We Heart Swine

A fixed location is the only thing that’s static about Saucisson—the much-anticipated butcher shop that opened March 16 on Fleet Avenue in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood. Sandwich and soup specials change by the day, and a weekly rotation of bratwurst flavors will ensure that neither the neighbors nor the Lady Butchers suffer boredom anytime soon.

“The brat changing started at the farmers markets,” says co-owner Melissa Khoury. “People started getting used to it and complained when we had the same sausages two weeks in a row. We kind of created a monster, but it’s a tradition we plan to continue here.”

Don’t be fooled by the ample seating and charming decor or TV news reports saying otherwise: Khoury’s business partner Penny Barend is quick to clarify that Saucisson is not a restaurant. During peak times, tables may be taken and you’ll likely endure a line but I assure you, it’s worth every bit of the wait or occasional seat on the window ledge.

Saucisson offers a full lineup of proteins, including salami, mortadella, lamb terrine, Filipino longannisa, pork links, chops, steaks, and rillettes.

The minimalist menu of beverages includes boxed water and orange San Pellegrino Italian soda. Often times, you’ll find the featured soup available in a generous frozen portion for $10. Greens and beans in assorted flavors and half-pound packets of sliced bacon are among the growing inventory of indulgences sealed in the freezer case to have on the ready anytime you crave a meaty treat.

“We will definitely be adding another freezer in the future,” Barend says.

When customers are stumped for what to try, Khoury says tasso ham is her favorite “utility piece of meat.” The Southern-style spiced ham undergoes a day-long dry cure with a sweet and spicy paprika base dry rub. Then it’s smoked and cooked.

“It’s great with eggs benedict, sauteed and put it into an omelet, in a grilled cheese sandwich or with red beans and rice,” she says. “Lots of customers ask me to give them six slices and then a chunk. They go home and dice it and sweat it down…We leave that fat cap on so it renders out and can be a really great starter for a soup.”

Beyond the cordial reception and charcuterie, Barend and Khoury offer an abundance of educational events, whether dispensing tips for preparing a particular cut of meat or monthly opportunities to attend a hands-on class in sausage-making for a mere $35, where even a novice with the most primitive kitchen equipment will leave empowered with skills and ingredients to prepare a scratch-made breakfast sausage, among other recipes.

One of the best byproducts of the team’s whole-hog butchery approach is a baloney-textured olive loaf that utilizes trim pieces of pork and a tangy melange of olives. The cold cut will be the star ingredient in a muffaletta, the classic New Orleans sandwich, planned for the menu during this first week of April.

The desire to be part of a neighborhood is what drew the two chefs to Slavic Village, where they began planting roots in the community even before construction was underway. They will be participating again on June 5 in the Village Feast, a free community meal organized by Slavic Village Development. Khoury said they’re eager to begin buying produce grown by the Broadway Boys & Girls Club to incorporate into lunch offerings and use in recipes for the frozen foods case.

Saucisson is located 5324 Fleet Ave. in Slavic Village and is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. For more information, call 216.303.9067 or visit SaucissonCleveland.com.

— Story by Tricia Chaves, Photos Courtesy of Saucisson