In celebration of my first ladies’ night out as an old married lady and the end of 2012, my friend Katie G treated me to dinner at The Branded Butcher in downtown Athens. Having been there only one other time for drinks, I was so excited to see what their menu had to offer.
The Branded Butcher opened its doors in the Spring of 2012, and is focused on the art of charcuterie while embracing the local farm to table concept. The space is simple and straightforward: old exposed brick walls, warm lighting, cafe style tables, comfortable bar area, and local art displayed throughout.
We started the night with some cocktails…I can’t resist a champagne cocktail so close to New Year’s Eve so I went with the Moulin Rouge (Death’s Door Gin, housemade orange bitters and grenadine, and Champagne). Katie went with her tried and true dirty martini. Both delicious.
Totally starved and needing to make the 8:15 showing of Anna Karenina at Athens Cine, we quickly ordered some items….The charcuterie menu showcased a great variety and everything sounded delicious (except for maybe the trotters- not sure I can get into that). Katie insisted on ordering the pork belly confit and the scotch egg. With oysters being one of the chef’s favorite foods, we also decided on a half dozen raw oysters.
Next up- Charcuterie.
Pork Belly is one of those things that I’ll always try but usually one bite will suffice. This dish however changed my mind. It had the perfect smokey flavor and crispness to it that went well with the creamy deviled egg puree and fresh watercress. I could’ve eaten this one all by myself.
I’d never heard of a scotch egg before but when Katie described it as an egg wrapped in sausage and then fried; how could I resist? This tasty dish was served up with a celery root remoulade and whiskey gastrique. Over and over we gushed about how yummy it was until sadly the sausage/egg ball of goodness was gone and we were left with an empty skillet.
Next we decided to have a little green and shared the White Salad. An interesting juxtaposition of bitter and creamy: Frisee greens, macrona almonds, mozzarella cheese, giant white beans, and an olive vinaigrette.
We foolishly ordered another dish to share; we simply couldn’t resist the mussels.
After an already scrumptious meal, these mussels were another pleasant surprise. These delightful morsels were served up with caramelized onion brodo, olives, chickpeas, orange, farro, toasted fennel aoli, and toasty bread to sop up the broth.
Although we had to skip dessert do to our engagement with Keira Knightley‘s latest period piece, we had a lovely evening with the butcher. I know I will be back soon.