Roast Butcher Shop
Roast Butcher Shop and Fine Foods on St. Clair at Arlington is perfect if you like a little swank when you buy your flank. The floor, marble counter and subway title all gleam, the dropped red pendants add flashes of colour as their light reflects off the pressed tin ceilings.
On the right wall are shelves of special products (Stonewall Kitchen, Late July crackers, Cut Coffee, Caplansky Mustards, Manning Canning and Vancouver Island Sea Salt to name but a few), their labels neatly facing out.
I was especially jazzed to see they carried Empire Mayonnaise Co. products out of Brooklyn ($8.00 for 9 oz.), including the sinful White Truffle - a perfect accompaniment to a juicy burger or steak. Past the shelves you'll find shiny new fridges full of house-made stocks (veal stock is $6.00 for a half litre), butter and take-home meats.
They've got a number of prepared foods ready for a quick dinner, like Slow-Braised Short Ribs or Chicken Chartreuse, both $15.00, or try their meatballs, rabbit ratatouille or chicken pot pie. At the end of the room you can watch as butchers break down larger cuts (sourced from such renown local producers as Belanger Organic Farms and Perth Pork Products) and prep food for display and purchase.
The centre point is of course, the glass display case where all the fresh meat is held. Usually there you'll find owner and head butcher Ben Latchford, or one of the other staff, smiling and ready for questions. The fresh cuts of meat are dressed with herb sprigs just waiting for you to make your selection.
I purchased two lamb shanks, great for a slow braising, at 10$ a pound. Look, I get it. This kind of meat jacks up the grocery bill. Roast's pricing seems somewhere between Sanagan's and Cumbrae's, making it not the cheapest of the high quality stuff, but not the most expensive either.
But as someone who has raised and slaughtered her own chickens, I understand just how much time, and effort goes into a well-raised, and killed, animal. Larger beasts are an even more sensitive affair.
That's why it is important to choose better, and eat less overall. I'm happy to see places like Roast Butcher Shop offering a little transparency to the butchery process with the glass window prep station. But with the dazzling array of speciality products, tight branding and clean décor, you're apt to forget the gritty business of animal husbandry and just think "dinner."
Photos by Jesse Milns