If you were to walk through Westport and take a left when you got to Broadway, you need only walk a few blocks more. And when you arrived at 3828 Broadway and pushed through the glass doors, there you would discover a cephalopod that has no earthly business being in a Midwest butcher shop.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, Stuart Aldridge (who has managed the shop since last November) sets a metal pan down on the counter at the Broadway Butcher Shop. Inside are baby octopus that are the color of wet Missouri clay.
“The transition from cooking to the counter has been phenomenal,” Aldridge says. The former cook at Tannin’s, The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange and Port Fonda, has been slowly adding prepared goods and his own creations to the menu after introducing a line of sandwiches in January.
The octopus spends four days in brine, before being rinsed and steamed in red wine. After that the octopus is smoked at around 165 degrees for four hours. Aldridge reaches into the metal pan, snags an octopus roughly the size of a racquetball, deftly slices it in half and hands over a bite. That bite is confusing. The body has the texture and smoke of a brisket, but the tentacles have kept the character and consistency of grilled octopus. Aldridge is thinking about adding the chilled octo-pastrami into a salad with cornichons and potatoes spiced with thyme and garlic.
“It’s New England meets Spanish tapas,” Aldridge says.
This week, the store will get an updated look with a new logo and wrap on the front windows. Aldridge will also be debuting a pulled pork sandwich, slathered in his Stu-BBQ sauce (Aldridge deems it “the perfect blend between Gates and Bryant’s,”) on rye bread from Sasha’s Baking Co. His biscuits and gravy, only available on Saturdays, has morphed into a biscuit sandwich with a poached egg and maple bacon breakfast patty. The biscuits and gravy will likely return when the weather cools.
And even though the latest season of Game of Thrones is over, Aldridge intends to continue on with turkey legs on Sunday. The 1 1/2 to two pound legs ($6.50) are brined overnight in a solution of “salt, sugar and love,” and then smoked at 225 degrees. While they’re smoking, Aldridge mops them with soy sauce, worchestershire sauce and paprika. They’re typically ready after 3 p.m. He asks that you call two days in advance to reserve a leg.
“It’s something that you don’t eat that often and you don’t get it done well when you do,” Aldridge says of the legs that began as a way for customers to toast the popular HBO series. “The skin is at that spot between chewy and not chewy and the legs are juicy. It’s everything you want in a Renaissance Fair, except good.”
In addition to the evolving menu, there are changes afoot at the store itself. The shop has added a cheese cooler (Aldridge is often dishing out slices of dairy like the black truffle gouda to those waiting in line on the weekends) and is looking at doing more meat and cheese boards.
He’s also started a small container garden in back of the shop with tomatoes, beans and peppers, as well as some herbs. As he eyes the smoker in back, he talks about possibly starting a burger night, serving steamed sliders with grilled onions on potato buns.
“I love the idea of being a gourmet grocer in Kansas City. I think we’re kind of moving toward that,” Aldridge says.[Turkey image courtesy of Broadway Butcher Shop]