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Why bother with special online butchers?

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    Why bother with special online butchers?

    So the thread about whether or not Costco is worth it brought up something I've been thinking about for a while. We hear, and talk about, places like Creekstone, Porter Road, Allen Bros. etc. Most of their brisket and other sub primal cuts are at or over $10/lb for brisket and close to $20/lb for strip loin etc. These are prime graded cuts.

    Costco will sell me a prime brisket for $3.70/lb right now.

    So the obvious question is... why buy from the online producers? I can think of a few reasons - hand selected cuts with better intramuscular marbling, how the cattle are raised, the breeds, etc.

    For those of you who do a fair amount of ordering from both, what makes the high end online places worth 3-5x the price?

    I'm excluding dry aged meats, wagyu, etc. Just thinking about prime grades here.

    PS: IFindZeroBadCooks notes that some of you might not have easy access to a Costco. To be clear, I'm talking about people who could easily get to a Costco or a similar place where you can get prime or at the least, high choice beef for something like the price above.

    PPS: HouseHomey raises a good point on page 2. Brisket is only one lens through which to view these sources. I initially posted this because it was Brisket that is on my mind. I have excellent local sources for choice and choice CAB steaks etc as well as pastured chickens and the like. But high end online sources certainly provide that for people without good local butchers.
    Last edited by rickgregory; December 30, 2020, 01:39 AM.

    #2
    I think the answer for a sizable group based on reading the threads here is lack of access to a good local butcher or Costco. Think of a more rural area or a smaller city, where the local store wouldn’t carry brisket or the quality of meats required (e.g prime).

    Comment


    • rickgregory
      rickgregory commented
      Editing a comment
      Fair. I need to amend the post above...

    • Panhead John
      Panhead John commented
      Editing a comment
      Great question rickgregory I’ve wondered that same thing myself. I’ve never ordered online nor have I ever had Wagyu. I’ve been very happy with Costco’s steaks and other meat. I can’t imagine it being THAT much better, but I could be wrong. Costco’s prime and choice cuts have always been excellent IMO. I’ve had several folks tell me my steaks were better than what they’ve had in a steakhouse...which ones they ate at I don’t know. But I’m also eager to hear from others who have had both.
      Last edited by Panhead John; December 28, 2020, 05:31 PM.

    #3
    I am curious about this as well. I've only made a couple purchases online and can't justify the price I paid versus Costco options. I even have a couple of grocery stores that sell SRF wagyu ribeyes and NY strips. Blindfolded I probably couldn't tell the difference between them and Costco prime.

    Comment


      #4
      I do both local and online. I'll do online for whole strip loins and rib roasts, they work out cheaper than local. And online I can get "butchers cuts" like hangar steak, blade, flank, etc. I buy local when I see something nice at the right price, or when I want dinner without thawing it first.

      Comment


        #5
        It's got to be accessibility. I'm fortunate to have many butchers to choose from here as well as multiple costcos. I can't see myself buying online. I've also had door-to-door butcher trucks knock on my door. I told them no thanks.

        Comment


        • phrogpilot73
          phrogpilot73 commented
          Editing a comment
          We tried a door-to-door butcher truck once. It was the same quality/value as Omaha Steaks. It was worth the price to know the answer, but the local butcher/Costco is better in my opinion.

        • Mosca
          Mosca commented
          Editing a comment
          phrogpilot73 Your experience matches mine, but I haven’t seen a meat truck in close to 30 years. I remember getting decent, but not spectacular, product. It wasn’t as convenient as it appeared it would be, and I didn’t order again.

        • Murdy
          Murdy commented
          Editing a comment
          I had a neighbor who drove one of those door-to-door trucks. Once in a while, at the end of a day, she'd have something extra and let me buy it at cost. It was fine, but nothing special.

        #6
        I buy 90% of my meat at Costco. Only 1.5 miles away. I buy online for a once in a while treat for things my Costco doesn’t have such as Wagyu beef and such. In fact I will be posting on SUWYC some dry aged Berkshire pork chops from Allen Brothers I had tonight. Very yummy BTW. Otherwise I don’t see any need to buy online.

        Comment


          #7
          I haven't purchased meat in a store in eons. I have the good fortune of raising it myself.

          Comment


          • jerrybell
            jerrybell commented
            Editing a comment
            Similar for us. We don't raise it ourselves but buy halves and whole beef and hogs from a local farmer. I still buy some meat in stores. Our farm-purchased meat lasts about a year and one brisket or two racks of ribs aren't enough to satisfy the craving for those.

          • Mr. Bones
            Mr. Bones commented
            Editing a comment
            I do likewise, fer th simpel reason is: Th neighbours, much as we all strive to git along, rather tend to disdain, an even actively disciurage me from raisin any kinda large livestocks in me yard...'

            (Yardbirds, they's mostly okay with, on accounta they's never round so long, that they git all to knowin their names, etc., usw.,) ...
            Last edited by Mr. Bones; December 28, 2020, 11:53 PM.

          #8
          So I'm wondering about the folks who DO buy from the specialty online guys even if they do have Costco or similar available. Because I can't see a reason to outside of special events like Christmas dinner.

          The Creekstone brisket for a 14-16lb one is $164. Call it 15lbs - that's $11/lb. For $3.70 a pound, a prime brisket from Costco will be $55.

          I mean at $3.70/lb, I'm considering making pastrami from the flat and grinding the point for ground beef, maybe with some short ribs in there.

          Comment


          • Smoldering Flea
            Smoldering Flea commented
            Editing a comment
            I do most of my beef purchasing online based on taste. Not sure if it’s the dry aging or that they do better choosing their suppliers within the “prime” designation but for me it’s worth the price premium (though I am trying to minimize my beef consumption to once-a-month so easier to justify the splurge).

          • rickgregory
            rickgregory commented
            Editing a comment
            So, I think we need to exclude the dry aged stuff - that will obviously be different and should be better even if the starting beef is the same. At the same time, it's a valid point that you CAN buy dry aged products online and you aren't getting that from Costco.
            Last edited by rickgregory; December 28, 2020, 10:42 PM.

          • Smoldering Flea
            Smoldering Flea commented
            Editing a comment
            to be fair i have not tried a dry aged steak from a local butcher or even a whole foods for comparison.

          #9
          3.70/lbs fill your freezer.

          Comment


            #10
            Maybe I’m spoiled by my local grocery store carrying Double R Ranch beef and some SRF. I don’t think Costco prime beef is really that great, at least at my location. I ordered from Creekstone once and it didn’t really seem any better than Costco. I’ve ordered some stuff from SRF and some Double R Ranch prime brisket as an occasional treat and been very impressed each time.

            Comment


            • Mosca
              Mosca commented
              Editing a comment
              So far everything I’ve had from Creekstone has been fantastic. Same with SRF and RR.

            • rickgregory
              rickgregory commented
              Editing a comment
              Mosca - How so? And is it significantly better than Costco prime?

              Here's what I'm trying to reconcile - the Creekstone prime (and SRF etc) 3x or more the price of Costco. If you make enough that $100 is trivial, that's one thing. But a 3x difference is a LOT. If the online stuff is better by a large margin, then you can justify it, esp on a splurge. But if it's only slightly better, it's not worth it to me and I'd actually wonder if it's confirmation bias to a degree.

            • Mosca
              Mosca commented
              Editing a comment
              rickgregory I’m not comparing it to Costco, my nearest Costco is about 100 miles away. I’m not even saying it represents good value! I’m just saying it’s all been great. I try to pick and choose, with Creekstone I’ve stuck to the specials, with SRF I try to wait for BOGO or big discounts.IMO the RR rib roasts are better value than the SRF. The quality of those has been outstanding. The whole primals from Creekstone are pretty cheap on sale.

            #11
            rickgregory I’ve ordered some SRF wagyu briskets, Double R prime briskets (which have been well trimmed with an 1/8” fat cap), SRF picanha. I’ve usually ordered when on sale. Still pricey but not too bad for the occasional splurge. I’ve gotten various SRF cuts at Haggen...NY strip, ribeye, bavette. I just picked up a couple Double R Ranch choice rib roasts at Haggen when they had a sale right before Christmas for $7.99/#.

            It’s definitely not $3.70/# but Haggen has reasonable sales every once in a while. Even so, the typical cost for ribeye or strip when not on sale is $15/#. That’s not any more than what people are paying for prime at Costco and the flavor is just so much better. The difference is hard to describe, it’s just much better quality in my opinion and tastes much better.

            Comment


              #12
              I think we should clarify, what most of us are used to is meat shops, as 99% of all retail outlets get broken down cuts that require minimal trimming; most are not actually butchering/breaking down halves of cows or pigs (if you live near one though, please support them!!!) due to the cost of transporting half of an animal. Thus, looking at the supplier of our favorite meat shop due to the overwhelming industrialization of the meat industry is an equally important factor.

              When I lived in the Portland (Or) Metro area, I had great access to meat shops who could get cuts I couldn't get from work (mainly beef ribs of some sort).

              I'd go to them for the beef ribs and pork ribs (pork was from the same distributor - Swift - at work or not. But everything else I'd buy from work/Costco due to convenience and price; $3.99 /lb prime brisket was the same or less as the choice from local meat shops that had inferior marbling.

              Now I live in the Austin, TX area and we carry beef ribs at work (woohoo!! 😎) so I'll have little to no need to seek a local meat shop out; I'm a simple fella.

              I understand a lot of folks don't like the busy atmosphere of Costco, but the meat shop inside the warehouse is really no different then any other meat shop imo. Go knock on the window and get a meat cutter to cut to your specs; it's possible, it just takes a big more effort.... or conversely, but a box of brisket (or what have you) and save even more money.

              Comment


              • Red Man
                Red Man commented
                Editing a comment
                My dispatcher’s son works in the meat department at Costco. She tells me the meat cutters are not supposed to accommodate customers requests. The low pricing at Costco relies on a streamlined process that has no room for special requests. Maybe that’s just how my local Costco is run.

              • Loren
                Loren commented
                Editing a comment
                It might be...it doesn't seem like that is really taking care of our members though 🤷🏼

              #13
              I have a $9/lb gold SRF brisket in the fridge to hopefully cook Wed night and I’ll let you know. I will say the Creekstone Prime Rib I cooked at Thanksgiving and Christmas was better than anything I got at Costco or locally, but not sure I”d get again unless on sale. Prime for Prime, I’m going to go Costco once the vaccine is available to the masses, just because even though online specialty might be better, I’m not sure 2-5 times better like the price.

              Comment


              • glitchy
                glitchy commented
                Editing a comment
                rickgregory It was probably the best brisket I’ve ever made, just did it last night and ate around 2:00 today. That being said, as long as I can get Prime packers at Costco for $3-4/lb, I probably won’t buy more Wagyu brisket. It wasn’t 2-3 times better than Prime.

                I might still order occasional steaks for a treat, but see heading back to all Costco Prime for the most part when my current stock is diminished.

              • glitchy
                glitchy commented
                Editing a comment
                rickgregory As I paged, I noticed your request for more detail. It was slightly more flavorful, but definitely definitely juicier than anything else I’ve cooked. The selected piece of point I pulled out to eat while slicing up the leftovers was easily the single best tasting piece of brisket I’ve ever had.

                This was also a comp teams culled leftovers. I got it for probably 30% less than ordering from SRF, but probably stood a decent chance of getting a thicker and more uniform flat direct.

              • glitchy
                glitchy commented
                Editing a comment
                Though while eating it, I was thinking how great it was but how much I’m just as happy or maybe happier with chuck roasts or plate ribs and those are far less work and much harder to mess up. Maybe I just like the flavor of the chuck muscle better too.

              #14
              I always purchase local when available and I currently have a side in my freezer. When I have ordered from Creekstone or Porter Road it was because of the cuts. Although, I will say that I bought some steaks from Creekstone once on sale (still very expensive) and they were amazing. My main reason for purchasing online is for tri-tips. One of my favorite cuts of beef and I just cannot get them around here.

              Comment


                #15
                Costco is a better deal especially for brisket and some whole cuts. As long as I can get it at Costco I get it there. Online for cuts that just don’t exist around here (beef plate ribs etc).

                Local places have commodity cuts that are either too small or poor quality. They stock only the products they can sell the most of quickly (ground beef and 1/2” steaks). In fact I’ll usually buy brisket at Costco and it ends up being cheaper to grind that instead of buying ground beef.

                Comment

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