Since leaving the Dakota last year, Jack Riebel has been working every moment on his latest project: The first restaurant of his own in his 25-year career, the new Butcher and the Boar, just opened last week.
It's hard to pin down what we were most excited about. The unparalleled bourbon program behind the bar? The vast variety of smoked meats? The patio, sheltered from the noise and grunge of the city? The meat that was spiked with bourbon? The bourbon? But really the question we should have been asking was, can he possibly live up to these expectations?
First, we characteristically hit the bar. The bourbon Old Fashioned ($12) is bourbon mixed with just a bit of brown sugar. It was pleasantly husky, with a slow burn and just a twinge of caramel sweetness. The cocktail list is full of delicious brown liquor options, among other choices. There's a long list of taps featuring local and hard-to-find beers. Everything about the bar program is planned to pair well with the simple, rustic food.
Despite all the meat-centric promotions, vegetarians will find a lot of options on the menu. The pickle plate was a great version of an old-fashioned relish tray your grandma never made. Each bite of Brussels sprouts, beets, onions, and peppers was a sweet, vinegar-kissed delight ($5.)
A side of the cheesy white corn grits garnered such wholehearted approval from our Southern gal in residence that she ordered an extra side just so she didn't have to share ($8). The pickled shrimp were another sweet-tart treat, an adorable little jar full of onions, lemon slices, and massive pink shrimp ($15). The fries are another addictive little bar nosh, one of the few items on the menu that isn't gluten free. They're beer battered with Fulton brew and fantastically salty ($5).
But who are we kidding? It's all about the meat. The footlong dog ($9) arrives, luridly dangling over the ends of its Salty Tart bun. It was topped with a house-made chow-chow, thinly sliced peppers, a drizzle of mayo, and a drizzle of old-fashioned French's mustard. Each bit of the dog snapped, and our mouth was hit by an explosive barrage of flavors: sweet, tart, spice, heat, creaminess--holy moly! The dogs are made from grass-fed beef sourced from the same farm where they get their wild boar. The wild boar sausage, which we've had, is also deliriously delicious. The "101" bourbon sausage is entirely gluten free, a zingy dressed salad adorned with sweet, spicy pork sausage topped with a wonderfully runny egg. For $11, it's a full meal.
All these items would be great out on the upcoming patio. It will be ready in another month or so and will likely be one of the best outdoor options in the city. The space is rustic, with a fireplace, another bar, and a charcoal grill.
More features yet to come are the special chef's table downstairs in the kitchen and a speakeasy (shh, don't tell).
It's too soon to be certain, but the Butcher and the Boar might just have a big hit on its hands.