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lamb shanks

Everything I know about meat could probably fit on a sirloin tip, but that still didn’t stop me from dropping my jaw when I went into Victor Churchill. When I was asking friends about places to visit in Sydney, Anissa Helou said to me – “You must go to that butcher!” I didn’t know who “that butcher” was, but a simple online search led me right to Victor Churchill.

Victor Churchill Sydney

The comparison to a jewelry shop is inevitable, since the meat is not just on display, but showcased. And when you have meat that looks like this, each certainly merits its position in the spotlight. It would be indiscreet to reveal what they spent on this shop, which was built in 2009, but it was a lot. And it shows.

standing rib roastrolled lamb loin
sirloin steaksscotch filet

Australians seems to be very keen on lamb and beef (one of the employees told me that “meat is to Australians like rice is to Asians”) and although the prices here aren’t for the faint-hearted (the same parent company owns a wholesale meat company that supplies a lot of restaurants in Sydney), if you’re someone like me that doesn’t eat a lot of meat – or has a large family and needs to buy eight steaks to feed everyone – then I’d imagine it’s a nice treat for yourself and someone special to pick up a t-bone steak or sirloin for the grill. Even if you’re not hungry for meat when you’re passing by, if you stop in, you’ll immediately be hit by the smell of roasting meat, courtesy of a ventilator over the rotisserie in the back, which is slyly vented to the front to give you a whiff of things to come.

rump steaksveal cutlets
t-bonepork ribs

Walls are covered with timber and cowhide, and the beef is aged in special temperature-controlled rooms for between twenty-one and twenty-eight days (although one was aged quite a bit longer) which not only reduces moisture and concentrates flavor, but also tenderizes the beef so it’s not tough. And all meat is from Australia; nothing is cryovaced or shipped in from overseas.

game terrineVictor Churchill

They told me that Victor Churchill was influenced by a Paris butcher shop, which was evident by the impeccable, yet meaty pâtés in the display cases. But I’ve not seen a beef aging room with a wall made from interlocking bricks of Himalayan salt, which help dry out and purify the air, and needs to be replaced every two years.

salt wall

I also enjoyed watching the master butchers at work. It’s a craft I know very little about, and next time I come back to Sydney, I’m going to sign up for one of their classes to learn a little more. I can’t imagine a nicer place to learn.

Victor Churchill
132 Queen Street
Woollahra (Sydney), Australia
Tel: 02 9328 0408

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    • Tyler Ngo

    OMG, this place is a paradise! (for meat lover) I drool just from looking at the perfectly marbled slab of beef!

    • Sam @ The Second Lunch

    Even the handwriting on those little placards is seductive. Yum.

    • Emma

    Even the meat cutter/slicer/shaver/thinger is a work of art in red. Beautiful.

    I’m a bit meat adverse in life, but I know I could appreciate a butcher shop that draws comparisons to fine jewelry!

    • Holiday Baker Man

    Only a couple of places left like this here in Vancouver. Looks amazing!

    • Ann P.

    how come we can’t have this kind of awesomeness where I’m from? they make butchering an art.

    • Bethh

    Good grief! I want to buy a $$$ hunk of meat now, except I don’t really know how to do it justice!

    • Natashia@foodonpaper

    Such an impressive butcher! It would be a pleasure in itself just to visit the place, even for window shopping…

    • Fran

    I’m not sure there are words that can articulate how excited this makes me for meat. Now STOP that! I mean the FOOD they are playing with. The thought of walls of salt makes it even more intriguing. I’m putting this on my bucket list. I hope Victor Churchill is still there when I get the chance to travel to Australia.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    • Jennie B.

    O-M-G…I think I just died and went to meat heaven – I would be scared to cook any of that meat in case I f$cked it up somehow. You take glorious photos. Thank you.

    • Ed

    I always call it Prada for meat. Did you notice they pipe out the smell of roast chicken outside the front door?

    • annie

    WOW. Just wow. I read this with my jaw open. I need to start saving for a ticket to Sydney.

    • Joy

    This takes luxury to a whole new level. I love my meats!

    • Simon Food Favourites

    they definitely know their meat there and such a nice place to visit.

    • Ben

    Hey David, Wonderful Oz posts, really special. thanks. On a different sydney note – it is worth asking around about a fantastic breakfast place called “Love in a Cup.” In Bondi Beach. Don’t know if they still exist. I was there 10 years ago and had their signature “Love Eggs” which i think you would have devoured and adored. Recently tried to scour internet for the recipe, but cannot find recent mention of the place. WOuld be sadif they closed, they were an institution.

    • Sara!t.

    • Robert

    Truly a paradise for meat lovers – wonderful cuts of meat and really great photos. The first shot of the lamb shanks and the wagyu bresaola are my favorites, very impressive. It’s great that they buy only local / Australian meat.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Bethh: Yes, when you’re working with meat of this quality, and at this price level, you don’t want to mess it up. Like any butcher shop, I often ask their advice on how to cook it since they will rarely steer (no pun intended..) you wrong.

    • Lemon

    I very much like the idea of a butcher in a more stylish/ culinary/ specialty look /I’ve not seen before). The meat seems to be of high quality and you get the impression that they really care for the quality. This is a very interesting post, thanks for sharing.

    • guglielmo

    well… not exactely cheap

    • Karen

    A few months back the husband & I made the trek to Victor Churchill’s (after visiting the Donna Hay store ..please tell me you went there!) and the Husband almost fainted when they rang up the standing rib roast I insisted on buying. I don’t care if I only eat a decent roast once a year, it was worth every damn penny. The rabbit terrine was pretty good too.

    • JenniferB

    Those meat altars are just a wee bit too precious to my taste as are the astronomical prices! I wonder if the prices will go down once the renovations have been paid for. Huh!

    The last time I was in Sydney in 2003, a friend there told me of a cheese shop in a posh harbourside suburb that had many French cheeses, all imported of course, but there were no prices displayed. Apparently no-one dared ask either. A clever marketing trick that seems to work. What price snobbery!

    Anyhow, I am an Australian living in France and am delighted to be able to share your first visit to Oz. The French just snigger when I say that the food culture there has surpassed their own on many levels: their problem. In my time, 1980s, Adelaide was THE foodie city with excellent Italian, Greek, French and Thai restaurants along with ‘Australian Moderne’. And the beginnings of Australian ‘terroir’ with Maggie Beer’s restaurant, the Pheasant Farm (now closed) in the Barossa Valley. She rediscovered and now sells verjus (unripe grape juice), a wonderfully subtle alternative to white wine or vinegar in cooking that once was endemic in Europe. You can make it yourself by simply juicing unripe grapes before they turn sweet – lovely pale green juice.

    Keep up the tasty reporting!

    • Michael Booth

    This is how expensive meat really should be, and was prior to industrial farming. I suspect that if all meat was this costly, the world would be a healthier, better place.

    Sermon over!

    • ron shapley

    Wow… Quite a magnificent shop… Dave please excuse my ignorance but is that the price per pound ?????????? Indeed, the Prada of butcher shops..

    • Shaheen [The Purple Foodie]

    Such fantastic cuts. I have never seen raw meat look this pretty.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Emma: They actually have an Italian meat slicer that they spent 2 years renovating, which was gorgeous. It is so beautiful that an Italian specialty store offered them $45,000 AUS to purchase it and they turned them down. They said they’d never sell it.

    ron: The prices are per kilo (1 kg = 2.2 pounds) –

    JenniferB: That’s true and I’d have to say the quality of food here is better than anywhere else I’ve been or lived, with the exception of San Francisco. But the pries of the meat, I think, truly reflect how much goes in to producing them (dry-aged beef loses a lot of moisture and needs to be stored, both of which contribute to the higher cost.) The same butcher shop does run a less-expensive meat wholesaler as well.

    Michael: That’s a great observation.

    When I moved from the US, I saw how much more people pay for food in most modern countries. This shop, of course, is at the higher-end of it but still, you don’t see chicken for .59 cents/pound in Europe. When you think about what goes in to processing meat – and other foods – it’s surprising how inexpensive so many things are. It makes you think about how much a pound (or kilo) of beef would, or should, be, if produced ethically and sourced locally.

    • Rachel

    I wonder how they clean/sanitize those butcher-block, er, butchering stations. I thought today’s health and sanitary guidelines frowned upon wooden cutting boards for meat because they can’t be properly cleaned – short of sanding them down.

    Obviously wooden cutting boards have been used for many, many years – hence the name butcher’s block, I assume – but it seems a bit dicey. Maybe it is just my American food tv-watching induced paranoia coming out and there are different guidelines in Australia?

    I think in the US we sometimes have a warped sense of actual food costs because of all the subsidies and artificial pricing that goes on. It is refreshing to see prices that are more reality based, though at the high end of the spectrum, no doubt.

    • sonia

    Victor Churchill sounds amazing. There is a local butcher in Seattle, Rain Shadow Meats, that buys all their meat from local and sustainable sources. The meat is all labeled, the where and the who and I love it. The display isn’t quite so fancy but you can peer into a little window that holds their meat locker and get udates on facebook when they get a new cow in. The ‘local butcher’ has changed so much.

    • Jane Ridolfi

    your post makes me want to hop on a plane and march right over there! many thanks…….hoping all is well Jane

    • JenniferB

    Michael: you are so right. Thank you for the reminder.
    And because the supermarkets are waging a constant price war the farmers get paid less and less. These days I buy less meat but only high quality from butchers.

    • Kay@chopstix2steaknives

    Man!! Just when I have left Sydney. Woollahra is quite far off -ish. Can’t quite make this my local butcher if I was still living there.

    • Linda

    Many years ago we were students in Australia at ANU. I often accompanied my husband on his research trips to the outback. We often camped, but on one trip we were invited to stay at a cattle ranch in the Diamantina River country which was managed by an Australian and his Canadian wife Suzie.
    I volunteered to cook dinner for the cowboys and give Suzie a bit of a rest.
    The qauality of the meat was incredible as they had their own temperature controlled ageing chamber. It was a wonderful experience, even though the guys didn’t want to eat any vegetables, and they were not fond at my forays into Malay and Indian currys using the beef.
    We lived in Australia for 4 years and we consumed a lifetime of meat and terrific red wine!
    We will return for a long overdue visit in February and your articles have fueled my interest in to returning to Sydney once again.

    • Maia Brindley Nilsson

    Wow. Really amazing place. The Himalayan salt wall is extraordinary. I’m afraid that beef in Sweden is pretty disappointing, to the point that we really don’t buy it anymore. Although it’s not entirely comparable, this post made me miss Whole Foods Market and being able to buy a lovely little grass fed beef filet mignon to throw on the grill. Drool, drool, drool. Thank you for sharing even though now I’m feeling really bummed out about the chicken soup on the stove for dinner.

    • Gail

    We have a wonderful Butcher in Victoria, BC (The Village Butcher), who goes to great trouble to source as much local and natural product as possible but people still balk at $5.00 a pound for fresh, free range, non-medicated turkey. It’s fantastic to see another butcher promoting the skill and artistry of the craftsmen at work.

    • Kierston

    I am a HUGE fan of the cow. I wish there was a way for tourists to be able to enjoy a cut of their fresh and delectable looking meats whilst visiting their shop. Gorgeous photos

    • koch

    I don’t know what kind of animal that was whose hindquarters appear to be hanging upside-down in that last photo, but I bet a few days ago that animal took its life for granted the same as we do ours. It’s beyond sad that we so easily snuff out the lives of sentient creatures without even a moment’s relfection on how irreversible, profoundly violent that act is. All for display in a too cute by half butcher shop? Sad, sad, sad.

    • Sandy

    It is great to see people giving respect to a craft that is no longer respected as it should.
    I agree with Michale’s comments- meat should be a treat.

    • The Starving Student

    Wow that wagyu looks surreal! I am marveling at the marbling!

    • Carey

    Off topic, but I had to let you know….I was looking at the Amazon site and checking out the new Kindle products when all of a sudden I realized that they had YOUR BLOG on the screen of their new “Fire”!!! I got such a kick out of that…. :)

    • Mariana Pessôa

    Hi David!

    I love your blog and I love (so much!) meat! If I were you, I’d be a very happy person!

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Kierston: I think visitors could get some of the sliced charcuterie and/or pâté if they wanted to give it a try. Some of the higher-end restaurants in Sydney serve their meat so one could always ask as well. They’re pretty open not just about their sources, but about everything else.

    koch: The meat isn’t there for decoration; it’s in a room and being preserved and prepared for consumption. One thing I think a shop like this shows people that meat isn’t a cheap commodity, but something that is actually quite expensive to provide and makes people think about where their food comes from, how it’s raised, and it’s true value, as Michael pointed out.

    Maia: I really do like beef that has been dry-aged and it’s something that’s not done in France either, and I think it really makes it taste better. Unfortunately it makes the beef more expensive and is more work, but from what I’ve tasted, I think it’s worth it.

    Carey: I saw that on the Kindle page. Glad they liked my salad post! : )

    • Margie

    Amazing! Meat crafted artistically; I can only imagine how divine the taste is, but I’d probably have a heart attack when I went to pay for it. ;)

    • M Dominguez

    That last photo absolutely smashes the notion that grass fed beef is always leaner than grain feed! Incredible marbling…

    • Amanda

    Pricey meat indeed, but I imagine these prices reflect the real cost of producing a high quality product. My biggest concern would be to do the product justice in the kitchen.

    • Vicki Bensinger

    Wow, that’s some butcher shop. It’s like Tiffany’s but for meat!

    • JenniferB

    About the aged meat in France, it is possible but you have to find the right butcher or order it, obviously in 2-3 weeks in advance.
    I think it’s called ‘viande noir’. I asked a local butcher about it recently and he said that the French don’t have the taste for it. Another strong flavour!

    I ordered it once in Amsterdam where the butcher just left it in his cold cell for 2 weeks. This was prompted by Hester Blumental’s BBC program about the perfect steak: I was not the only Anglo-Saxon to order aged beef that week the butcher said. Once he cut off the noir bits there wasn’t much left but it was delicious. So don’t order a small cut like I did.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve not seen it in any butcher shops but I know some places like Le Severo (whose owner is a former butcher) do serve it. I don’t find the flavor strong – although perhaps to the French it is – but I like the tenderness, flavor, and how easy it is to cut.

    • flip

    This is the most beautiful butchers I have ever seen but I can’t afford to buy there! As Australians were have an abundance of beautiful quality fresh meat. I buy organic as much as possible, and it’s still less expensive than VC. The shop has to be seen to be believed it’s that stunning.

    • Leigh

    Wow…that’s….Total Butcher Porn! My family are butchers (grandfather, uncle, father, brother) and I can assure you our butchers in Yorkshire look nothing like this! A bit goldfish-bowl maybe? A bit ‘art for art’s sake?’ Definately. Style over substance, for me. Interesting nontheless!

    • Keely

    How has no one commented on the men chopping up meat in a coat and tie! Even the butchering outfit is classy.

    • Amanda

    Wow! Incredible. Those rounds they do the butchery on are so beautiful. I love that they have patés and terrines too. Who cares that it’s total spectacle, it’s soooo gorgeous, and that standing rib roast is a thing of beauty.


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