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Day's Custom Meats
Meatin' expectations: Sansho superchef Paul Day opens a butcher shop
I met Paul Day a while back -- a hazy evening, to be honest -- and knew he was a chef, but that was about it. Actually, what I remembered most clearly was that he was a butcher who became a chef. I stopped by to see his new space, which would become the acclaimed restaurant Sansho and spoke to him about the concept. In a nutshell, it was to be fine dining without the snobbery. A year on, it is by far the best restaurant in the city -- simply decorated with incredible dishes at accessible prices. Sansho has been the subject of a myriad of reviews and recommendations but, for me, what had been more intriguing was when Paul showed me the spot where he was to launch his new butcher shop. I had pleaded with Paul to sell me some meat before he opened, having approved of his idea of launching a "Real Meat Society", and, more importantly, having enjoyed the meat at Sansho, along with the rest of my extended family.
Paul's concept was simple: use local produce and help educate farmers on the raising and slaughtering of these animals. He was going to reintroduce Czech breeds of sheep and pigs that had vanished at the end of the First Republic and move to a more localized way of production. (The farms would have their own abattoir to cut down on the stress of transportation, for instance.)
Upon visiting his shop, the first thing you notice is the openness. Large windows face in on the areas where the work is done -- from cutting to making sausages -- assuring the customer of the quality and cleanliness of the shop. The display cabinets show the cuts of meat, with type, age and price all included on small tags. Key for me are the cuts themselves. I have always enjoyed the good quality of meat in the Czech Republic but have been frustrated trying to find nice roast beef, pork loin or legs of lamb. Steaks, of course, have been my number-one problem with good sirloin and T-bone cuts almost impossible to find fresh.
The Real Meat Society shop offers an array of other goodies: homemade butter, fresh eggs, and sausages ranging from the regular English-style breakfast from variety to more exotic Mexican and Hawaiian variations.
Every cut is begging to be purchased, from thick pork chops to whole roasts, fresh duck and incredible nine-week aged steaks.
In terms of price, there's no question that the Real Meat Shop is more expensive than popping down to a supermarket or to your local Czech butcher, but that shouldn't deter you. The meat is so superior in quality I'm sure that both locals and expats will descend on the shop in droves.
What Paul and his girlfriend/partner Míša have done is to reintroduce the family butcher to the Czech Republic, offering quality products, quality service and a little bit of "punk rock". (Their fridges are spray-painted by a graffiti artist.)
In a nice touch, an old meat scale used for decoration contains recipes featuring the particular cuts of meat on sale, helping educate customers in the best way to prepare them.
Hats off to this butcher-turned-chef-turned-butcher, and don't miss your chance to sample the best meat in the city.
Tel. +420 739 022 597
Tram: Jiráskovo náměstí
Open: Tue to Wed 11:00 - 17:00; Thu to Fri 11:00 - 18:00; Sat 09:00 - 12:00
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