By Joe Duffy
If I claimed I was an enthusiast of Mitch’s Meats & Fish since day one, I’d be fibbing. The actuality is, I’ve been an admirer of Mitch Manoloff’s “butcher shop and more” since before his first client crossed the threshold at his brick-and-mortar. Mitch and his original staff member Katie were distributing free samples of sausage at Alive After 5, a month or so before their launch. Both my daughter and I were very impressed by our first bites. Of course, I grabbed his business card, tracked the impending premiere via their Facebook page, and have been a devout client in the three-plus years since.
If you follow me on Twitter (@JoeDuffy) or Instagram (@RealJoeDuffy), you are mindful of my reverence for the “and more” part of his enterprise. The quality and quantity of his soups are unequalled (7-8 options daily) and his sandwiches (or Sam-Mitchs) are transcendent in both taste and portion.
I’ve dispatched innumerable people to Mitch’s over the years. Inescapably, I get the what to order inquiry. It’s the proverbial pick a favorite kid conundrum. Whichever adaptation of seafood chowder or soup he has that day, perhaps would be my most resounding endorsement, and a (pick your) fish sandwich (scallops my favorite)—if I have to choose just one sandwich and soup.
But that’s all about the “and more” part. Mitch is an endangered species—a neighborhood butcher and now fishmonger, sourcing only the best suppliers such as Inland Seafood, Springer Mountain Farms, Buckhead Beef, Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork, Beeler’s, Neuske’s, and more. But how about the sausage? They’re all made in-house.
Even if you procure your meat at a higher-end supermarket, it’s all about a quick turnover at the corporate shops. Get as many customers in and out the door as expeditiously as possible. Conversely, at Mitch’s Meats & Fish, there is no pointing and selecting a piece of meat that may have been sliced days before. Mitch maintains the integrity of the product by cutting everything to-order based on your specifications and needs. If you reveal your endgame, the experienced chef will eagerly apprise you of how the meat or seafood should be cut and prepared.
A straightforward instance of a revelation to me is how one can cook steak Pittsburgh rare without a costly commercial oven producing extremely high temperatures. Mitch conveyed to position a cast iron skillet on an outdoor grill, let the intense heat escalate for several minutes, then set my red meat in. It worked. I got a Pittsburgh-rare steak without employing expensive hardware.
On many points, Mitch reminds me of local chef Todd Hogan. Both are vintage old-school culinary artists. Though Roswell’s neighborhood butcher isn’t personally an advocate of sous-vide cooking, he is highly qualified in discussing the techniques. I’ve personally witnessed him dispense critical tips on preparing food with the contemporary approach.
The highest end meats are accessible at Mitch’s—including A5 Japanese Wagyu ribeye and well-marbled Australian Wagyu ribeye. Nothing departs the market unless Mitch has cut it personally. In fact, everything is spiced by Mitch individually, such as his precooked meats and seafoods. Don’t microwave these flawlessly seasoned and prepared masterpieces. Confer with Mitch first on how to reheat and maximize quality.
Are you a skilled home or professional chef who knows what you want and how you are going to prepare it? No problem, order with 24-hours notice (48 in November and December), skip the long lines, and leave with the highest-grade carnivorous supplies.
Patrons often marvel why the Springer Mountain Farms chicken is finer at Mitch’s compared to the same product purchased elsewhere. Mitch makes sure all the silver and cartilage are detached. Woody breasts are excluded. Don’t expect that at a big-box store where speed supersedes quality. Mitch’s prestige is on every piece of flesh that departs the store. Mitch insists on the same line—size and body parts when ordering poultry.
Likewise, it’s all about superior fish and peak quality. Shop elsewhere for tilapia and catfish. He won’t sell it here. Mitch’s rule is, if he won’t eat it raw, he won’t sell it.
As a hard-line food snob, I’d rather eat splendid food with the sinners than mediocrity with the saints. With Mitch, you get the best of both worlds. The quality indisputable, Manoloff is a true mensch. Regular clients will often get a bonus from the case or kitchen. A long-time customer recently moved into assisted living. The benevolent businessman now tells her on Friday visits, just tell us what you want and it’s on the house. Obviously a woman of exquisite tastes, she wisely exits with an ample stock of soups for the weekend.
My wife and son would declare I’m neglectful if I don’t tout Mitch’s homemade Caesar salad dressing. They’ve both consumed said item at countless esteemed restaurants in assorted states. Only the famed Lou Malnati’s in Chicago is comparable, we unanimously concur.
The unapologetic capitalist clashes with the foodie purist every time I’m informed of a distinguished chef opening up his/her third… or seventh, or tenth restaurant. Failed restaurants at Avalon, The Battery, and elsewhere prove there is a point of diminishing return in quality when this happens.
The prestige of the master chef was attained by what her or his acumen directly produced. When a chef is no longer laboring in the kitchen, instead doing whirlwind tours of restaurants three, seven, and eight, the product is the chef’s in name only. Chef Capitalist’s moniker is on the product, but the skill (or lack thereof) is dependent on another cook, probably hired by someone other than Capitalist herself.
That’s not how Mitch rolls. Knowing he’s not omnipresent (like the Tooth Fairy), his reputation is not for sale. How impassioned is Mitch about quality control? “If I’m not here, the doors don’t open.” Mitch explained how once for a family emergency and twice because of illness he could not make it to the shop, so the doors remained locked.
Not sure about his ability to make candlesticks, but the multi-faceted guv’nor is not just a butcher, but also a baker. Top-shelf biscuits are baked daily, often sausage gravy is available as an accompaniment, and his occasional pies are as tasty as any full-time pastry chef can produce.
The 80 hours a week (minimum) that Mitch labors produces a diverse selection for the home chef and ready-to-eat-now devourer as well. Mitch is a savory chef, butcher, culinary advisor, businessman, pastry chef, and genuinely nice guy. Whichever one fits your needs for that day, you will find it at Mitch’s Meats & Fish. And don’t dare leave without several soups to go.
Mitch’s Meats & Fish, 30 East Crossville Road Suite 160, Roswell, GA 30075
Some positives to report about Joe’s Sports Bar & Grill of Johns Creek at the foodie intersections of Douglas and Jones Bridge. Had to take wifey once I saw they had fried pickles. Bride is obsessed with ‘em. I won’t overhype and claim I had anything that’s truly “foodie worthy.” Still, it was better than average bar food. They’ve been around for 2.5 years and super bart Bonnie said they do have a late-night crowd, even as a non-smoking place. Plenty of room outside though, if that’s your thing. Full menu served until 1 AM. Hence, I guess it’s my favorite spot for late-night food in Johns Creek… and slash Alpharetta and Roswell…
Finally made it to Spice of Thai. The Crossings at Roswell has been tough on some solid restaurants, but the Thai newcomer was getting a steady stream lunch crowd. Massaman curry combo was good, but liked duck noodle soup and steamed dumplings even more. I fully approve, though for now, my three favorites for Thai food remain: Nahm, Royal Bistro, and M Thai Street Food. Spice of Thai is good enough to try again and research if it can penetrate my top three. Thai Emerald is also praiseworthy, but haven’t been in years.
When he’s not eating, which is rare, the author is CEO of Sports Handicapping website Offshore Insiders. His bride’s gift site, Duffy Gifts is the place to go for gifts for all occasions from My Thirty One Gifts.