Sandwiches star at the marvelous, meat-centric Saddleberk
A small menu is elevated by local ingredients at this welcome new North Market Bridge Park food stall, which features a strong pedigree
I recently dug into a salad presented in a cardboard container by a meat-centric food stall with a small menu and an attention-grabbing butcher case. Yes, I might have been tempting fate, but that salad was better than many I’ve had in full-service restaurants.
This tells you a thing or two about Saddleberk, the operation that prepared the salad. But it only scratches the surface of the artisanal butcher shop, grocer and short-order eatery that occupies a conspicuously large and prominent space inside Dublin's North Market Bridge Park.
Here’s more information. Saddleberk’s owners are John Sommers — whose family farm in Urbana provides the name for the company — and the founders of Watershed Distillery and Watershed Kitchen & Bar, Greg Lehman and Dave Rigo.
This makes for a great town-and-country partnership in which the farming arm of Saddleberk — the Urbana estate specializes in heritage-breed Berkshire pigs — lays the farm-to-table foundation for a sleek, suburban-based business with a strong emphasis on high-quality local ingredients.
From house-made charcuterie and spice blends to Ohio-sourced veggies, pasture-raised eggs and high-grade cheeses, plus other dairy products, some of these ingredients are sold as groceries at the North Market Saddleberk. Others help elevate the crowd-pleasing, great-tasting, nicely priced and quickly prepared dishes scratch-cooked in the Saddleberk kitchen by Jack Dale Bennett, a former sous chef at Watershed Kitchen & Bar.
Getting right to the meat of the matter, Saddleberk’s terrific schnitzel might be the best deal for a pork cutlet in town ($9). One of about a dozen regularly offered items — most are tricked-out sandwiches — the hefty slab of tender and juicy Berkshire pork was encased in crispy, golden-browned panko breadcrumbs and sliced in easy-to-eat strips. Served atop arugula and with a sweet-and-spicy grainy mustard dipping sauce, it’s Ohio's answer to tonkatsu, a Japanese classic.
Add to it that aforementioned green salad ($6) — pristine greens, perky house vinaigrette, delightful house-made croutons (delicate-yet-crisp, garlic-and-herb-kissed), slivers of shaved celery, carrot and razor-thin radish — and you have a fine meal.
If you instead add the more substantial antipasto salad ($9), which is loaded with silky-and-smoky ham, good olives (green and black), sun-dried tomatoes, plus porky (but not crisp when I had them) bacon bits, you’ll have dinner for two.
For handheld pigging-out, try the pork dip sandwich ($13), which features excellent pulled meat loaded into a toasted roll (Saddleberk locally sources Auddino’s Italian Bakery products) alluringly blanketed in broiled provolone and served with a zippy, nearly upstaging roasted-red-pepper-enriched broth.
I liked the roast beast sandwich ($13) even better: outstanding house-made roast beef, pickled peppers, spicy giardiniera-like veggies, a cheese sauce of which I wanted more, plus sun-dried tomatoes.
All sandwiches — including the first-rate Saddleberk butcher burger ($13) assembled with an impressive house-ground patty, caramelized onions, melted American cheese, tart-sweet house pickles, tangy-rich “sassy” sauce and a toasted bun — come with chips that can be, and should be, upgraded to crunchy, golden-brown waffle fries for $3.
Chicken wing fans will be rewarded with six crispy whole wings (meaning 12 pieces) for $9, which is a relative steal nowadays. Bonus: They arrive with rich, dill-enhanced house ranch and slathered in the killer “black cap” hot sauce made from fermented sambal and developed by Watershed Kitchen & Bar chef Jack Moore.
A sandwich special (about $13) and soup du jour (usually $4) are generally available, and — based on the beef-stew-like beef paprikash I loved and the porchetta-showcasing Cuban sandwich I missed out on — I recommend ordering anything tempting lest engendering later regrets.
Such regrets dissolve into oohs and aahs while sipping a soothing Saddleberk milkshake ($6) like the seasonal special s’more. Following great counter-server advice, I made “the power move” by having it blended with high-grade chocolate milk.
Saddleberk Butcher - Restaurant - Grocery
6750 Longshore Dr., North Market Bridge Park