Meat and sweets: Main St. butcher, Water St. crêpes

Tired of the meat market? We're not talking about the bar scene. We're talking about the rows of glistening packaged flesh in local supermarkets. Here's a suggestion to liven up your meat-life.

"We want to bring back the village butcher," says Ryan Ford from behind his newly installed display case in the West Main shops, right next to Feast!

 "There aren't many supermarkets in town that employ people who know how to cut meat," Ford says. "We felt there was a real void there." Filling that well-cut organic meat void is Ford's The Organic Butcher, which opened this past weekend.

Unlike most supermarkets, The Organic Butcher will work almost exclusively with the half-dozen or so certified organic farms in Virginia. In addition, Ford plans to dry-age the shop's meat. According to Ford, who opened the shop with his father-in-law and brother-in-law, this creates a more intense taste and allows the cow's natural enzymes to tenderize the meat.

"Most meat producers don't do this because they lose poundage," he says. Of course, this high-end beef has a high-end price, but Ford says that by using the "whole cow," he'll be able to offer cheaper cuts as well.

Ford also offers special orders. Need a couple pounds of Belted Galloway, Berkshire Pork, or some other rare breed you loved in New York City or enjoyed at a market in Paris? Ford will hunt it down.

What does all this mean for Charlottesville meat lovers? It means tasty premium meat and rare-breed cuts that can't be found anywhere else. It means knowing where the meat comes from– all selections will be identified by farm– and how it was raised. The shop will even offer field trips to farms at its other location in McLean, and might do the same here. It's about the old-fashioned art of butchery and the new organic trend: raising happy cows on fresh grass and open land.

Of course, there's still no happy ending for the cow, but what a way to go!


The Flat's opening act

 Although The Flat sounds more like the title of a Harold Pinter play than the name of an eatery, when you find out it's a new crêperie, it becomes a delicious play on words.

Still, a theater reference isn't off the mark. The Flat's owner, Lauren McRaven, sister of local theater maven Amanda McRaven, got the idea for her crêpe place when she tagged along with LiveArts to a theater festival in Edinburgh.

"I loved the small crêpe stands at the festival," says McRaven. "They were so quick, just basic options, and fairly cheap."

If all goes according to plan– meaning if construction is finished and she gets her permits– The Flat will have its grand opening December 14. Dish took a look-see at the place behind the Jefferson Theater on Water Street. To the place whose former incarnations had been a popcorn factory and an apartment, she's added a brick patio, an iron gate, and two streetlights.

 The Flat will serve both "savory" and sweet crêpes. "You can be very diverse– you can put anything in them," she says.

For example, order a crêpe stuffed with chicken and fresh vegetables, or dessert crêpes with fresh fruit, yogurt, and caramel. She'll also have a special hot chocolate made with real melted chocolate, and coffee from Lester's Best in Staunton.

The Flat will be open from 11am to 8pm Monday thru Thursday, and 11am to midnight Friday and Saturday.

So far, the biggest obstacle for McRaven has been setting up the unusual little space. "If I had known beforehand how difficult it was going to be," she muses." I might not have done it."

Fortunately for crêpe lovers, McRaven isn't psychic.

The Flat: the new take-away crêperie on Water Street plans to open December 14. < br>