Chef Kris Doll has spent most of his New Orleans culinary career toiling away in obscurity in the depths of the back of the house. The sultan of salami spent the better part of eight months in the back of Donald Link’s Herbsaint, amassing more than half a ton of charcuterie for the opening of Cochon Butcher. Doll then joined Adolfo Garcia’s team, where his high-end Italian training was a perfect match at a Mano, although his role soon expanded across all of Garcia’s local restaurants, before he left to be the first butcher at Cleaver & Co.
With the opening of Shank Charcuterie across from St. Roch Market, Doll has stepped up from behind the curtain and maintained his role as butcher while also assuming the responsibilities of chef, waiter, retail clerk, cashier and dishwasher. In between pouring wine by the glass and plating meatballs crowned with crushed tomato and parmesan, Doll is often washing silverware or selecting a skirt steak for a customer and dispersing cooking instructions while simultaneously stirring a pot of spicy collard greens enriched with bacon trimmings. The juggling act is a wonder to watch and fruitful for those with patience, especially when dining in.
A 20-foot food counter creates an intimate setting similar to dining at a sushi bar, where the line between customer and chef is effectively nonexistent. The short menu is remarkably diverse, ranging from grilled chicken with Thai chile to ropa vieja over coconut rice. Pulled pork sliders are dressed with white barbecue sauce, and the burger is often hand-formed to order: a thick patty of coarse-ground beef sandwiched between Texas toast smeared with Dijonnaise. The wait for lunch passes much more pleasantly while nibbling on a charcuterie plate, which may feature chicken liver pate drizzled with cane syrup, a sizzling link of lamb merguez flaked with red pepper, a wedge of asiago studded with black peppercorns, and vibrant Castelvetrano olives.
The retail case in the front of the shop overflows with a cornucopia of locally sourced meats, from boudin-stuffed chickens and whole rabbits to duck confit and pickled pigs feet. Typical cuts of beef such as ribeyes and strips are usually well stocked. Shank is a one-stop shop for the ultimate sausage party, offering classic boudin, spicy creole chaurice and even porcini-stuffed links. Luscious hogshead cheese and mild pimento cheese, both made in-house, of course, are the perfect prelude to any holiday meal.
While Doll’s omnipresence gives the illusion that Shank is a one-man band, everyone knows that behind every great man is a great woman. In this case, that would be Doll’s girlfriend and business partner Carolyn Kolbe, who (in the words of Doll) “handles the smart stuff.” Together the duo have created a butcher shop and café where seeing the sausage being made is part of the charm.
2352 St. Claude Ave.; Tue–Thur 10a–7p, Fri-Sat 10a–8p, Sun 10a–5p; (504) 218-5281, shankcharcuterie.com