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
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Recruitment Genius: Processing Partner

    £15000 - £19200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Processing Partner is require...

    Recruitment Genius: PPC Manager - SW London

    £34000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist travel agent ba...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower