Finding good meat is easier than ever, thanks to online ordering and the availability of farmers markets. So is getting your hands on all manner of exotic spice rubs to slather atop chicken, lamb, or beef. But just try finding a good butcher in this age of cryovac meats.
Even Mike Smollon hasn’t had an easy time of it—and he’s a butcher. “Nowadays the guys with butchering skills, they’re from the big supermarkets, most of them,” says Smollon. He keeps two butchers on the staff of his My Butcher and More shop in Gambrills, Maryland—“and they don’t really know the ins and outs of the trade like the guys of old. It takes a lot of skill.”
That know-how is what separates Smollon’s old-fashioned shop from the grocery-store meat merchants. That and a jovial warmth you sense the moment you walk in the door. “I’m the meathead around here,” he jokes.
A former meat salesman and chef—jobs he held for the first two decades of his working life—Smollon looks about like what you’d expect: a thick-waisted guy with stubby fingers and a blood-flecked smock. He runs the business with his mother-in-law, Freda (“Most guys can’t stand their mother-in-law, much less want to go into business with ’em”). When he gets worked up talking about, say, the differences between Prime and Choice, he sounds like any other passionate professional discoursing on the intricacies of his trade.
The lighted case up front is deceptively small—the list of meats on offer goes on and on: eight different cuts of veal; rack of Colorado lamb; Wagyu burgers; prime steaks of varying degrees of marbledness; long, ropy hanger steak; thick, restaurant-quality pork chops. There are even marrow bones for gastronomes.
The shop does a pretty brisk lunch business. The lunchmeats are all from Boar’s Head, and Smollon piles sandwiches thickly, whether it’s the terrific roast beef or a big, sloppy Reuben.
The sandwiches aren’t billed as gourmet, but like the shop itself, it’d be hard to find anything more satisfying or of better quality.
My Butcher and More, 1334-E Defense Hwy., Routes 424 and 450, Gambrills; 410-451-3296; mybutcherandmore.com.