Best chef downshift, animal division

Rob Levitt, the Butcher & Larder

1026 N. Milwaukee
773-687-8280

thebutcherandlarder.com

When Rob and Allie Levitt walked away from Mado to open an artisanal butcher shop and have regular lives as a family, it was hard to see how cold raw meat in a case could compensate for the loss of all the beautiful things at Mado. Which just goes to show how little we understood Rob's vision, and how quickly he'd turn his butcher shop into one of this city's most essential spots for food appreciation, education, and evangelism. It's not just that Rob can make you see a cut of meat you've been eating your whole life with new eyes, the way Terence Malick does with trees. That alone is a public service, if you believe in sustainability and whole-animal eating and all that stuff. But the entire shop is burbling with an unashamed meat lovers' ferment, turning out everything from sausages to sloppy joes to deeply meaty soups, while entire sides of beef and pork are plopped down next to the diner at the counter and chefs and farmers pass each other in the doorway and the staff cuts away with long knives and spinning slicers. Some customers are surely turned away by all this public carnage; many more have been turned on to a whole new way of thinking about meat. —Michael Gebert