The neighborhood butcher will always be an appealing idea. "Good old-fashioned service standards"—the promise of competence and quality—will never go out of style. At Sterling Goss in Bucktown, they went as far as to name themselves after that idea (it's where the acronym "GOSS" comes from).
Of course, every butcher shop worth its salt makes its own sausage. When I arrived at the end of the day, they had plenty of thick ribeyes, pork chops, and chickens, but only a few links in the case. Yet when I inquired about their limited selection, I was given an explanation: they'd had a busy day, "But we do have some sausage drying in back." After returning the counter, the butcher came back with links of Little Italy, hot Italian, roasted garlic and swiss, and chicken with ginger and basil, freshly made hours before and absolutely glistening.
"We have some sausages drying in the back" is the kind of thing you want to hear in a butcher shop. At home, I grilled them over indirect heat on the grill with a pass over the coals to crisp up the casing.
Sterling Goss's sausages were very well made, but mostly I liked their approach: a nice combination of classic with a slight twist, like grinding pepperoni into the Little Italy for a cured pork kick, or mixing cheese in with roasted garlic to make a fragrant, especially savory sausage. The little dash of creativity goes a long way in refreshing the usual lineup of fennel seed Italian sausage.
While at the shop I also picked up a gorgeous ribeye, cut almost comically thick, and it was one of the best steaks I've had in quite some time. By which I mean, Sterling Goss is a solid butcher shop that emphasizes service. Competence is already hard to find, but a warm smile goes pretty far, too.