By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Northborough – As the holiday entertaining season approaches, Lowe's Variety & Meat Shop is right there to help.
Whether it's a shrimp or cheese platter for a party, a fresh native turkey for Thanksgiving, marinated kebobs for a football tailgate, or prime rib for Christmas dinner, Lowe's can meet your needs.
“You don's have to handle the holidays all by yourself,” said Tom Lowe, who has owned the Northborough store since 1986.
Lowe's is truly a family business. Tom Lowe's grandparents started the original market in Westborough in 1951. Their sons went on to open stores in Northborough, Hudson, Marlborough and Sanford, Maine. Tom bought the Northborough store from his Uncle Bill and moved it to the shopping center on West Main Street in 2006.
Lowe's has built its reputation on friendly, personal service and, in particular, its custom meat and seafood business. Butchers man the service meat counter every day to provide any cut needed and explain how to cook it. The store gets fresh seafood deliveries from Captain Marden's Seafood in Wellesley six days a week.
“If you need a special seafood item, call us before 9 a.m., and it will be ready to pick up at 3:30 after the truck comes in,” Lowe promised.
If you'se entertaining, the market offers appetizer platters in three sizes, to feed 12, 20 or 30 people. The choices include cheese and crackers, shrimp, fresh vegetables or fruit with dip, and Swedish or Italian meatballs. Other options are sandwich platters or meat and cheese platters for make-your-own sandwiches. Eight different salads are sold by the pound.
Dessert trays and sheet cakes are also available, and Lowe's can also order pastry trays or specialty cakes from Culpepper's Bakery in Worcester for pickup at the store.
Supplying the main course for your holiday dinners is where Lowe's really shines.
For Thanksgiving, Lowe's offers fresh native turkeys from Bob's Turkey Farm in Lancaster.
“We start taking orders in October,” Lowe said, “and when we sell out, that's it.” The store typically orders 600 to 700 turkeys in advance from Bob's. And the seafood counter has oysters for the stuffing.
The store also bakes its own pies??”seven or eight varieties??”for the holidays.
At Christmas, “our specialty is prime rib roasts, either bone-in or boneless, USDA choice,” he said. He recommends one rib for every two people for the bone-in roasts or a half-pound per person for the boneless. Lowe's starts taking Christmas orders for the roasts and for Bob's turkeys the day after Thanksgiving.
For something a bit more unusual for your Christmas table, Lowe's offers geese, ducks and pheasants, all with cooking instructions, or lamb or fresh veal roasts. The store carries Triple-M Budaball hams, a regional favorite, and filet mignon steaks.
Thinking about a traditional Italian seven fishes feast for Christmas Eve? Check Lowe's seafood options, which include haddock, salmon, swordfish and cod, along with mussels, shrimp and calamari.
For the holiday season, Lowe's also prepares Swedish sill every year. “My resident Swede, Walter Johnson, taught me how to cut, season and pickle herring in his family's tradition,” Lowe said. The sill is available for about three weeks in December, along with Leroux's Swedish meat sausage and Swedish potato sausage.
“We probably do a hundred different things for Christmas. Whatever your tradition is, we can help you,” Lowe said.
Whenever you plan a special dinner, Lowe's meat counter features entrees to take home and cook, including stuffed beef roasts??”a Florentine version with spinach and provolone and an Italian version with prosciutto, hot ham and sharp provolone. Stuffed pork roasts come with the Florentine stuffing or a bread and apple version.
Every day there are specials ready to cook. The rotating selection includes turkey or beef meatloaf, stuffed chicken breasts and stuffed pork chops. Or pick up fresh homemade sausages. Marinated beef, chicken and lamb, prepared in the store, are available in Cryovac packaging and are perfect for the grill.
Lowe's also has a large selection of prepared foods, including rotisserie chickens, already cooked and ready to heat up. Among the popular choices are homemade turkey or beef chili and marinara sauce.
The store offers a complete prepared dinner, with an entrée and two sides, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The meals, most priced at $9.99, are large enough for two people. Now the menu for those meals is posted on Lowe's website, www.lowesmeatmarket.com, so customers can see when their favorite entree is available.
Lowe's Variety & Meat Shop is located at 255 West Main St., Northborough, and is open Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The meat counter is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. To place an order, call 508-393-6594.