Delectable pieces – Hearing the growl for red meat at Lets Meat on the Avenue


Walking down the Avenue with a bag of bratwurst from Lets Meat, I live the embodiment of a dream.

I know what it is like to be truly attractive; heads turn and tongues hang loose, a low whine escapes one admirer who just cant get enough of how good I smell.

But for me the attention is just a fantasy, the love is directed at my plain brown paper bag brimming with brats and every dog I pass (and the Russian man behind me in line at the library who says, Do I smell sausage?) seems to feel a primal adoration for it.

At home I will find that the brats from Del Rays new butcher shop, Lets Meat on the Avenue, are mild, their flavor is derived from the freshness of the meat rather than the heavy handed salt or caraway of lesser links.

They smell light and keenly tasty- ideal for a beer bath and a little kraut on the side. They are the perfect backdrop for the expression of an individuals love aff air with fl avor. Dogs may desire brats raw, but human afi cionados eat them with a tender specifi city of condiment (many of which are available for sale on the simple shelving in the shop.)

In fact, the whole of Lets Meat is a backdrop for the expression of flavor. The shop, open now in the location that was once occupied by Cheesetique, is dedicated to freshness and quality, and Steve Gatwick, with his charming accent (by way of Australia and Britain) and handsome smile brings to mind something old-world and gracious. Leaning against the case in his spotless butchers whites and blue apron he seems at ease in the store that has quickly become part of life on the Avenue.

Del Ray has its share of foodies, and as a community it values organic, locally sourced foods of high quality. The foodie bloggers and local press have made much of the fact that on its fi rst Saturday in business Lets Meat sold out of product, but given the Avenues receptiveness to quality foods paired with an educated staff , it shouldnt be surprising.

The meat off ered for sale at Lets meat is locally produced, coming largely from Fauquier County (except for the organic chickens, sourced from Delaware,) and is hormonefree.

The meat itself is exceptionally mild.

One is so unused to how clean meat smells when it is raised and handled beautifully, but preparing flank steak from Lets Meat is like handling an organ clean enough for transplant. It is exceptionally red and has a refined marbling; it is so perfect as to be worthy of Andy Warhol.

Bacon, too, is lovely. Cured in brown sugar it is cut medium-thick and cooks up meatily with a gorgeous chew- it is the perfect bacon for wrapping scallops because, for bacon, it is moderately lean.

Eating locally is ethical; it supports local farms and small business owners, is more energy effi cient, and buying locally feels good. Those mutts that love my bratwurst aura are mutts I know and love, their people are my people, my friends and my neighbors and the deeply attractive smells their meats will create as they grill will waft in my windows.

Mr. Gatwick knows our community (hes a neighbor too) and he knows his meats.

The huge chalkboard on the rear wall of the store lists specials, but walking to shop for dinner makes everything feel special already. The dogs are grateful too. Mr. Gatwick offers small and large smoked bones for sale, and everyone is talking about them.