From its roots in the heart of Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg to the second floor of Bahrain City Centre, The Butcher Shop & Grill continues to punctuate the culinary landscape as an institution in South African dining. Kristian Harrison checked out the restaurant, which also offers a separate butchery, and sampled some of its finest wares.
There are very few culinary delights which get me more excited than steak, so imagine how quickly I jumped at this opportunity to try some of the Kingdom’s finest fare. Coupled with the fact that I am fasting for the Holy Month, I was particularly ravenous and therefore delighted to be greeted by the friendly staff at the outlet.
I felt right at home right from the beginning – a feeling helped by the pleasant ambience, with soft mood lighting punctuated by various cattle-themed designs and ornaments.
Settling down at the table, I started off slowly with a Goat Cheese Salad, dubbed ‘The Fantasy’ on the menu. This mix of crumbled goat’s cheese, mesclun, walnuts and fresh berries was the perfect way to settle in. The crunchiness of the green leaves was complemented by the soft and creamy cheese, while the berries brought the zest and sweetness. Washed down with a minted lemonade, one of many juices, soft drinks and mocktails available on the menu, I was ready to move on to meatier things.
They certainly did not disappoint with the Brisket & Cheese starter. The braised brisket cooked in gravy, topped with melted cheese and peppered with herbs and spring onion was a pure delight. The brisket was as tender as you’d expect and the combination of flavours with the cheese meshed really well.
The Chicken Coxinha was something totally new to me. These fried delights, which are chicken, cream cheese and spring onion wrapped in dough, were just the perfect level of crumbliness and were packed full of flavour, particularly when dipped in the accompanying garlic aioli.
As great as these were, I was definitely ready for the main event by this point. And wow, did they deliver!
Of course, I have to talk about the steak first. All are 100 to 120 days grain-fed South African beef. I opted for the T-Bone (550g) and my preferred doneness: medium-rare!
The chef deserved my finest compliments because it was grilled flawlessly, with that satisfying first cut revealing the pinkish-brown colour of steak perfection. The meat was packed with juicy flavour. Dipped in mushroom sauce, and paired with the added corn on the cob and onion rings, it was an absolute treat.
The beef ribs were also fantastic, with the meat falling off the bone effortlessly and thus passing the ultimate test of their quality. The tangy BBQ sauce and the beef was an excellent combination.
My favourite dish of the evening, which considering the quality of the competition is some feat, was the Chicken Espetada. This hanging skewer was simply incredible, with a lightly-spiced sauce dripping down the chicken onto a plate of rice below, with the end result being an explosion of flavour that blew me away.
Finally, I rounded off the evening with the Strawberry Cheesecake – the perfect balance of soft, mousse-like cheese and crumbly biscuit.
I left fully satisfied and impressed with The Butcher Shop & Grill’s offerings, and I will definitely be heading back at the nearest opportunity. I need more of their Espetada!