Highgate's new butcher offers wine pairing and cooking advice
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Chef turned butcher Paul Grout celebrates the official opening of his new Swain's Lane shop next week.
Taking over from an existing butcher's shop, Meat N6 completes a trio of independent shops which bring customers up close with staff who can advise on cuts, portion size and even cooking methods.
"We are high service oriented," said Grout, who trained alongside Michel Roux Junior, and worked for the Roux brothers for 14 years.
"Customers can stand next to staff and discuss what they want. They come in carrying recipes for something they may not have heard of and we are here to help."
Grout credits his "solid" long-serving team for adding value to the customer experience: "Coming out of the pandemic, we wanted to stretch our wings. The opportunity came up to take over a going concern from a butcher who wanted to move on, so we're giving it a go. Everyone in the area has been lovely."
Like the original shop in Stoke Newington Church Street, and the sister outlet which opened in Fortess Road, Tufnell Park in 2014, all the red meat and poultry is British and free range.
"We know all our farmers like Herons Farm in Colchester, and Plantation Pigs near Steyning. We know about the husbandry, where the meat comes from."
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And because Grout's business partner is a wine trader, all three include a wine room and offer wine tastings.
"We sell good wines which sit well with the meats and help customers with what might suit pork, lamb, poultry or even fish."
The Stoke Newington shop, which opened in 2010, has a basement and garden where it offers butchery and barbecue courses.
And Grout has written a book which marries anecdotes from his life with explanations about butchery and around 50 recipes.
"I felt there was s shortage of books to tell you the difference between breeds of animals and what to buy. Why grill a sirloin but stew a chuck steak? How do you make a steak and kidney pie? It's a lovely book with great photographs."
Asked about the future of meat eating, he says: "The idea that every meal should have meat has never been great, but I don't see a day when people stop eating meat altogether. It's the old story - the right amount of everything.
"After the food scares of the 90s, the meat industry was dying, shops looked tired and dirty and being a butcher wasn't seen as a great career opportunity. People started to question what they were putting into their bodies, where their meat came from and how it was produced.
"The growth area came from people willing to pay more to get a bit better, and there's been a swing towards boutique shops where the butchers are really knowledgeable, and customers can ask questions about what they need for dinner, or just buy two sausages, or a small steak, instead of clingfilm wrapped meat in a polystyrene supermarket tray."
Meat N6 at 3, Swain's Lane holds its official opening on December 2 from 4-8pm with a book signing and nibbles.