A man in a white coat, black gloves, and a hairnet stood behind the butcher’s case helping a curious customer navigate the extravagant cuts of meat behind its glass barrier. Within, giant tomahawk and New York cuts of steak looked big enough to fend off an attacker. A thick slab of meat impaled by a large hook was hanging behind the butcher. The scene looked as if it could have been ripped from a horror movie or used in a boxing training montage.
As I moved closer to the case at The Meat Board (6314 Camp Bowie Blvd, 844-693-6328), the newish upscale butcher/deli/gourmet-grocer/mail-order meat company, I was struck by the vibrancy of the animal carcasses. The plum purple of the raw pork and the marigold yellow of the chicken skin all lent the impression of high-quality protein on offer. You know that this meat will cook up so nicely that it can be eaten and enjoyed all by itself. The Meat Board’s lunch menu doesn’t go quite that far, but it comes close.
The menu gets right to the point, no small talk. Choose from six meat sandwiches, including the kitchen’s signature grilled steak sammy, a double-meat burger, a BLT, an air-chilled chicken breast ’wich, and a fancy chili dog. There’s also something called a “salad.” (Am I spelling that correctly?)
The room, much like the menu, conveys an air of understated sophistication. A framed vintage rodeo poster hangs above a reproduction (I’m assuming) of a Remington sculpture. The walls are lined with refrigerators filled with pre-made meals, cheeses, bottles of fine wine and champagne, jars of salsa, and a helluva lot of meat. Imagine a tiny but way less cluttered version of Roy Pope Grocery –– or Burgundy Beef Pastures but with a lunch menu. The West 7th-area grocer stopped serving lunch last year. Toward the back of the room is the doorway to The Board Room, a special events space that looks like it fits about 12-15 people. Inside, there’s a huge table, large, comfy-looking chairs, and a TV or two.
The dining room is about the size of a rich man’s shower, with three tables and a countertop lined with several stools. There’s way more seating on the heated, semi-covered patio, which is where my guest and I ended up on a recent weekday lunch.
After you order and pay at the counter, you’re given a cattle tag with your number, which you hang on a table hook –– in case you forgot about meat for a second. Iced tea and water are included in the price of lunch, and you serve yourself at a modest beverage station set near the patio.
In mere minutes, our food arrived. My order of TMB’s Signature Grilled Steak Sandwich ($15) was the stuff of dreams. Sliced beef tenderloin mingled amid blue cheese crumbles, bibb lettuce, and the house special sauce (some kind of mayo), all piled into a soft, sweet kolache bun. My guest and I shared the triumphant Doggone Good Hotdog ($10), a select frank slathered in Terlingua-style chili and shredded cheese on a sweet lobster roll. The edges of the plump frank were just a little charred, which added a little texture to the snappy tube of meat. The only near-miss was the Double Standard Burger ($12), whose twin portions of chuck and tenderloin beef patties were way overcooked and devoid of juices. All entrees are served with delicious, addictive housemade chips.
The Meat Board reminds me of small, obscure, excellent restaurants I’ve tripped into during vacations, the tapas bar or the trattoria that happened to be close to where I was staying and that I remember better than the places other people had recommended before I left home.