I only recently discovered the Block & Board butcher shop in Burlingame, and what a wonderful surprise it was! Several people had recommended it to me, and so, consolidating our need for deli meats, stuff to grill for the weekend and something for dinner, my husband and I stopped in.
Oh my gosh, it's nothing but meaty goodness from one end to the other.
Block & Board (8421 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.) offers take-out BBQ, including baby-back ribs and pulled pork, prepared in house; sliced meats by the pound, such as roast beef, ham and turkey—brined, rubbed, smoked and roasted on the premises; fresh meat in the butcher case, with items as unusual as duck breast, or as classic as New York steak; sandwiches to order; and even premium local wines and draft beers.
Here's the thing that really sets Block & Board apart, though: All of their meats are sustainably and humanely raised, and all come from local ranchers. I mean, really local, as in the ranchers deliver the meat to the store themselves on a regular basis. And trust me, you can taste the difference that makes.
We weren't able to wait to get home to sample a slice of the smoked turkey breast, which tasted like actual turkey, but with a hint of cumin. We had the barbequed baby-back ribs for dinner and were similarly wowed by the fantastic flavor of the meat, as well as the spicy, not-too-sweet sauce.
We also got a pound of the house-made pork, parsley and parmesan sausage links for Saturday's grill. And again, we were astounded by the incredible, fresh flavor.
Erick Paulson is the owner of Block & Board. He says — and it turned out to be true — that when you eat meat that is so thoughtfully raised, there is more nutrition in it, and it actually fills you up more than commercially-raised meats.
I think we've all gotten used to the pre-packaged meat that comes from a long way off and, even if it's grass-fed or humanely raised, tastes sort-of bland. We don't even notice it anymore. But the meat you get at Block & Board has the kind of flavor I imagine meat tasted like in the days when one got it directly from the rancher within a day or so of its butchering.
Now, I realize that all this talk of meat may not be appealing to those who don't partake, but as Paulson said, "If a vegan were to open a butcher shop, this is what it would look like." I totally saw, and tasted, what he meant.
The products he sells make you feel like you are doing the right thing by the animals that provide the meat. You are also doing the right thing for the environment by eating local products that don't have to be shipped far, and that are raised by ranchers who are protective of the land on which they raise their animals.
By the way, Block & Board also sells prepared sandwiches and sides that sound amazing. How about a slow-smoked pork shoulder sandwich in house-made barbecue sauce, topped with apple celery slaw on a Portland French pub bun? Or the Burlingame Bánh mí: slow-roasted candied pork belly on a Portland French baguette with Jalapeño-ginger aioli, pickled vegetables and cilantro. Or the Smoke House Cuban: house-made ham, and smoked, roasted pork, grilled and pressed with Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard?
Sides include beef chili, burnt-ends baked beans, potato salad, mac and cheese — all made in-house. You can either dine in or take out. Add a glass or bottle of unique, local ales, ciders, IPAs or Pilsners — or a glass of Yamhill Valley Vineyards wine — and you're all set. Other wines from around the region are sold by the bottle to take home too.
Block & Board opened just a year and a half ago, according to Paulson, and it's an excellent addition to the other popular Burlingame establishments nearby. It's also a dream come true for meat eaters who want to do the right thing for their palate, and the planet.
Rating: Extraordinarily sincere
Georgina Young-Ellis moved to Multnomah from Queens, N.Y., in 2015. She explores the world outside of big-box chain stores to find local businesses intent on customer service, customer satisfaction and a pleasurable customer experience. To read more about her experiences at Portland-area shops, visit Searching4Sincerity.com.