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Meat them at Selwyn: The New York Butcher Shoppe

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A cake shop, fish market, wine and chocolate shop, coffee/art shop, a German chocolate shop, and a butcher shop all have opened on a small section of Selwyn Avenue in Myers Park. For the Charlotte gourmand, Selwyn is the closest we have to an organically grown gourmet strip.

The story of The New York Butcher Shoppe is not complicated. Jed Kampe and his mother Susan bought the franchise, headquartered in Greenville, S.C., with 10 stores currently, and opened this small 1,500-square-foot shop in November 2010. Kampe hired butcher Keith Roybal, who cut his teeth, um, knife, at steakhouses, and Executive Chef Nick Liles, who makes the ready-to-eat items.

The primary focus, though, is meat. Beef, pork, chicken, lamb, veal, bison, rabbit and oxtail can be found behind the glass display case. (Both the rabbit and oxtail were special orders, but Kampe always orders more to see if there is demand.) All of the beef sold is either USDA Prime or Choice, but Kampe says that Black Angus Choice is a step above USDA choice because all cattle have certified Black Angus pedigrees.

Establishing a relationship with a butcher allows you to have your meat cut or prepared to order. Beyond the obvious thickness of a steak, a butcher can cut meat away from the bone on a standing rib roast, for example, so the meat can be thoroughly seasoned, then tied together. Also you can find the unusual cuts such as a "Bacon Chop," a bone-in pork chop with a strip of belly meat attached, or a veal breast. You may have to order these cuts in advance. Butchers are also able to deliver the less common parts of the animal, such as lamb neck or hanger steak.

I tried the well-flavored USDA Choice T-bone, which had a sizable buttery soft filet, looking almost like a Porterhouse. If you buy a quality piece of beef, the less you do to it, the better. This steak only needed seasoning and a grill.

Dry aged beef is one of the Butcher Shoppe's biggest sellers. Part of the reason behind the popularity of dry aged is the increased umami taste and the natural breakdown of the muscle fibers resulting in a cut of beef that is remarkably tender. But keep in mind, beef doesn't need to be aged more than 21 days to achieve this taste.

The chicken at the Butcher Shoppe comes from Ashley Farms, and the pork is from a "regional farmer," Kampe says. The ground buffalo from Carolina Bison is priced at $9.99 per pound.

All sandwiches on the daily boards are made with Boar's Head cold cuts, and entrées are sold in two sizes: for two or the family. Renditions such as the cheesy lasagna and profusion of salads and sides are popular. I was surprised, however, that the meatloaf contains a high fructose corn syrup barbecue sauce. Sides range from $4 to $5, entrées for two are $7 to $11, while the family-sized (feed four or more) are $19.99 to $22.99. The Butcher Shoppe also has a small selection of cheeses and some wine.

Some will say the meat prices are higher than the packaged meat in the grocery store, but when looking at the grade of meat, the prices are in line. Besides, you get what you pay for.

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