Remember when there were neighborhood butcher shops? Yeah, me neither. Back in the fabled past (when you could also get fresh milk delivered to your door every day), I’ve heard there were neighborhood shops where skilled artisans cut whole animals to order. These butchers knew the farmer who raised the animals, knew what their customers wanted, and could tell you how to cook a roast, a steak or a chop. If you were a regular, they might even save the choicest cuts just for you, trimmed just the way you like it. Now, everything old is new again, and Ben Runkle and Bryan Butler are bringing the neighborhood butcher shop back in East Austin with the newly opened Salt & Time. Since they opened the doors to their stylish, inviting space in February, I’ve found myself drifting in more than once a week to pick up handmade salumi, charcuterie and cold cuts, fresh chops and steaks for dinner, or to enjoy a quick bite for lunch. (Insider tip: Cuvee Coffee is served at the bar, and Salt & Time’s sandwiches, made on fresh Baked in Austin bread, are amazing — they’re adding salads, soups and desserts to the menu daily!)
*photography by thomas winslow
Tell your brand story in 5 words.
Ben: Neighborhood butcher, with a twist.
What was your first job?
Ben: Bussing tables at my dad’s restaurant.
Bryan: My first job was working with my father as a painter in his business. I was 12 or 13 years old.
What gets you to work every morning?
Ben: A 1996 Nissan Pickup.
Bryan: Pride. Knowing that I have a role in the community and wanting to raise awareness about my craft.
Where do you get culinary inspiration?
Ben: I love the blog Ideas in Food. We don’t do much of the modernist stuff, but I’m always getting ideas from them.
Bryan: Peers, colleagues, bloggers, food experimenters, even mistakes can lead to daily inspiration for me. You can learn a lot just by being attentive and listening. You know, be all Zen about it—be quiet and take it all in.
What other businesses do you come back to again & again?
Ben: I go to Home Slice a lot. I appreciate the fact that they’ve managed to maintain their quality as they’ve grown. East Side Kings at the Grackle is another staple, it’s right around the corner from the shop. I’m blown away with Paul Qui and his team, they are doing awesome things, and I’m excited about what they have in store with Qui.
Bryan: I support many local businesses and restaurants that support me, my business and vice versa. Eastside Pies, Franklin BBQ, The Alamo Draft House Cinema, Blackstar Co-op, Wheatsville Co-op & many others.
What’s in your fridge right now?
Ben: It’s pretty depressing in there right now.
Bryan: Local veggies, a door full of homemade preserves, a collection of various pickled veggies and condiments, a deli drawer full of meats and cheeses, beer and wine. I could open up a shop in my kitchen.
What flavors inspire taste memories for you?
Ben: Roast chicken and potatoes was one of my favorite childhood meals, and it’s one of my favorite comfort foods now.
Bryan: Every single time I order a hamburger (no cheese, mustard, no mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion), it takes me back to the very first hamburger I ever ate. I was a vegetarian until I was around ten years old, and my mom snuck me off one time for my first burger. My dad was a bit of a veggie Nazi.
Tell us about your dream dinner party–you can invite six guests (real, imaginary, living, or dead) to dinner-what, who, & where?
Ben: My friends Maura and Chap invite all their friends over when they throw parties, and they leave it up to fate to decide who comes. While this makes it tough to plan the menu, I love the sentiment. I’d keep the food simple, maybe roasted pork and root vegetables, and invite all my friends.
Get the recipe for Elizabeth Winslow’s Korean Steak Salad with Rice Noodles and Crunchy Vegetables here
(cont. from slide 8)
Click here to get the recipe for Elizabeth’s Korean Steak Salad
It’s Wednesday night at 6:30. What’s for dinner?
Ben: I’d be getting ready to close the shop and head home, so if I haven’t figured it out already, I’m probably grabbing a couple of pork chops out of the case.
Bryan: Handmade sausage (I know a guy), veggies and pasta.
see more of Elizabeth’s work on Haymakers
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I still go to my local butcher, his shop has been there for 130 years and he has all of the old ledgers from when servants came in to buy the meat for the local big houses.
Tabitha, that is amazing! What’s the name & location?
Oh I’m in Scotland!
You and Elizabeth never fail to make me miss Austin x 10. Curses you brilliant duo!
Aww, Austin misses you too!
Agreed – Austin wants you back! And yes, Elizabeth is a genius at sussing out the best and the brightest that our city has to offer. I keep discovering new places that I NEED to visit asap!
My husband and I love to go to our local butcher who is German. I love their story, and the delicious choices!
The stories alone are usually worth the trip!
Love this – I’ve been living in Belgium for the past 1.5 years, and moving back stateside next week. I’m pretty sure my butcher ranks in the top five things I’ll miss about living here (along with my cheese shop and wine guy, of course).
Europe does seem to have a bit of a leg up on the butchershops, it seems! No doubt that fostering that relationship can definitely come in handy, too – especially when you need that rack of lamb frenched or that chicken butterflied. Hope you find a great one near your new home!