When I was little, my mom would take me to the neighborhood butcher in Chun Hoon Market every week as she picked out cuts of meat for dinner. We were such regulars there that I called the butcher Uncle Burt. And beyond simply taking her order, he would give her tips and new ideas on how to cook and what to make.
Over time, supermarkets with pre-packaged meats made our visits to Uncle Burt a distant memory. When was the last time you talked to someone who knew how to break an animal down, and provide useful advice you could take home about the meat they provided? Chuck Wakeman is about to change that with his new Butcher & Bird, which just opened on the second floor of SALT in Kakaako.
You wouldn't know it by looking at him, but Wakeman has been a butcher for 17 years. He wanted to learn how to cook to further his food knowledge, so got a job at the Whole Ox in Kakaako (remember that place?) in 2012. Six months later, a friend got him a job on the opening team for Vintage Cave. "Talk about a learning curve," Wakeman recalled. "I was eager to learn, and Chris (Kajioka) knew that I was a food professional in some capacity, so it worked out."
It was that training at Vintage Cave that gave Wakeman a more sublime perspective of creating flavors and textures that provide a more elevated dining experience ... and what makes his place different from any other butcher shop (and Uncle Burt).
There's a case full of meats and cheeses for home use, but since a lot of you don't have time to cook — especially at lunchtime — Butcher & Bird is making meats to eat, as well. When you go to Butcher & Bird, you'll see that he and his crew are actually making the sausages that they're serving. He also has his own curing room (pending department of health approvals) so you'll see more things on the menu as time goes on. Oh, and that menu ... remember, Wakeman learned to cook at Vintage Cave. He's serving sausages, but these aren't like ordinary hot dogs. They're handcrafted sausages, each with their own blend of spices, all with toppings and pickles that are made in-house, so you'll see the difference in the professional quality. Just a word of caution: every bite is a big one, so if you're on a date, grab a knife and fork.
These are some of the items on the soft opening menu, but as you read this there are already new sandwiches and bowls being added. They also just started serving dinner.
Butcher & Bird is currently open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, but hours may adjust after their grand opening this Saturday, June 16. Validated parking is available on the street or in the adjacent SALT Kakaako parking structure.
Butcher & Bird
324 Coral St. #207