Where To Shop: White Gold Butchers
A storied restaurant chef and two women master butchers have brought an exciting and modern butcher shop to Manhattan. Chef and restaurateur April Bloomfield and her partner Ken Friedman (The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, Salvation Burger), and butchers Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest who also worked in-house at the meat-centric Salvation Burger, have joined together to create White Gold Butchers.
The shop has just opened on the Upper West Side, at 375 Amsterdam Avenue, at the corner of West 78th Street. In addition to being a butcher shop, the place is also a restaurant, serving meals all day, starting with breakfast, segueing into lunch, and ending up as a dinner spot.
There's much to be said about the appealing meals served at the dozen or so tables, plus there's take-out. And despite all the meat, there are choices for vegetarians. But I'm here to tell you about the butcher shop side of White Gold.
And it is fabulous.
First, there's the location, for which I personally am grateful as it's my 'hood. When I thanked butcher and partner Erika Nakamura for opening on the Upper West Side and not in a more trendy neighborhood where new restaurants tend to go, like TriBeCa for example, she said, "people who live here cook so this is where we came." She speaks with some authority as she not only grew up in the neighborhood, she still lives there.
Second, there are the sources of the meat and poultry they sell. The word artisanal is so worn out that it's lost most of its meaning, but let's resuscitate it for White Gold Butchers. To begin with, these folks know their producers, most of whom are small and local. I purchased a gorgeous 2.2 pound pork loin, meticulously trimmed and tied (see the photo), and when I asked where it came from I got a detailed backstory about its Hudson Valley pig farmer, the breed of animal, the size of the farm, the farmer's philosophy, and how April Bloomfield happened to become acquainted with him.
When I asked about special orders I got an enthusiastic response from Nakamura: "Ask us for anything and we should be able to get it. It might take a week so give us a bit of notice." I am already dreaming of finally being able to get a guinea hen or a partridge.
Third -- and this is rare in my decades of buying meat and poultry in NYC -- these butchers are highly skilled in all aspects of the animals they sell. There sell cuts of beef and pork I've only seen in Europe. For example, two cuts of skirt steak, pork shanks, and beef coulotte, which is also called a sirloin cap.
But White Gold Butchers is not precious exotica. There are rib eye and New York strip steaks, pork shops, oxtails, Boston butts, ground beef, legs of lamb, chicken any way you want, including rotisserie cooked, charcuterie, sausages, patés and terrines, plus duck whole or already cut into pieces. The shop is still new (they opened in late October) and more products, including some of the ground meats cooked to acclaim at Salvation Burger (including lamb and also a beef and cheese mixture), are due to arrive. As for their prices -- they are competitive with other butcher shops, plus places like Citarella (see their website for an extensive price list).
It's all quite exciting.
It's a fact of meat buying in New York that even in markets that give their butcher counters pride of place and have experienced people behind them, much of what they sell is prepped and cut somewhere else. The folks behind the counter can usually trim and finish an order but they certainly haven't been involved in the sourcing and selecting of what's sold. But at White Gold the butchers, along with April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman, are also the owners and so they have a reputational stake in the quality of what they sell.
There are some other excellent butcher shops in this city. Florence Butcher Shop in the Village, Holland Court on the Upper East Side, and Staubitz in Park Slope come to mind. But it looks like with the arrival of White Gold that we've got a contender for some new greatness.
Where: 375 Amsterdam Avenue at W. 78th Street, Upper West Side, Manhattan
Contact Info: Tel. 212-362-8731 whitegoldbutchers.com
Days and Hours: The shop is open daily, 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Check the website for restaurant days and hours.
What to Know:
They're only three blocks from Zabar's and a different three blocks from Orwasher's UWS location.
The shop is very busy at mealtime, especially in the middle of the day with teenagers on their lunch break from nearby schools. If you need special help, you'll be able get more attention from the butchers if you go off hours.
Call if you have a special order.