The Block Restaurant & Butcher Shop is the latest project from Marc Del Pietro, chef/owner of Luciano’s Trattoria in Clayton. Located in downtown Webster Groves, the building is fairly unassuming, both inside and out. The food; however, is anything but.

Since meat is the thing at The Block, we started off with the Family-Style Platter ($14), which featured all sorts of house-cured meats and sausage, along with some tasty pickled vegetables, like onions and cucumbers. It was all superb, but we especially liked the potted pig, a crock of pork confit that absolutely melted in our mouths. The grape chutney served alongside made for a really nice savory/sweet contrast.

We then tried the full selection of spreads available: White Bean & Garlic ($7); House- Made Bacon Jam ($7); and Whipped Herb Feta ($7). We couldn’t decide on a favorite, since each presented such a unique flavor. The white bean spread was similar to a hummus, consistency-wise. When the dish has ‘garlic’ in the name, you know it’s going to be potent, and this spread didn’t disappoint! We loved it, but those looking for a mild, delicate spread should look elsewhere. For the uninitiated, bacon jam is just that, a sweet and salty pork-based spread that is a most flavorful add to any toast. The Block’s version was a bit sweeter than some we’ve sampled elsewhere, but tasty nonetheless. The herbaceous feta proved to be a really good complement to some of the pickled veggies from the meat platter, especially the onions.

The Block Burger ($10) was just what a burger should be: meat, cheese and bun. It was a full 8 ounces of Missouri grass-fed beef, accented with aged smoked cheddar. You could put ketchup and mustard on it, but why? Ours was expertly cooked and came with a few pickled veggies on the side and some really nicely spiced fries. It was as fine a burger as we’ve had in a long while.

The Mac & Cheese ($10) wasn’t technically ‘Mac’ since it used shell pasta instead of macaroni, but only the most diehard food fanatic would ding it for that. We got the full-sized portion (there’s a smaller one available for $5) and upgraded it with bacon bits for an additional $1. We found the shells to be the perfect pasta for this dish, actually, as they acted like little bowls to hold the rich, creamy sauce, ensuring cheesy goodness with every bite. In fact, The Block’s take on this venerable comfort food classic gets our nod as one of the best around.

In recent years, bacon has made its way into all manner of dishes, and The Block’s Potted Pudding ($7) is proof that it is indeed the universal ingredient. This milk chocolate pudding had a salty caramel sauce and bits of bacon, topped with whipped cream, for a really well-balanced dessert.

As the name implies, The Block also is a butcher shop, so you can pick up the same cuts used on the menu and take them home yourself. And while the meat might be the draw, there’s also a surprisingly lengthy wine list and some interesting cocktail concoctions available at the bar.

Our hope is that the restaurant will someday start up lunch service. We’d love to be able to get some of that mac & cheese at midday!

The Block Restaurant & Butcher Shop • 146 Lockwood Ave. • 918-7900

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