By Rebecca Henely
The door handle and the walls of Butcher Bar may be adorned with vintage cleavers, but the owners of the new butcher shop and barbecue restaurant in Astoria are committed to a kinder carnivorous meal.
“If you have high-quality meat, you shouldn’t have to compromise on ethics,” said George Haramis, who co-owns Butcher Bar with Kathy Castro and Matthew Katakis.
The three friends’ establishment, at 37-08 30th Ave., has its origins in the muckraking documentary “Food, Inc.,” which argues that current meat farming practices are inhumane and not sustainable. Katakis said that after seeing the documentary the three of them were eager to be part of the local and organic food movement.
“We love grass-fed beef,” Katakis said. “We love pasture-raised animals.”
The owners of Butcher Bar make an effort to serve meat and vegetables that are organic, natural and locally grown. If they cannot get a product that has all three attributes, they ensure that the product has at least one and encourages diners to ask questions, Katakis said.
The owners buy a lot of their meat from farms in upstate New York. The animals are fed grass and not given hormones or prophylactic antibiotics.
“The animals are dying for us,” Katakis said. “We have to respect them.”
Diners at Butcher Bar can buy burgers and sandwiches that cost an average of $15, with some steak and specials going for $25. Butcher Bar also does catering. The butcher’s meat case contains cuts of pork, beef, chicken, lamb and turkey, as well as sausages and ground beef that are all prepared in-house.
“It is a little bit pricier, but it’s a lot better,” Katakis said of the organic meat.
As in a traditional butcher shop, Butcher Bar does not have a freezer but cooks all its meat right away as well as dry ages it.
“Butchering is something that is lost,” Katakis said.
He said Butcher Bar will soon expand to serving brunch and plans to open its garden in the back when the weather is warm.
While the owners of Butcher Bar had worried that Astoria would not yet support the organic and locally grown restaurants that have flourished in Brooklyn, they have found the neighborhood to be responsive since they opened Dec. 1.
“Astoria is going to be changing a lot,” said Katakis, a native of the neighborhood. “The foodie scene here is growing.”
Butcher Bar is currently open 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 5 p.m. to midnight on weekends. The restaurant will open at 11:30 a.m. after Jan. 1.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.