13 oz. Mishima Wagyu with side of sweet and spicy brussels sprouts and shallot butter
Piece of Meat opened with a bang back in 2018 as an artisan butcher shop that marched to the idiosyncratic beat of Mid-City. It swiftly collected accolades on cooking shows and in the national press from its perch near the foot of Bayou St John.
The world has changed much since then. Piece of Meat weathered the pandemic by trying on different sales models, but ultimately its position as an independent put it at a disadvantage with larger retailers like Whole Foods, whose vast purchasing power could squeeze more profit out of slim margins thanks to volume. So, in April Piece of Meat grabbed the steer by the horns, flipping the script and reopening as a full-on steakhouse. The result is an eclectic charmer that reflects the “Don’t Bow” vitality of owners Leighann Smith and Daniel Jackson.
“We were at this weird impasse of what we were going to do,” Smith said regarding the decision. “We knew that we wanted to stay open, it was just figuring out a way to stay open that made sense.” Building on the success of prior “steak nights” the duo decided to go all in as a full-service restaurant with a wine and bar program to match.
To grab more seats, they relocated the bar and cleared out the deli equipment, then added some flair (like a wine rack welded by a friend) to complete the turn. They already had a hot line they’d used for lunch service, so the necessary build out was relatively minor. The scrappy result retains all the character of the original shop.
This is not your dad’s steakhouse – the dress code is more full-sleeve tats than camelhair blazers. Beef tallow candles serve dual duty as illumination, as well as a spread – as the fat melts, smear the softly rendering goodness on the bread basket’s focaccia. Appetizers include house-cured County ham, paired with dewy sweet cantaloupe and pops of flaked sea salt. Another option of briny fresh sardines over a bed of fennel and blood orange segments clears the palate for the meats to come.
Regarding steaks, the sharable ones tend to rotate whereas the individual ones are more fixed. Recent sharables include a goliath 60-oz porterhouse. Regarding the individual choices, Mishima Wagyu is a cut on the leaner side, with intermuscular fat rather than banding helping to provide the flavor. “It is kind of like a New York strip but without that line of sinew running through it,” Smith said. A larger 20-ounce Prime Ribeye gives steak lovers the fat caps and lovely marbling they crave. There is Filet, somewhat grudgingly (“We keep a filet on because there is a certain type of person who wants a filet and usually doesn’t want anything else,” Smith said). If you must have it, consider the steak Tartare appetizer which features diced filet with all the traditional mix-ins plus a Worcestershire aioli. Regardless of what you order, the meat adheres to the strict standards that guided the original butcher shop. “It is all hormone and antibiotic free, sourced from well treated, happy animals. We haven’t changed any of the ethics,” Smith said.
Sides include the loaded Million Dollar Twice Baked Potato distinguished by crispy ribeye bits in lieu of bacon. Another dish of “Sweet & Spicy Brussels Sprouts” derives its name from local Three Brothers Farm cane syrup and Sriracha. Vegans and vegetarian need not despair – both can be readily accommodated by request. “We want to make sure everyone is happy.”
Piece of Meat Steakhouse, 3301 Bienville St., Mid-City. 504-372-2289, Pieceofmeatbutcher.com
About the Chef
Leighann Smith and Daniel Jackson are two meat-crossed wanderers who found themselves and each other in New Orleans. Smith hails from Marin County, California whereas Jackson came to New Orleans by way of Buffalo, New York. Both were seekers in search of a new home and found it here in Mid-City. Smith honed her chops at the Link Group’s excellent Cochon Butcher and soon after met Jackson, who came to work with her there. Piece of Meat, which began as a pop-up, arose as a red-blooded brick and mortar butcher shop slash deli in 2018.