Friday, November 25, 2011

Butcher & Bee, Charleston, SC

The New Buzz On Upper King

I’ve heard some noise lately regarding Butcher & Bee, the newest restaurant on upper King and the name even intrigued me, so we decided to give it a try. 

Pulling into their parking lot I was happy to see that they offer free parking. Not that parking in Charleston is expensive, but nonetheless it was a pleasant surprise.

When we walked in I was surprised to see that the restaurant was quite small and only had one long community table in the center of the room that I thought may have sat about 15 – 20 people.  “This is odd,” I thought – “ONE table??”

All of their menu items (which are not many in number), are listed on a blackboard on the wall.  There were four sandwiches ($5-8), a few beverages, 5-6 side dishes ($2-6) and a beet salad that was $6.00, and that could have been it.  “Hmmm…,” I thought, this is different.

Family Style Seating
Although there is an antique cash register on the counter orders are placed via an electronic ordering pad that sits beside it.  When I asked if they had any bottled water the cashier said that water was on the tables.  When I asked how to get a glass the cashier said that they were “over there” and pointed to a very large hutch with glassware and other items on it. Everything about Butcher & Bee has a community involvement feel to it, which was interesting.

I ordered the beet salad. My mom used to can beets when I was a kid and I love them. Not many enjoy them as much as I do, so I was glad that this was an option. My husband ordered the Cuban sandwich with a side of Fried Okra.

Lunch With New Friends
As we meandered over to the “community table” I saw the chair that I was going to sit in was a child’s desk chair.  When I tried to swap out another chair that was along the wall a gentleman stopped me and brought over what he said was a piano chair that was made from reclaimed SC wood.  In fact it was the plug from a wine vat.  “In fact, most of the building is made from reclaimed wood.” How nice.

If you don’t like to sit on top of people, or the thought of communal seating makes you want and run like your hair is on fire, this place is not for you.  I understand the sense of community they’re trying to capture, but sitting at a table with strangers, passing rolls of paper towels to one another, and because of the close proximity, hearing their conversations, was something that really didn’t blow my dress up.

Our food was served very quickly and I have to admit that I was surprised at the excellent food quality.  My beet salad was topped with radishes and arugula and a light dressing.  This was one of the few times that I’ve had beets that were not bitter. It was a nice change.
Beet Salad
My husband raved about the Cuban sandwich (on house made bread), and the side of pickles.  The lightly breaded okra tasted as if it had been picked that morning and the jalapeno remoulade dipping sauce was a spicy treat.

Cuban Sandwich

When we were leaving a gentleman approached us. Come to find out that “Michael” was the owner and he was wondering why we were taking pictures and writing notes.  I explained that I wrote a blog here in town and was interested in his business. I have to say that I do this in every restaurant that I visit (take notes and pictures) and although many seem inquisitive, Michael is one of the only people that inquired.
Fried Okra
After our introductions I had to ask him, “What’s with the “Bee” in Butcher & Bee?” He told me that the “Butcher” represented all that had to do with the meats and the preparation of the meats and that if you think about it, “The Bee is involved with everything else – pollination of fruits, vegetables, etc.”  I guess you could say, without the Bee, where would we be?

I also inquired about only having one table.  He explained that their hours of operation were from 11-3PM and from 11- 3AM.  They are trying to cater to the business, neighborhood and late night crowd in a community atmosphere.  He said that, “If my customers think I should get another table and business warrants it, I will get another table.”

That line stumped me a bit. All I could think of was the movie, Field of Dreams and “if you build it they will come.” 

The business side of me, contrarian to his way of thinking, was to put more tables in right away.  If as a customer I had come to his restaurant, saw one table and saw that it was full; it would be awhile before I came back again.  There’s also no waiting area if you have to wait for seating and although a very unique concept, it seems that it also might be hindering business instead of promoting it.

That being said the food was excellent and I would recommend both B’s. 


I gave Butcher & Bee 4 out of a possible 5 plates.


Butcher & Bee on Urbanspoon

Zagat Tags;
#tidal #restaurant

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