When I stopped in to see Russ Flint’s new Rain Shadow Meats outpost this week, a man named Sven was busy painting a massive version of the shop’s logo on the bricks of the southern wall. His handiwork is less than 24 hours old, but looks suitably aged—except for the “Est. 2010” in the lower corner.
“I love that stuff,” says Flint, gesturing out his front window to the painted signage for Optimus soda fountains that has spent the last century gradually fading atop the F.X. McRory’s building down the street. The butcher (and Boat Street Cafe alum) so integral to the success of Melrose Market is now planting his flag (more specifically his vintage meat rail system) in the midst of a revitalizing Pioneer Square.
Flint’s new shop, Rain Shadow Meats Squared, might open its doors—quietly—late next week. His original plan was to go in on some sort of space with Matt Dillon and Marigold and Mint’s Katherine Anderson, to recreate a Melrose Market of sorts down here in Pioneer Square. But he wasn’t feeling the available spaces, until Dillon urged him to go check out 404 Occidental Avenue, just three doors (and a cross street) down from Bar Sajor and the future site of London Plane.
The butcher block counter, the cases, and even the metal beams framing the front counter space should look very familiar if you’ve visited Rain Shadow Meats up at Melrose Market. The big difference: Food. And booze. Rain Shadow Squared has about 20 seats and a stand-up counter rail where you can have a beer, some wine, and an actual lunch, which you order at a separate counter toward the back of the room.
I was expecting a menu of maybe eight meaty sandwiches, but Flint totally confounded me with a lovely menu of room-temp platters (think pickled beets, pickled herring and sliced pork with horseradish cream, chopped egg, and rye) breakfasty plates like a Spanish tortilla with chorizo, and salads like radicchio with pate en croute and a soft-boiled egg, or a marinated lacinato kale. Don’t worry, there is plenty of meat, too. People, this is one hell of an exciting lunch option.
One of the four taps will eventually pour a celery soda made by Flint’s girlfriend, Anna Wallace (aka bar manager at The Walrus and the Carpenter and the subject of this killer photo in March’s Bon Appetit). Erik Abdelbari—a Rain Shadow alum most recently at Skillet—is handling most of the food, and another longtime Rain Shadowite, Chris Simpson, will be running production at the new shop, which will be open every day from 10 to 7. Food will be available any time.
Flint says he's hoping to just open his doors quietly one day, with minimal fanfare, so keep an eye on his Facebook page for more info.