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Grocery Stores

The Meat Dept

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on October 17, 2012

Meat Dept TorontoThe Meat Dept is the beloved Danforth butcher many once knew as The Friendly Butcher. It just has a different name now. Owner Zach Davidson broke from his then-partner about one year ago, and has since transformed The Meat Dept into something wholly his own.

The space is still a butcher shop, of course, but it's also a place to test out the chef's famous recipes. And a place to swing back a Cameron's. And a place to continually debate the chalkboard list of athletes that are and are not welcome at the shop.

Meat Dept Toronto"David Beckham's on the 'Not Welcome' list," Zach says, "if only because his voice doesn't match his body." If you couldn't already tell, The Meat Dept is as much about character as it is about ribeyes.

Meat Dept Toronto"You know when you go to the movies," Zach says, leaning beside a Maple Leaf Gardens chair he won in a drinking contest in university, "and you see a place that just looks so great? But you think nothing like that ever exists in real life? I've wanted this shop to be just like that."

Meat Dept TorontoAnd while the atmosphere is pretty great with friendly chatter emanating from all ends, the aroma from the counter of marinated meats is even better. There's Mango Jerk, Rosemary Balsamic, and Maple Teriyaki-marinated meats all in a row, along with naked cuts of prime rib ($15/lb), lamb rack chops ($24/lb), and boneless, skinless chicken breasts ($10/lb).

Meat Dept TorontoZach tells me that he and The Meat Dept team are less concerned with "certified organic" than an overall understanding of where their meat comes from. "Organic doesn't necessarily involve the treatment of the animal," he says. "Most of our stuff is local; we aim for a goal of 70 per cent."

Meat Dept TorontoThe Meat Dept's chickens are mostly from Mennonite farms, its pork is from Perth, and its steak is dry aged on site in a cooler labelled with, uh, "Coca Cola."

"We'll change that to Cameron's soon," Zach says, adding that he hopes to get all if his staff Smart Serve certified by the time the big LCBO moves in across the street. "I'd like to do some pairings in the store," he says. "And offer recommendations on what goes well with what meats."

Meat Dept TorontoUntil then, The Meat Dept will continue to offer its daily sandwiches, marinated meats, and other grocery options, and is always willing to take new suggestions for its list of "unwelcome" Meat Dept athletes.

Meat Dept TorontoPhotos by Christian Bobak

Discussion

35 Comments

Brent / October 17, 2012 at 10:05 am
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No comment on the rather ingenious door opener? Or the bell for assistance? One of the best parts of the shop! (Well, besides the food)
Regular / October 17, 2012 at 10:58 am
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I shop here every weekend & the staff, food & atmosphere are top quality. Their mango jerk pork chops are stellar, as are their merguez sausages & chicken breasts marinated in a dry rub.

Sweet bacon selection, too.

Where is it? / October 17, 2012 at 11:21 am
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I guess its too much to ask that the reviewer actually put the location in the review? "The Danforth" is a pretty vague description of where it's located - Danforth is a pretty long street. Although the photo shows the street number, how about adding a cross street or something?

Seriously, this seems to happen all the time with the reviews on this board - can't the editors ask that the location be included, or do you guys just accept the review, as is?
Really? replying to a comment from Where is it? / October 17, 2012 at 11:24 am
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Can you not see the map in the right side column near the top of the article??? The location is clearly defined and even has a link to get directions....
Really? replying to a comment from Where is it? / October 17, 2012 at 11:25 am
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But way to go with the assumptions and bashing the writer of the review. Real classy.
Peter Visima / October 17, 2012 at 11:38 am
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The staff at The Meat Department are fantastic. Their meat is second-to-none, and Zach and Cheryl provide you with amazing service and quality goods of every type. Try their Double Smoked Wild Boar Bacon—it is unbelievable!
Big Fuckin Mega Boat / October 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm
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The marbling on those striploins in the lead photo makes me drool.
I hate you replying to a comment from Where is it? / October 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm
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Oh my. I'm so angry with you right now.
Jeff / October 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm
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The whole "people we won't serve to list" seems stupid to me but glad to hear the meat/service is good.
Khristopher / October 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm
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They sound really uppity!
Dave / October 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm
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I think the point is just for laughs but a sense of humour is required. And if you have actually been to the shop you would see that's its all a part of the fun. There is a lot more than just a list of people not welcome lol. The staff there are amazing and part of the reason is they don't take themselves too seriously...and the customers love it.
Guy / October 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm
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The do not serve list is just a bit of fun. It's what gives this place character along with the amazing guys who work there. These are some of the most genuine, friendly people I've encountered. The product they sell is top notch and worth every penny, so if I want to treat myself to a really, really good steak, this is where I get it. They also sometimes stock some more exotic things, like boar bacon and beef bacon (both of which are delicious)
Ben / October 17, 2012 at 01:51 pm
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I've been going here for a few years, loved it when it was The Friendly Butcher, love it even more as The Meat Dept. You pay more than the grocery store because everything is that much better, and they always have a suggestion for me when I wander in with a vague idea of what I want.
w-hat / October 17, 2012 at 02:04 pm
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This place has great staff who are genuinely interested in making sure you enjoy your visit and the resulting meal. The shop has great character, and the products are top notch. It is not inexpensive, but not any more expensive than similar shops (Cumbraes, for example). You get what you pay for. There are some really, really good pre-marinated selections here, but they are limited so I will keep them to myself ; )
w-hat / October 17, 2012 at 02:05 pm
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Also I love that they sell lump charcoal for my Big Green Egg!
Realist (mostly) / October 17, 2012 at 02:27 pm
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To be honest, I missed the address as well. I think I just tune out anything in the sidebar. Advertisers will hate to hear that, but c'est la vie.
moo / October 17, 2012 at 02:29 pm
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Did the Meat Dept and Sanagan's get the same guy to design their facade or what
Poopdawg / October 17, 2012 at 02:43 pm
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Their sausages are so damn good.
Canterbury Tail replying to a comment from Where is it? / October 17, 2012 at 04:03 pm
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The location and such details are in the infobox on the top right of the page. They're always there for every location on BlogTO. I've not come across one that doesn't have it. It's standard.
wowzer / October 17, 2012 at 05:15 pm
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The lead photo's meat looks great but $29/lb? Jesus. Sucks that decent protein is only for the rich.
seanm replying to a comment from wowzer / October 17, 2012 at 06:14 pm
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Supply and demand. Like anything, the more mainstream it becomes the cheaper and more available it will be. Locally and humanely raised meat is definitely a positive trend that's finally starting to take hold, and as more people demand it as standard, prices will come down. Also this place seems rather "boutique" so prices are even higher, but you can find similar quality for less.
GG / October 17, 2012 at 07:06 pm
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Don't want to serve me in g and kg? Fine, I'll take my business somewhere else.
Sean / October 17, 2012 at 07:08 pm
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Thanks for the pictures. Too bad they don't have a web page.
Dave replying to a comment from GG / October 17, 2012 at 07:32 pm
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Probably best. You kind of have to have a sense of humour to shop there. Lol
John replying to a comment from GG / October 17, 2012 at 07:41 pm
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Yeah you totally have to have a sense of humour to shop there. If you are offended by that its best for everybody that you don't go in there. I think your head would probably explode. Haha. Best to leave it for the people that enjoy having a little fun in life. Lol
RC / October 17, 2012 at 07:51 pm
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So I went online and checked it out. They do have a website. www.themeatdept.com. I guess it must not have been up for long because it was a couple of pages down on the google search. Site itself is quite basic and simple but it's funny. Suits them.
kristin / October 17, 2012 at 08:00 pm
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It's true, David Beckham's voice is like Minnie Mouse passing a kidney stone, but I'd let him have a pound sausage at least
rob Kaufman / October 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm
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Still love Royal Beef, block west of Woodbine...tritips r us
Aydin / October 18, 2012 at 09:41 am
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Been going here since it opened.
These guys are what I was looking for in a butcher shop. I've gone to so many other places where the butcher just grabs what you ask for, but at the Meat Dept, they get to know you. I always approach Jose, my favorite butcher there, and he remembers me and what I like. He makes recommendations and if the boys in the back are sampling something, he'll grab me a taste.
This is the kind of place where the employees have pride in the product. If you ask for a recommendation, they'll start passionately talking about their favorite items. Most butchers I go to, when you ask them that question, they just stare blankly back at you. "Uh... everything's good. What do you want?"
I agree with the comments about the marinated cuts - very good, especially the various cuts of steak in their Cameron's Ale marinade. Their Merquez sausages are the best I've ever had. Their lesser-known cuts of beef (onglet, hanger steak, skirt steak) are all very tasty and REALLY affordable.
They also vacuum-seal anything you want, if you're having it later in the week.
And to the people who are offended by the incredibly TAME, inoffensive sense of humor, grow up.
neighbour / October 19, 2012 at 05:12 am
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Cheryl, you are my girlcrush!
Bill Coleman / October 19, 2012 at 09:52 am
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I love the gang at The Meat Dept. For those of you who are looking for the location, they are at 207 Danforth, south side close to Pape. Let me declare that I am the President and Co-Owner of Cameron's so consider my comments biased since they marianate using our award-winning beer. Oh... and sometimes they will give you a little taster while you are shopping. It's the only meat that I serve for special occasions! Thanks agian to Zach, Big Jim, Johnny, Cheryl, Jose and the rest for everything thet have done including the support of Cameron's 15th Birthday Bash.
Odette replying to a comment from Realist (mostly) / October 19, 2012 at 09:55 am
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207 Danforth Ave South side near Pape
Daddy / October 21, 2012 at 09:53 pm
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I love girl crushes! Who are you?
Carla Kenyon / April 22, 2014 at 03:53 am
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They are not uppity at all. They're actually cool people. The reason for the " no service o different athletes is a great reason. For exampl, if an mathlete beats his partner, abuse amimals, etc. they have the opportunity to be served again but only if they do community service , etc.
John Fortney / April 22, 2014 at 10:04 am
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Excellent meat, great service, really fun place to shop!Excellent marinades. They know their meat and they know the farms the meat comes from.

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