Central Arkansas is blessed with some really good sausage makers. Whether it's the house made sausages from Hillcrest Artisan Meats, Edwards Food Giant, or straight from the farm, there's no shortage of really fantastic sausage in the area. To this list of greats, add Travis McConnell, a man with no small amount of experience making charcuterie, and who has been slowly rolling out his Butcher and Public restaurant concept at various events around town.
I wasn't able to attend the big hog roast that McConnell threw last February, but I was lucky enough to catch him grilling some of his homemade sausages at the Bernice Garden Farmers Market. I ordered up a hot one and was treated to a large juicy sausage nestled just right on a split and grilled baguette. Toppings were of a "do it yourself" nature, so I slathered on a generous amount of mustard and a couple of spoonfuls of a tasty looking chimichurri — there was also a bread-and-butter pickle mix, but I'm not a fan of sweet pickles. The result was one of the best things I've eaten in awhile: tender, savory grilled sausage on chewy bread, kicked up with mustard and finished with a chimichurri that was just the right balance of garlic, fresh herbs, and good oil. I was eating off a paper holder on a park bench, but I might as well have been eating somewhere fine.
I'd wondered when Chef McConnell first announced his plans to open Butcher and Public in the Main Street area if there was enough room in this town for another fine-meat purveyor. After sampling the chef's work, I know that I'll have no problem making room for such good food in my life. The Butcher and Public gang plan to do more market appearances, so I urge you all to grab one of these fresh-grilled masterpieces as soon as possible — I can't wait to eat my next one.