In the past 5 years, Richmond has seen a handful of restaurants open up with a focus on high-quality, local food. The result has been, well, it’s been awesome. Pulling from the best of the North and the South, the Richmond culinary scene is a unique hybrid of influences. So when a new place in historic Church Hill called Metzger opened its doors, we were stoked. Part local butchery and part German inspired restaurant, Metzger is more than a welcome addition, it’s a twist on the familiar. And sometimes it’s those kinds of modifications that makes a place brilliant. Just don’t call it traditional. Co-owner and Executive Chef Brittanny Anderson sat down with us for some great food and great conversation.
Metzger is both a restaurant and a butchery. That’s a new concept for Richmond. How did that idea come about?
Brad Hemp and Chris Mattera, who own Sausage Craft, were initially going to open a retail storefront for their sausages. I knew them and I convinced them to let me in on it. It turned out that we found this space and it lent itself to more of a restaurant than a retail butcher shop. I liked the concept of having both, so we decided to bring in both and hope that it worked. I think that it does because it’s divided enough that it blends well to our needs. It wasn’t necessarily a coherent thought process at the beginning to bring these elements together, but we use so much of each other’s stuff. Most of the meats in the case are also on the menu. You can buy the exact same pork chop that we cook with.
There are three owners. Could you give us a brief background on them and what they are bringing to Metzger?
I’m the chef and I do all the food, the ordering and the things on the creative side of things here. Nathan Conway is our leader on the butchery side of things, our customer service and front of house. Our other owner, Brad Hemp, is the co-owner of Sausage Craft and he runs our wine selection. Then we also have a retail manager and bar manager.
How does traditional German cuisine pair with Southern cooking? Are they compatible?
I wouldn’t call what we’re doing traditional, but I’d call it German inspired. We take traditional German ideas and modernize them with the use of American ingredients. For example, it’s in the middle of summer so we’re using a lot of corn. It isn’t common to find corn on menus in Germany – but we’ll put it in with traditional dishes like schupfknudln [German dumplings] and maultaschzn [German ravioli]. There’s a strong American influence in our food. I care about sustainability and sourcing locally. We use produce from several local farms including Victory Farms, Manakintowne, and Harmony Hill.
What’s your favorite item on the menu? What has been the favorite among customers?
By far, the most popular item on the menu is the pork chop. We do a whole uncut pork chop. No trimming, no Frenching, just super rustic, big and fat. We brine it in beer, lemon, sugar and salt. After that we grill it, pop it in the oven, and then serve it with spaetzle and maitake mushrooms. My personal favorite on the menu is the tomato salad and I love our snack menu. We have so many fun little snacks. It’s easy to come in here and have a couple of glasses of wine and get really full on little things. Our chicken liver mousse and our trout rilletes are two highlights that people really like.
This is a very exciting time in Richmond’s culinary scene, particularly in the Church Hill neighborhood. Was it a conscious decision to be located in this part of the city?
When my husband and I first moved back to Richmond after five years in New York City, we originally thought Jackson Ward would be where we would open. While we were gone, we had no idea that Church Hill was popping off in the way that it had been. Church Hill is such a great place to be in general, and we’re so close to our other family – The Roosevelt – who has been so kind to us. I live four blocks from here and I can walk or ride my bike to work every day. We’ve always wanted to be in a neighborhood that was up and coming, diverse, and one that had the urban feel that we became used to in New York. I think we found all of this in Church Hill.
We left in 2007 and came back in 2012. There’s been such a big shift in Richmond’s culinary scene. I was talking to Jason Alley [of Pasture and Comfort] about this the other night. Pasture, Heritage, Mag Pie and The Roosevelt – have all opened in the last three years. My husband and I didn’t realize that this would be what we’d be coming back to but we are stoked. We love everybody who’s involved in that community. It’s been such a great place to grow as a business owner, to get advice and just be a part of such a supportive community. It reaffirmed our decision to move back.
We’re so stoked to have you guys in town. What are your plans for the future?
We’re working on building up our retail business and we plan to start doing whole animal butchery and butchery demos for people to learn about what they are eating. We also have plans to start doing a Sunday supper. We already have some things in the works and some cool plans lined up that will be implemented within the next month.
Metzger is located in the historical Church Hill neighborhood. Stop by for artisanal meats and dinner. Learn more about the butchery and restaurant by visiting their website here.