Beast and Cleaver hides a steak house inside a butcher shop

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, Seattle’s favorite and cult butcher, sets up a few cutlery and assumes its bi-weekly alter ego: the wine bar. But a few weeks later, Beast and Cleaver co-owner Kevin Smith realized that “our wine bar had quickly turned into a steak bar.”

It may not have been the intention, but Smith and wine director Nick Davis have built one of the most enjoyable steak house experiences in town in a place that isn’t even technically a restaurant.

On a recent night, the compact menu listed a few cuts you’d expect to find in a place that exalts beef – a portion of rib eye, Japanese A5 Miyazaki Wagyu and something that sounded totally unfamiliar. A king of London?

“It really is a London grill,” Smith happily admits across the counter. In America, the reputation of this cut falls somewhere between seasonal allergies and Hee Ha reruns. That’s because, historically, we grill that tough cut, usually a top round, in flavor oblivion.

With help from the six-burner stove in the butcher’s workspace (and plenty of butter), Smith turns this cut into a platter of slices of the most tender meat, so rare it’s practically blue. , with fresh garlic and rosemary instilling their flavors. in this butter.

It was breathtaking. Did I mention this steak is $25?

Incorporating a restaurant into the store has been the plan since Beast and Cleaver opened in innocent early 2020, Smith says (hence the stove behind the counter). “People say cooks can’t butcher and butchers can’t cook – I don’t believe in any of that.”

Cooking is also another way to fulfill your commitment to using a whole animal. Beast and Cleaver stuffs its case with 10 types of sausages, liver terrines and pies so ornate they deserve their own Instagram.

By day, a zealous carnivorous fan base lines up for pork chops and well-marbled zabuton and steaks aged with koji for an extra whisper of funk. Smith, impressively, gets nearly all his meat from Washington or Oregon, except for the occasional foie gras and the marbled influx of A5 Wagyu from Japan.

The Tuesday and Wednesday evening wine bar consists of two tables, a handful of counters and a menu of rotating cuts as well as complementary dishes such as duck confit, roasted parsnips with honey or potatoes crispy fingerling potatoes with duck fat. If rethinking everything you knew about the London grill doesn’t sound appealing, diners can also request that any cut from the butcher’s crate be brushed with butter under Smith’s watchful eye. The owner of Beast and Cleaver even cooks dessert that night, a cardamom pudding topped with miso chocolate – a creation you’d be delighted to encounter in any high-end restaurant.

The experience is also underpinned by a surprisingly broad and surprisingly fun wine list overseen by Davis, a master sommelier whose resume includes Canlis and Bateau. Smith thought people might pop into this loosely defined wine bar on weekdays for a bottle and some snacks. Instead, “it’s packed with people ordering steaks and chops,” he says. “We need to find a real name for this.”

At this point, Beast and Cleaver trades in their butcher identity for some sort of restaurant alter ego six nights a week. On weekends, it becomes Le Paysan, serving five- to seven-course tasting menus that redirect the spotlight away from trophy steaks.

“If you know how to use them, you can turn crappy cuts of meat into better things,” Smith says. In the past, he topped raw beef with ikura or fashioned individual pies from smoked pork knuckle, confit rabbit and prunes. The limited number of seats book up almost immediately when The Peasant publishes a new month of reservations on Tock (those who subscribe to the Beast and Cleaver newsletter are warned). On Sundays, Davis pairs library wines with some kind of themed meal, like a vertical tasting of aged beef, or the current ode to St. John’s restaurant in Smith’s native London.

That’s a lot of culinary power for a place that’s technically a butcher shop, not a restaurant. But for Smith, “it’s actually the same thing.”

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Raymond I. Langston