I just ate the tastiest roast chicken I have eaten in years, perhaps ever. And I've eaten roasted fowl all over the world, from the vaunted Bresse chickens of France to the legendary black-skinned chickens of Hong Kong, even Ethiopian roast chickens (spicy) and Japanese birds marinated in sake. This bird was a two-and-a-half pound chicken which had been raised on a small local family farm just outside of L.A, fed on clover, grubs and seeds, allowed to roam about in its open field, and -- when killed and dressed -- shipped fresh within hours to a new butcher shop in West Hollywood. (No, it's not a premium Jidori chicken from the Mao family downtown, since they don't yet sell retail.) I purchased this bird at Lindy and Grundy, Local Pastured and Organic Meats (801 N. Fairfax Avenue, between Waring and Willoughby, a block north of Melrose, Suite 105, tucked into the corner of the little coffee shop mall (323) 951-0804) They are a few blocks north of Canter's Deli and the epiphanal meat/bacon restaurant, Animal.
Amelia Posada (Lindy) and Erika Nakamura (Grundy)
You would have to be deaf to the local food world not to have been aware of the enormous and well-deserved fuss occasioned by the opening of this old-fashioned butcher shop by the two 'girls,' Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura, since they have been extensively written about for months in food blogs (Eater LA), the L.A. Times, culinary magazines (Bon Appetit, Food and Wine), on a cross-country road trip followed on Twitter and Facebook, even a 3,400-word profile just prior to last week's store opening in the Huffington Post. I restlessly waited a full day after they opened before my first visit, drinking it all in and buying that roast chicken, some sausages, and ground lamb, then returning a few days later for a few more morsels which had been ticking away in my head. The girls tell me that they will be offering some additional cooked dishes in a few weeks, so I'm looking forward to a great beef stew.
Remember this? What a real butcher's case looks like.
As real estate broker Max Shapiro is quoted in the Huffington Post article, "They're like the rock and roll butcher chicks." The two charming, vivacious and well-tattooed (married, to each other) women (Amelia's nickname is Lindy, while Erika's is Grundy), are there every day to cut up meat, answer questions, and show the excited buzzing crowd some of the specialty items they featured. I commented on the elevated rail track which led from the front door to the freezer, and Amelia (from Pasadena), explained that they received full carcasses of beef, lamb and pork which were hung there on a hook and pulled into their cutting block area, where they break them down. I mentioned my hero, Fergus Henderson of London's St. John's Butcher Shop, and Erika (originally from Tokyo and here by way of N.Y and the wonderful Blue Hill at Stone Barn Restaurant), agreed that his "Nose to Tail" concept (using every part of the animal intelligently) had been an inspiration to them. They did tell me that to order certain offal -- tripe, brains, heart, kidneys, liver -- call ahead to see if they have it that day. Sunday I stopped by and saw the blackboard sign that attested to having pig offal, so I picked up a kidney for $1.25 and a heart for $2.55, as well as more chicken for Pye and I to share while watching Mildred Pierce.
Amelia was a vegetarian for some years, until she took up butchering.
Erika is a butchering whiz with the knife and hacksaw.
About that honey-glazed smoked roast chicken, costing $15, their associate said it had been brined in a bath with sugar, salt and bay leaves... and then rubbed with the house chicken rub: onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, cumin and coriander. Roasted for 45 minutes in a 400-degree oven, it was still warm, tender and juicy when I got home and greedily consumed some of it, sharing with my wise cat, Pyewacket. Later that night, now chilled, it was equally succulent. They only prepare about a dozen birds a day now, but when the word gets out I am sure it will increase substantially. Uncooked whole chickens sell for $5.49 a pound, chicken breasts are $7 a pound, and a cooked leg or wing is $2 (a real bargain).
Erika visiting with customers on a hectic Sunday.
They only sell pastured meats from animals which have been raised on small local sustainable ranches within 150 miles of the shop... and they have personally visited each of their suppliers. (Rancho San Julian in Lompac, Reride Ranch in Lake Hughs, Rainbow Ranch Farms in Pionion Hills are some of these.) Yes, their meats are more expensive (by about 15-20 %) than the supermarket or even Whole Foods, but you know what? It's worth every penny, for both taste reasons and peace of mind. I'm thinking about buying a prime rib roast tonight... dry-aged for eight weeks, the meat is $45.99 a pound, while it is $3-4 a pound less if you get the five weeks-aged beef. A prime dry-aged bone-in ribeye is $45.99 a pound, while the New York steak, bone-in dry-aged for six weeks, is $36.99 a pound. But then again, the lamb, from Sonoma Direct Lamb in Santa Rosa, is $6.99 a pound for the ground meat and the lamb sausage is $10.99 a pound. A rack of lamb is $18.99 a pound, but a rolled lamb belly is $6.99 a pound. Ground beef averages $9 a pound, while the pork center cut loin roast is $10.99 a pound. Beef short-rib flanken (yes!) was $8.99 on Sunday, London Broil was $11.99 a pound, and an Eye Roast was $8.99 a pound.
Since I know that you are curious about what else they carry, let me elaborate while you salivate and make plans to visit. Smoked pork chops, bacon ($12.99 a pound), ham, salumi, sirloin tip, chicken steaks, faux hanger, faux tender, and flatiron steaks. Many different kinds of sausage are made in-house, from sweet and hot Italian to a kimchee pork (which was too salty for my taste.) Bratwurst and maple breakfast sausages, while Erika will be making her signature 'Gateway' sausage shortly, chicken and tofu, should be delicious. I'm going to pick up a container of their beef stock ($12), made from the slow-boiling of beef bones, a tedious task at home. They have a Rub & Spice Station, which I have yet to explore. And, oh yes, if you are a fan of pork rillettes, as I am (spicy ground pork paté), then this one is for you. I brought home an Espresso Chili, ($16.99) which must be explored, of course. (No beans, I assume. I abhor chili with beans.) As I wandered around, they pointed out they are carrying a lot of products from their artisanal friends... I'm already a fan of the Cowgirl Creamery cheese and must try the Mothercluck preserves and Bellwether Farms yogurt ($2.99). I just picked up a bottle of San Angel Mole ($8), made locally.
Yes, I'll admit it... I'm obsessed with meat. Always have been. So I'll end this paean to my two new friends and their old-fashioned butcher shop by encouraging you to stop by, drink in the atmosphere and the clean, beefy aroma... then spring for a few pounds of great steak, lamb or pork. You'll thank me for alerting you when you take your first taste of the real thing.
Lindy & Grundy is closed on Mondays. Open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 am to 7 pm, Thurs. to Saturday, 11 am to 7:30 pm, and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.