As exciting as new restaurants with cultural cuisines or experimental fusions can be, sometimes there’s just nothing better than a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. There’s something about Mom’s cooking, Grandma’s pumpkin pie and endless turkey that always satisfies the stomach and feels like home. That’s why I was excited when I heard about Butcher Bar, a new, upscale barbecue restaurant near Rittenhouse Square.
When I first walked into Butcher Bar, I was transported into what felt like an old–fashioned butcher shop meets hipster Brooklyn coffee bar. Complete with white tile, traditional bar stools and neon lighting at the entrance (hence butcher shop), the restaurant was full of 20–somethings with tattoos and hair dye (hence Brooklyn). I wasn’t quite sure how to categorize the vibe except for the fact that I knew I liked it.
Things kept getting better as I sat down to order and a meat–heavy menu was placed in front of me. Meatballs and Sausages were the two biggest sections prominently featured on the page, but I was also drawn to the meat–free snacks like Pretzel Monkeybread ($7) and Smoked Gouda Mac ‘n’ Cheese ($8).
With advice from the extra–informative waiter, I opted for a combo to please both my meat–loving and carb–loving selves. First came an order of Jalapeno Cornbread topped with sliced scallions. I was relieved that the cornbread wasn’t too spicy when I sunk my teeth into its rich, buttery texture. The peppers added the perfect subtle kick to what might otherwise have been a not–so–noteworthy dish.
Next came The American ($10), my choice out of the four meatball options on the menu. The dish came with three turkey meatballs topped with mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and a cranberry chutney garnish. If the menu’s patriotic feel didn’t already having me thinking of Thanksgiving, this dish certainly did. The turkey and cranberry pair felt familiar, but the presentation felt fresh, and I was happy to taste a delicacy that typically comes only once a year.
The highlight of the meal by far was the Sweet Potato Skillet. To say I nearly fainted when the piping hot plate filled with sweet potatoes, toasted marshmallows, candied walnuts and a sweet brown sugar sauce arrived at my table would not be an exaggeration. The side felt like a holiday dinner happening in my mouth.
Only open since labor day, Butcher Bar still has to work out its kinks. I wish the restaurant stuck to its classic American favorites where it’s clearly the strongest instead of trying to experiment with Greek and Italian style dishes. I’m still unsure what to make of the atmosphere. But all that aside, none of it bothered me enough to distract me from what the restaurant did best—downright high–quality homestyle cooking. I’ll definitely be back.