The butcher is open

September 2009

Last month, we recorded the imminent arrival of Victor Churchill (132 Queen Street, Woollahra, Ph 9328 0402). Then I received an invitation to the opening. Having never been to the opening of a butcher shop before — let alone one catered by the likes of Damien Pignolet (Monday night), Peter Gilmore (Tuesday night) and Shannon Bennett (Wednesday night) and attended by (according to one of the numerous press releases) “a mix of restaurant industry heavyweights, Sydney A-listers and media” — I had to go.

I frocked up and sauntered down Queen Street to find a  very posh butcher shop situated on the site of the old (established 1876) Churchill’s Butchery, and thereby hangs a tale. Victor Churchill is the brainchild of Sydney’s meat purveyors to the top-end restaurant trade, Victor Puharich and his son Anthony. The original Churchill was also Victor, so the new name pays homage to both butchers.

Victor Churchill the man is a handsome and charming bloke who opened his first shop on Oxford Street in 1974 — currently the site of Jim’s Butcher shop. In those days, he told me, there were eight butcher shops around Taylor Square.

But this place is something else. Designed by Michael McCann (Flying Fish, Whitewater et cetera) it is, at the same time, luxurious and down to earth. First up, it’s a hymn of praise to the consumption of meat: whole aged carcasses beautifully displayed, aged fore- and hindquarters in the window. It gleams with marble and stainless steel and there’s a wall of hair-on calf skin. Maybe the funniest touch is the chipolata wallpaper in the loo.

I’d recommend a trip to Victor Churchill for all dedicated omnivores. It raises the bar yet again on butcher shops first set by Terry Wright at Terry Wright Gourmet Meats, then raised by Colin Holt at Hudson’s. What next? Valet parking? Butchers in blue-and-white-striped dinner jackets?

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