Growing up, my neighborhood butcher shop was Barth’s Pork Store, a New Providence institution featuring Old World cuts of meat from local legend Otto Barth. We regularly indulged in ham, sausage, German potato salad befitting his homeland and the always tempting (for a five-year-old) vanilla wafers, which rested near the register. Ted Dombrowski evidently grew up pretty close to me in Elizabeth, New Jersey, but as I learned on a recent trip to Charleston, Ted’s Butcherblock is not my (or your) neighborhood butcher shop.
Dombrowski comes by butchery honestly, with Polish-born grandparents who ran a butcher shop in Elizabeth, New Jersey, for over 40 years, including a cellar smoke house and trolley delivery service. In fact, Ted keeps a black and white photo near the entrance of his grandparents Walter and Mary, who stand with him and his brother when they were both much younger.
My brother Eric and sister-in-law Jamie ordered sandwiches that looked just fine. Their House Roasted Wagyu Beef Panini made Charleston mag’s list of the 50 best things to eat in the city – but my path led to the December Specials board and the glass-fronted display case.
Of course that didn’t stop me from snaking a forkful of my brother’s mustard seed-laced German potato salad, which accompanies each sandwich.
Considering the wide array of specials and prepared foods, it’s conceivable that Ted’s Butcherblock would be a regular stop if it was in my neighborhood. I’d certainly return, for no other reason than to try the tantalizing Joyful Almond pie with chocolate, coconut flakes, almonds and buttermilk filling.
Ted’s also offers fridgefuls of pates, fresh-cut meat, charcuterie and cheese, including cheese from the U.K. with brown beer veins. Better yet, they’ve got a fridge full of craft beers like Southern Tier black ale, Monk’s Café Flanders style ale and Infinium, a Champagne type collaboration from Samuel Adams and Weihenstephan that brewer Bert Boyce referenced in our interview last year.
They even feature a Bacon of the Month Club, offering “the finest artisan bacon from small-batch farms around the country,” with selections like Schaller & Webber Black Forest Bacon (New York), Eden Natural Kurobuta Applewood Bacon (Iowa) and Broadbent Farms Pepper Coated Bacon (Kentucky). Ted’s might not be the butcher shop of my youth, but it was certainly site specific and in many ways helped to expand the definition of the concept.