That's not new! one might yell out upon reading the title, but that colon between Blue and Butcher marks the start of a new concept and a space transformed, with the bottom bar area doubling as a butcher shop slicing up the tastiest cuts of meat your heart can muster desire for.
The ground floor is still that cool street-side bar for casual sipping and people watching, but it's also now a butcher shop, so you can get your cut of meat to cook up at home after you've finished your cocktail. Upstairs, it's a brighter, airier space than the previous dark den, and there are lots of huge leather bench booths for families and larger parties. Otherwise, it's much the same as the previously colon-less Blue Butcher. They are continuing their environmental initiatives that are practised throughout Maximal Concepts restaurants, such as no plastic and palm oil used in any of their restaurants, and 90 per cent of their seafood is from sustainable sources.
There's a new butcher on the block and he's called Jonny Farrell, a Northern English bloke with a passion for all things meat. He'll be providing a bespoke butchery service and sharing his knowledge on cuts directly with customers. Plus he's got a very cool meat-cutting room, lined with pink Himalayan salt bricks to seep a slightly sweeter taste into the meat. On the way up the stairs to the restaurant you can watch him putting his cleaver to work in the best macabre way possible. Jonny is gleeful like a kid in a candy shop, carving up bacon behind his showcase window and explaining the cuts to eager, drooling customers. Watch out for our interview with the meat man himself next week.
Award-winning mixologist extraordinaire Suraj Gurung has some new flavours on the menu that include a few dessert cocktails for a fun way to drink your afters. We sampled the Warhol, which was topped with chilli oil, and then the dangerously moreish Revolver, a whisky, absinthe and lemon sherbet concoction that will leave you thirsting for another round (pun fully intended).
The first food item we were presented with was the start of a new era of meat-based enjoyment for us. A candle crafted from the fat of the Rubia Gallega cut of beef was placed before us, accompanied by a bread basket. The candle was lit, emitting a tantalising meat-filled aroma, by the master butcher himself as he proudly told us its origins. The drippings proceeded to pool at the bottom, waiting to be scooped up by a slice of Blue's home-baked bread. This was a joy in every respect, from the unexpected delivery to the whisper of sea salt flakes and sumptuous fatty flavour – it's pure bliss on bread. This is the kind of candlelit dinner a foodie appreciates.
A gorgeously presented tower of tuna tartare came along with wheels of radish sesame crackers for a light crunch underneath the intense flavours of the acidic fish. Scallop ceviche (a dish Chef Edgar Sanuy is renowned for and frequently experiments with) came next, with curls of cucumber and green apple and the surprise tang from raspberries, which cut beautifully through the balsamic and dill guacamole. We tore through the fleshy octopus with its bitter taste complements of charred leek and a highly appropriate ink mash. The Rubia Gallega croquette didn't fully exploit the rich flavour of the meat, so we saved ourselves for seconds of the rich bone marrow, which is the most beautiful guilty pleasure.
The main event was next up, which is what you've heard mentioned twice already: the 45-day dry-aged Rubia Gallega. This is the name of the 12– to 16-year-old Galician blonde cows that spend their early lives working hard as milking cows in Spain. They are then literally put out to pasture, where they spend a decade or so of retirement chewing on grass. This easy life, where they're no longer expected to produce, relaxes the cows' muscles, producing a tender (but don't expect young cow tender) and extremely flavourful steak from, give or take, 18 years of grassy goodness. When the steak arrives, it's an alluring and glistening hunk of meat, with the fat on the ends curled up like juicy fingers. The first taste provides a unique, almost cheesy flavour that's intense and concentrated in every chew of the beef. Chef Edgar recommends combining it with a simple green salad dressed in balsamic to cut through the dramatic taste, with enough acidity to cleanse the palate, and this worked perfectly together.
The pastry chef prepared exquisite arrangements to end the meal, from the red velvet cake layered delicately with chocolate and raspberries, to the unexpected delight of the sweetcorn ice cream on Valrhona chocolate cake, to the hidden depths of the refreshing lime sorbet beneath a spiky head of meringue and lime curd. Just try to abstain.
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