What better (or wurst) place to celebrate a meat-heavy festival like Octoberfest than in a butcher shop? On Monday, October 27, Petaluma's Thistle Meats will be teaming up with local chef Mark Malicki to offer the shop's third pop-up dinner.
There will be plenty of meat on offer, from a house-made charcuterie plate and raw grass-fed beef with horseradish cream and smoked salt to choucroute garnie with sauerkraut, house-made bratwurst and sausage, braised rabbit and pork belly, plus breaded pork cutlets with "Brussels kraut" and a fried egg. Also planned are potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream; beet and butter lettuce salad; smoked sturgeon with leeks and buckwheat crepes; "pot-roasted" celery root; and wild king salmon with savoy cabbage, fennel, dill, and Gravenstein apple.
In keeping with the Octoberfest theme, Thistle Meats will be supplanting the 24 bistro-style seats set up around the shop's butcher table with beer garden benches and picnic tables out back (bring your sweaters!) They'll also be taking reservations this time, while still leaving seats open for walk-ins.
Thistle Meats owner Molly Best, a Petaluma native, had wanted to work with Malicki for over a year, since she had first tasted the delicious and very inventive food he was cooking several nights a week at the Casino Bar and Grill, a longtime dive bar and locals' hangout in the small West Sonoma town of Bodega. "He had a freedom, a creativity," to his style of cooking that Best admired and felt would be a great fit with her future shop. Equally important, a chef who could produce great food in a cramped, bar-noisy space on nothing but a flat-top griddle and a few burners, as Malicki was, would probably be able to roll with the challenges of running a pop-up bistro in a butcher shop.
Once Thistle Meats opened in early 2014, Malicki "became a great customer," Best said. They launched the first pop-up dinner in September; they hope to continue hosting the dinners every other Monday. "It's fun, it gets the staff inspired, it's rewarding," said Best, and so far, the community response has been even better than they expected. "It has the feeling of a supperclub," said Best. "It's very intimate; the setting is super-casual but you're totally taken care of." Later seatings often include the shop's butchers, along with regular customers and industry folks from other local food- and wine-related businesses.