Butcher Russell Flint spent five years in the meat department of Whole Foods but didn’t learn to butcher whole animals until he worked as a sous chef under Renee Erickson at her Seattle restaurant Boat St. Café. Flint started the butcher shop, in part, “to educate customers about animal parts they don’t often see in the market because no big meat processor does those cuts.” At Rain Shadow passersby can peer through windows into the meat locker where carcasses hang on hooks, as well as peek into the aging room to view rolls of seasoned pancetta and rib roasts wearing tags marked with their “ready by” dates. The store sits at the entrance to Melrose Market, a collection of unique shops and restaurants, across from The Calf & Kid artisan cheese shop (see below). In the white-tiled prep area visible behind the butcher case, the staff may be stuffing sausages, layering terrines, or even carving up a whole pig. The steaks, chops, roasts, chickens and rabbits that fill the glass display case are all from a handful of local farms.
The grass-fed beef is raised for as long as three years (18 to 20 months is more typical) and Flint ages the whole carcass for two weeks, which makes it unusually tender and flavorful for non-corn-fed beef. Breaking down the whole animal allows him to carve out uncommon cuts, such as pork brisket, veal flank steak, or Teres Major, a seldom-used shoulder muscle, sometimes called the “Butcher’s Tender.” There’s only one in every animal. Lean, affordable, yet as flavorful as rib-eye, it’s just the sort of item that Flint hopes will spark a conversation with his customers.