Samuel Muston: Dinner at my butchers with a glass of wine? I'm all for it

 

It is 7.30pm and I am sitting at a marble-topped table in Hill & Szrok, a newly opened joint on Broadway Market in east London, with a quickly reducing plate of steak and stew in front of me. This is something of a first for me, because, to the best of my knowledge, I have never eaten dinner in a butcher's shop.

In fact, I don't think I've even been in one past sundown (in Stoke, the nearest town to where I grew up, butchers closed at 5pm sharp and 1pm on Thursdays) and certainly not with a glass of Bordeaux in hand.

But then this is not, as you might guess, your common-or-garden supplier of chops and chitterlings. This is one of a new breed of butcher shops that has begun popping up on high streets around the country: these are the hipster butchers. You will find them in Clifton in Bristol at Ruby & White; in Battersea, London, at The Butcher & Grill; in Clerkenwell, London, at Turner & George and The Quality Chop House Butchers and in many other towns around the UK.

You can spot them at 50 paces, for they tend to serve food, or are attached to restaurants. Some have done away with counters and instead use cold slabs. And absolutely every last one of them seem to subscribe to Design Week, or certainly that is what their finely crafted interiors imply. They are places you go into and don't mind whiling away an hour; places where you can buy your meat, sauce and wine all in a single swoop. These are shops for the generation reared on a diet of Gordon Ramsay.

While they may be an easy target for teasing, they are actually doing something laudable by re-energising the storm-battered high street. And while the bells and whistles employed to ensure their success may be new, what they are doing with their supply chains is actually very traditional. Many buy all their meat from one farmer and take pains to use the whole animal and demonstrate the versatility of so-called "lesser cuts" to punters.

The question is, why is butchery enjoying a second summer when decent fishmongers are rarer than blue diamonds? The answer, says Luca Mathiszig-Lees, co-owner of Hill & Szrok, is simple – and equine. "The horsemeat scandal undoubtedly damaged confidence in the supermarkets' supply chain," he says, "and butchers have benefited".

That said, they are still not able to compete with the supermarkets on cost. Lacking the buying power to drive down costs (the price of a bullock has doubled in 10 years to about £1,200) they instead concentrate on selling expertise with their sausages.

Richard Turner, the front half of Turner & George, is executive head chef of the Hawksmoor restaurant mini-chain, and Hill & Szrok has its chef in from midday, despite not opening for dinner until 7pm. Both are on hand to advise customers on how best to grill their onglet or char a T-bone.

On my way home from Hill & Szrok, I make a pit stop at one of the supermarkets to check out their offering. There is no butcher, the meat is all shrink-wrapped unto death, and its sirloin seems to be in the winter of its days. I know, I think, where I would prefer to buy my own Sunday lunch.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Guru Careers: Brand Manager / Marketing Campaign Manager

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Brand Manager / Marketing Campaign Manager is req...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future