The third Mystic venture from restaurateurs Dan Meiser and James Wayman is a throwback to the days where shoppers knew their local butcher.
Grass & Bone is the newest project for the partners, known for the seafood restaurant Oyster Club, where Wayman is executive chef, and Engine Room, a destination for upscale-casual American comfort fare. The hybrid butcher shop and counter service restaurant, with seating for about 50, opened on East Main Street Aug. 31, offering cuts of locally sourced meats alongside sandwiches, salads, rotisserie chicken and beer and wine.
"We want this to kind of bring back that neighborhood butcher, where you can have a conversation and say, 'I like it cut this way,' or 'I like my roast tied that way' and we'll do it," Meiser says.
Meiser has been working toward a butcher-shop concept for years. "This was supposed to be project number two for us," he says, following the opening of Oyster Club in September 2011, but it took time to find the ideal location. In the meantime, he and Wayman opened Engine Room, a destination for burgers, craft beer and cocktails, in late 2013.
At Grass & Bone, the meat is sourced from the restaurateurs' trusted farm partners: beef from Beriah Lewis Farms in North Stonington, chickens from Baffoni's Farm in Johnston, R.I. and certified-organic pork from Wild Harmony Farm in Exeter, R.I.
"It's really outstanding product," Meiser says.
Customers will find butcher-shop selections like whole chickens, pork ribs, butt and belly, filet mignon, ribeye, NY strip and assorted roasts. Special order cuts are also available.
The kitchens at Oyster Club and Engine Room currently handle butchering of whole animals in house, but "this was a neat opportunity for us to centralize that labor," Meiser says. Staff at Grass & Bone will now break down, grind, dry-age and process fresh meat for each eatery, ensuring more consistency among locations.
About 50 percent of business at Grass & Bone's fast-casual style restaurant is takeout, Meiser says, as guests pick up whole rotisserie chickens (dry-rubbed with thyme, garlic, paprika and salt) and sides ($5) like chicken fat-roasted potatoes, garlic kale, Old Bay macaroni salad and cornbread with maple butter to make a quick weeknight meal. Chickens are available in half and whole portions ($10 and $16) with a side of housemade roasted garlic mayonnaise. Other sauces like gochujang mayo, green herb vinaigrette and fermented honey mustard are $1.
Sandwiches ($8 to $12) are built on Pullman rye and focaccia breads from Farm to Hearth in Haddam and feature house pastrami, hand-carved roast beef with raw onion and Mystic Cheese Company's Melville; "good to the bone" chicken with aioli, tomato and pesto; roast pork with dirty onions and smoked ricotta, smoked kielbasa with house mustard and kraut and roasted vegetables with pesto.
Salads ($8 to $10), include a market version with fresh produce from its partner farm, Stone Acres in North Stonington, and a rough-cut Caesar with chicken fat croutons. A daily seasonal soup is $8, and for dessert, there's cheesecake with husk cherry compote. Grass & Bone also serves draft beer and a selection of wines, which are available by the glass or half-carafe.
GRASS & BONE, 24 E. Main Street, Mystic, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 860-245-4814, grassandbonect.com.