Big Lou's Butcher Shop is one of new restaurants that opened up in the new year; the restaurant is located in a couple of blocks from Chinatown, and is from the owners of the nearby Two Chefs and a Table. While the food is similar to Meat & Bread, in terms of being a sandwich joint, the place is unique because it is primarily a butcher shop first and foremost.
The space and design of the restaurant and shop has a charmingly old-fashioned, yet graphically modern feel. The meat display is wonderfully attractive, with meat laid out in a most pleasing way. The meat itself is locally sourced.
There is also a selection of pickles (asparagus, bean), and various spice rubs.
While the store is quite spacious, the eat-in dining area is quite minimal, consisting of just a bar facing the wall and some (quite uncomfortable) stools. The butcher art is quite a nice touch.
Here's the porchetta sandwich ($9), with a Boylan Black Cherry soda, which Brigid ordered. The sandwiches came attractively wrapped in custom printed paper and white string. The pork itself was very flavourful - juicy and well-seasoned. While the sandwiches had bits of crackling, the pieces that were included where quite hard, nearly teeth-breakingly so. In comparison with the porchetta sandwich at Meat & Bread, Big Lou's version is not as good, due to many tiny reasons; however, it is still a pretty good sandwich.
Amanda got the Bulgogi chicken ($9), which didn't look like what you would find in a Korean restaurant. However, Amanda reported that this was pretty tasty, although she wasn't fond of the grilled long stalks of green onion that was in the sandwich, which were stringy and hard to bite off. To be honest, I'm not sure about the 'Bulgogi' and the 'Bahn Mi' on the menu - it seems a little out of place, especially considering there are a few really amazing & cheap bahn mi places just a few blocks away.
I had Big Lou's Chicago Style sausage sandwich ($7.50), with house made sausage, pickles, mayo, pickled peppers and mustard. This had some problems. While the sausage itself was tasty, with hints of fennel, the outside didn't have that crunch and pop that a well seared sausage has - it was instead really chewy. There was also way too much mayo and pickled peppers. These elements, along with the mustard and pickles, made the sandwich taste really unbalanced.
While the location is a little out of the way, Big Lou's is certainly worth a visit. The store's commitment to local food and product is certainly admirable, and hopefully there will be a few tweaks here and there to make the space more inviting and the food a little more refined.