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It's the Butcher burger dash

By Jennifer Christman

This article was published August 21, 2014 at 2:14 a.m.


Steakburgers, served with fries and a drink, are a draw at The Butcher Shop on Fridays from April through September.

The Butcher Shop Steakhouse

Address: 10825 Hermitage Road, Little Rock

Hours: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. for burgers Friday through September; dinner from 5 p.m.-“close” Monday-Friday, 4:30 p.m.-“close” Saturday-Sunday

Cuisine: Steak, seafood, chicken, pasta, burgers

Credit cards: AE, D, MC, V

Alcoholic beverages: Yes

Reservations: Yes

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Carryout: Yes

(501) 312-2748

Since 1982, Little Rock's The Butcher Shop has been synonymous with steaks.

Now it's earning a reputation for burgers.

Wait, the dinner menu doesn't even have a burger on it, one might protest. True, these burgers aren't sold at dinner.

Wait, The Butcher Shop isn't open for lunch, one might protest. True, except one day of the week during certain months and during certain hours.

Only Fridays and only during the months of April through September (coinciding with baseball season the last three years, says owner Al Watkins), and only from the hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., The Butcher Shop -- in its polished Hermitage Road location since 1999 -- opens to serve only one thing: burgers, made from steak trimmings.

For $10, one gets a "Steakburger" with cheese and fixings, a paper basket of fries and a beverage for dine-in or to-go.

That is, if one comes early enough.

"We do sell out every Friday because we won't buy ground beef," Watkins says. "If we sell out, we sell out."

And sell out, they do. Usually by 12:30 p.m.

A girlfriend in the know invited me to go. Early. At 11:15 a.m. I arrived even earlier. By 11:05, there were already plenty of patrons filling up the parking lot and taking their place in the pay line that leads to the burger line in the kitchen. I waited for her, getting a bit nervous with each party coming in that we would turned away and left Steakburgerless at The Butcher Shop.

We weren't. Exhale.

We paid. We were asked what kind of cheese we wanted (cheddar for me; American for my friend). We enjoyed the smells and a Naughty by Nature tune as we watched the food being flipped and fried by the friendly staff. Upon receiving our burgers, we customized them with condiments (mustard, ketchup, mayo, onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles) and toted them, with our fries and drinks, out to the dim, cool dining room where we seated ourselves. Whew.

Admittedly, we felt accomplished -- even special. Like we were in on a secret and we got a prize. This must be why people camp out in Black Friday lines, we discussed. Only we'd never go to the trouble for electronics, just edibles.

The juicy burger, seasoned with a pronounced pepper flavor and pile of pleasing skin-on fries, was worth the rush.

Just don't attempt it next week. Steakburgers will take a Labor Day weekend hiatus on Aug. 29.

Those who only know The Butcher Shop from the swift, serve-yourself Steakburger Friday might not recognize the restaurant at dinner, where the mood is calm and the emphasis is on solid service.

We didn't have to lift a finger, only a fork, which we did gladly, sampling our shared Cajun Sauteed Shrimp appetizer ($8.95), a zesty skillet of six nice-size shellfish and butter. Don't let them take the skillet away until you've soaked up every last bit with the complimentary rolls. Other appetizers ($3.95-$9.95) include shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, quesadillas, sauteed mushrooms and a few dips.

While there are a half-dozen seafood, chicken and pasta dishes, The Butcher Shop's emphasis is on steaks, ranging from $18.95 for a 12-ounce top sirloin to $35.95 for a 14-ounce filet. Steaks come with a substantial house salad and a choice of a fluffy baked potato served plain or loaded (with sour cream, butter, cheese, bacon and green onions) or fries. Substitution prices range from $1.50 to $2 for those who prefer a Caesar salad, soup, sauteed vegetables, a twice-baked potato or cup of mushrooms as a side. The Butcher's best side, however, might be the plush creamed spinach ($3.50).

My superbly tender, subtly seasoned 6-ounce bacon-wrapped filet ($23.95)was cooked to the requested medium rare.

My date voiced initial concern his lightly seasoned 12-ounce rib-eye ($22.95) might be a touch red for medium-rare, then I didn't hear his voice for a good while as he devoured it.

Those who prefer more spirited steaks can request that theirs be served au poivre ($2.50), encrusted with black pepper and served with a brandy demiglace, or blackened ($1.50) with spicy seasoning.

Sweets ($3.50-$6.50), for those not stuffed, include a brownie sundae, chocolate creme brulee, sizzling apple pie or various flavors of Ric's Gourmet Cheesecakes made in-house.

Weekend on 08/21/2014

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