Image by Amanda Click / TheDigitel
Butcher & Bee opened quietly on October 21st with no flashy signs, no grand opening event, and none of the usual media buzz that goes along with a new restaurant opening in downtown Charleston. And that's exactly the way owner Michael Shem-Tov wanted it.
In keeping with the no-flash fashion, the sandwich shop, located at 654 King Street, is even a bit difficult to locate. Situated off of upper King Street just past Barsa, Butcher & Bee is nestled off the beaten path between Tivoli Studios and Garden and the Charleston Center for Photography. Being off the beaten path has its advantages, however. When you consider the ample parking, spacious back yard which is being converted into an urban garden and Shem-Tov's desire for Butcher & Bee to be a destination for true foodies and friends - it's really quite perfect.
The space itself, which was formerly the Charleston Garden Center, has been converted into a farmhouse-rustic yet undeniably hip dining space. Old, imperfect wood lines the walls, a rolling ladder elevates staff to lofted shelves which hold the homemade pickled vegetables, a long counter allows those waiting for take-out to watch the staff assemble meals.
One long community table with some incredible recycled iron chairs takes up a majority of the room. During lunch hours, you can bet you'll find yourself seated next to a stranger, but the community-style vibe of the shared eating space takes over quickly. Soon enough you'll find yourself chatting about nothing other than the incredible food that Butcher & Bee serves up fresh and fast.
The menu currently consists of four sandwiches and five to six sides which rotate daily. The focus on fresh ingredients is central at Butcher & Bee, and the menu reflects this. On our visit, the broccoli in our Broccoi & Cheese sandwich had been picked less than 48 hours before being served. As general manager Stuart Tracy put it, Butcher & Bee's main goal is to, "Buy local, grow local."
Once the kitchen is out of a certain ingredient, local farmers are contacted and the next day's ingredients are brought in fresh off the field (or water if you're lucky enough to snag the Triggerfish). Another thing that elevates Butcher & Bee's food above the rest is that they bake all of their own breads.
From the fluffy, thick pita used to make their gyros to the brioche buns used to hold together Korean Beef sandwiches and dry aged beef burgers, everything is made in the kitchen Butcher & Bee shares with the Bagel Shop's owner Sinan Aktar.
Not only is the food great, but so is the staff. It is safe to say the culinary skill, ambition, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit is shared by each and every one of the members of the Butcher & Bee team.
Butcher & Bee's hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week and 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The late-night hours cater mostly to the food and beverage crowd who need a chill place to eat and drink after getting off of work. A perk of dining with Butcher & Bee late-night is that you can bring your own beer and still have most everything from the daytime menu.