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!)
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 Kingsat 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 withQui.
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.
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.
Kitchen Inspiration: Korean Steak Salad with Rice Noodles and Crunchy Vegetables
Salt & Time is known for their pork, handmade sausages, salumi, and charcuterie, but they also have an impressive selection of fresh beef, lamb, goat and chicken, all locally-sourced and expertly cut on site.
Steak & Marinade:
- ¾ pound bavette steak (substitute flank or skirt steak if bavette not available)
- 2 Tbs gochujong (Korean hot pepper paste)
- 1 2” piece ginger, grated
- 2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbs soy sauce
- 1 Tbs gochujong
- 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane grater
- 2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbs grapeseed or other neutral flavored oil
- pinch brown sugar
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 Tbs soy sauce
- ½ pound buckwheat ramen (substitute regular highest-quality ramen noodles or buckwheat soba), cooked to al dente, drained and rinsed under cold water
- 1 bunch radishes, cut into julienne
- 4 carrots, cut into julienne
- ½ small red onion, slivered
- ½ pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 5 oz mixed baby greens
- 1 handful pea shoots or sunflower sprouts
- toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Stir marinade ingredients together and rub into steak. Marinate for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine ingredients for vinaigrette and set aside. Heat a cast-iron grill pan on the stove until smoking hot. Sear steak for 3-4 minutes per side (to medium rare), and set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Slice steak against the grain into paper thin slices, add to big bowl with salad, pour dressing over and toss everything together. Place in serving bowls and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.