’ve got sushi-grade tuna curiously sitting next to bricks of pork scrapple and many other proteins. You’ll find expensive pastas, ravioli and potato gnocchi along with more mundane steakfries.
On my first visit I took home two prime beef filets. They were cut to order and turned out a little thicker than I had planned. They also offered to season the filets, a suggestion I found unusual of such a quality cut of meat. I declined as I had an au poivre preparation in mind. Otherwise I had no complaints with the steaks. They were wonderfully tender as you might expect from this cut and grade. But price will keep me away from these guys except for the most special of occasions.
I was determined to try their barbecue on my second visit. They smoke pork and brisket in front of the store and sell it at lunch or as whole pieces of smoked meat sealed in cryovac. I’m always on the prowl for good barbecue in the suburbs and am willing to try just about anything out of the ordinary. As I explained to a co-worker, you’ve gotta kiss a few frogs before finding a prince. Unfortunately for DA, there was nothing princely about their barbecue.
I opted for a pulled pork sandwich and cringed as I watched the guy place chilled pork meat into a microwave oven. The small quantity of meat was not tender at all but did have a solid core of smokey flavor. It was a little fatty and overall was not very good at all. I was hungry an hour later.
So for an early look, DA Butcher seems eerily similar to their predecessor. Their steaks and prepared foods are expensive, especially when compared to places like Costco. They can distinguish themselves somewhat by offering very premium cuts and grades, something most are not in the market for on a regular basis. They are planning to expand offerings including beer and wine. That could help as would better execution on the smoker. Give them a little more time and they’ll have it all figured out.