Every town, village and hamlet has one.
There’s one place, and it usually serves food of some kind, where you can walk in and get a palpable sense of the community. Within a few minutes, you can feel the pulse of what is going on – what is on the minds of the locals.
If you ever find yourself in Forked River, a place where we find ourselves every day, go to The German Butcher. Go there on a Friday, early afternoon. The place will be brimming with activity, regardless of the time of year.
Even before you get a chance to head on over to the dining area, you can see plenty of activity going on at the center of this long building. This is where the counter with all of the wonderful meats, sausages, salads and other prepared foods are encased – beautiful, scrumptious things made with love from the Barsch family and their employees. Sure, they have been a part of the Forked River community for over 40 years (which says quite a lot right there), but the Barsch tradition of butchering and sausage making started more than a century ago in Germany. They maintain a level of quality that is hard to match in this area.
And now, I’d like to tell you a little story. It’s a happy tale about sausages…
If you like meat-in-casing action, then The German Butcher is like a fairytale story – except for the fact that it’s all real and it’s all tremendous. Every sausage is handmade there, and they have their own smokehouse, so you have all the elements for scrumptious sausage magic. And they’re not limited by their name; they make sausages that are not strictly German. Their chorizo is about as good as I have had outside of Spain. And when it’s grilling season (I know for some of you, grilling season never ends, but play along for a sec), you can’t do much better than some hot dogs from The German Butcher. They got that perfect combination of big meaty flavor and that satisfying snap when you pierce the outer casing. I have grown particularly fond of the jalapeno hot dogs. Give me one with mustard and sauerkraut…and a little privacy, please.
Of course, The German Butcher provides all the wares you would expect from a butcher and a deli: different cuts of meat, homemade cold cuts, prepared foods, and potato salads galore. Make sure you take a number, though – you will need to take a number. The place is usually busy enough so that having your little scrap of paper with a number on it is of the utmost importance. Don’t be intimidated by the large selection and the rush rush of the customers, because the people behind the counter are good folk who will take care of you. They are a chatty lot.
Hungry yet? Good, so come join us on our merry way as we had out lunch that particular Friday amongst the locals. Do they make good sandwiches there? Do they make good sandwiches there?!?!? As if…
These two lovelies were on the specials for that day: a lamb burger and a Reuben panini. Note the little stains of red on the bun: that burger was cooked just the right way for me; enough to not be baa-ing, but enough pink to know that it was alive at some point. And as far as the panini goes…well, the corned beef is homemade, the sauerkraut is homemade, the bread was clearly not store-bought, and they didn’t skimp on the cheese, so yeah, you could say it was a darn good sammich.
While you are eating one of their darn good sammiches, sit and observe the other folks doing the same. Great food experiences don’t always have to occur in a sleek and schwanky dining area; it can be in a busy local butcher shop, surrounded by people taking a break from their crazy lives to take a breath and enjoy a moment of yum.
Forked River German Butcher – 109 Lacey Road, Forked River. 609.693.7100.