The Butcher Station offers dinner menu, expands hours
Winchester — The Butcher Station on Valley Avenue is finally growing into what its owners always envisioned.
When the restaurant opened in May 2011, it combined a local meat counter and light fare meals, both of which focused on fresh, local ingredients.
The emphasis on fresh and local hasn’t changed, but brother and sister Jimmy Parks and Sandy Gallagher have transitioned the restaurant into a more upscale dining experience in a casual atmosphere.
When they opened, their goal was to move The Butcher Station from a market atmosphere to a restaurant but still offer a market element because there is a demand, he said.
“Before, we were considered a market/butcher shop that served food,” said Parks, 39, of Berryville. “Now, we have grown into what we want to be.”
The restaurant is situated in the back of Creekside Station behind its clock. Gone is the 12-foot meat case that dominated the room, a heating station for food, and older booths. In its place are a new bar, smaller meat case, and a banquette bench and new dining room tables and chairs that, though used, have been refurbished to look new.
One of the biggest changes is extending closing hours from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and adding a dinner menu, which has really allowed the owners to flex their culinary muscles, said Gallagher of Berryville, who turns 42 Friday. Before, the restaurant’s main offering was sandwiches and a few hot plate specials, which are still available at lunch.
Around the same time, they also launched a beer and wine service, she said.
The dinner features a small number of core items, and then the chefs have specials that change depending on what is fresh and available or by popular customer request, she said.
Although they have shrunk the meat market side of the business considerably, the aspect of working with and selling fresh meat is still significant, Gallagher said. The restaurant cuts its own beef, pork and chicken.
For its beef, the restaurant still works with Carl DeHaven but has switched to a smaller breed of cattle, an American Shorthorn Angus Cross, that is pasture raised on Twin Creek Farm in Frederick County, she said. The antibiotic-free beef is brought to the restaurant a side at a time, cut on site, and used in various dishes.
One of the appetizers is a Beef Carpaccio made from thinly sliced pieces of steak that are pan seared but left raw on the inside, Parks said. The meat is fanned out on the plate and has shaved buffalo parmesan cheese placed over it. On top of the meat and cheese is a helping of greens — usually arugula — tossed in white truffle oil.
The presentation of the dish is beautiful because it has a vibrant red color, Gallagher said. You can’t always trust the quality of beef enough to eat it raw like this, but when you “deal small and local,” you can. “I would serve it to my kids.”
Last week, Parks added a house-made Salisbury steak to the menu using beef that is ground in house. The gravy is made from a reduction he makes from the beef bones. In fact, all of the restaurant’s beef stock is made from scratch using the beef bones.
“A lot of places buy stock bouillon. We make it from scratch,” he said.
Parks roasts the bones with a mirepoix (equal parts onion, carrots and celery) for a whole day to make a very concentrated and rich first reduction. The next day, he adds water back and roasts the bones again, making a remoulage, which is a thinner stock.
One of the restaurant’s featured soups is an onion soup that is made by straining the remoulage and adding caramelized onions, thyme and rosemary.
Fresh seafood is another specialty at the restaurant. They make pan seared scallops using U-10 dry scallops, which are “the best quality scallops you buy,” Parks said. “Because I start with that high of quality, all I have to do is add salt and pepper, sear it, and serve it.”
During happy hour, which is from 3 to 6 p.m., there are half-price pan roasted mussels, cooked in white wine, garlic, chicken stock and chorizo, he said. It is at least 1 pound of mussels for $9. “I don’t put it on the menu directly because it sells out so fast.”
Other favorites during happy hour are half-price oysters, clams and chicken wings in a homemade buffalo sauce, which have a heat of a “six on a scale of one to 10,” Parks said.
The seafood provided by United Shellfish Co. is from the Eastern Shore and is at the restaurant the day after it comes out of the water, Gallagher said. Other seafood they have featured include monkfish, catfish, rockfish and tuna.
Since the market side has been scaled back, Parks orders what he plans to cook and then sells some of that meat directly to customers in the meat counter, meaning the case always looks different.
The restaurant is all about offering good food experiences, whether it is there or at home, he said. Customers who aren’t sure how to cook something can ask for advice, and he shares recipes and even the spices he uses. The siblings’ extensive cookbook collection is in the hall to the restrooms, and customers are welcome to peruse them.
Parks prefers simple dishes that start with high quality ingredients so not much has to be added, but he can still appreciate complex dishes. Last week, he made a quail stuffed with mushroom and goat cheese duxelle on top of a Provencal white bean puree.
“The goat cheese I made in house from Trickling Springs (Creamery) goat milk,” he said.
Many of the dinners come with a choice of two sides, including mashed potatoes, french fries, potatoes gratin and seasonal vegetables. In the summer, most of the vegetables come from local farms, Parks said. He had vegetables from Chilly Hollow Farm in Berryville until a cold snap wiped out its greenhouse.
The potatoes gratin are the most popular side, featuring thinly sliced and layered potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper, cream, and Idiazabal and Manchego cheeses, both Spanish, Gallagher said.
She makes all of the restaurant’s breads fresh, preferring a large loaf that is sliced for the different sandwiches and other dishes. The bread is a combination of whole wheat white, whole wheat and bread flour.
Because it was mainly Gallagher and Parks in the kitchen for the longest time, they don’t have as much time as they would like for their dessert menu, she said. However, they still serve various selections, including different flavors of crème brulee, pot de crème (rich chocolate custard) and versions of their homemade cheesecake.
The cheesecake is cooked at a low temperature to help make it extra creamy, she said. Some of the cheesecake flavors include a double chocolate version and a raspberry version that has a layer of the fruit between the crust and the filling.
“It gives it a really nice hit of flavor without diluting it into the cheesecake,” she said.
The Butcher Station, 3107 Valley Ave., Suite 106, Winchester, is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. It serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m., and dinner from 4 to 9 p.m.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org