If you’re passing through Rosebery and notice the smell of smoke in the air, don’t panic. It’s not one of your favourite outlet stores going up in flames, nor a barrel of nearly ready Archie Rose single malt combusting.
It’s coming from one of Argyle Butchery and Smokehouse’s brand new industrial smokers, and it’s stuffed full of some of Australia’s best meat.
Filling the meat hooks that were, until recently, occupied by Kingsmore Meats, the newly opened Argyle Butchery in The Cannery is the first Australian retail outlet for one of the country’s most highly regarded meat exporters and wholesalers.
With three farms across NSW, Argyle Black supplies beef to major restaurants in Sydney as well as in in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali and throughout China.
Founder Jonathan Glover says a retail arm for Argyle is the ultimate expression of its “paddock to plate” ethos. “I know that phrase gets bandied around a lot, but this is the real deal.
“In terms of farming, it’s fully vertically integrated and humane,” Glover says. “They’re not using feed lots. All the cattle are grass fed, with some grain added to their diet. I think it gives the product a completely different flavour and level of respectability.”
Those with a penchant for umami – and a bit of patience – can select a side of beef from Argyle’s meat display cases and have it hung in one of its temperature (and humidity) controlled dry-aging rooms; the giant arched windows make it easy for you to stop past and watch the magical little enzymes go to work on your rib-eye, rump or short loin (T-bone). The beef cut is about eight kilograms (and costs around $300) and staff suggests it should hang for a minimum 21 days.
It’s a process that gives the meat a remarkable depth of flavour, spiked with fat Glover says develops the flavours of “nuts, blue cheese, truffle and mushrooms”.
Once it’s ready, gather 15 friends, watch the large timber table get lowered from the ceiling via a series of pulleys, then sit back and let the beef festivities begin. It’s an experience called the “Butcher’s Table”, and it’s one that Glover says has already proven popular at his previous business, The Butcher’s Club in Hong Kong.
“We used to have a six-month waitlist for these nights,” he says. “We pull the shutters down and decorate the place, but we want you to know you’re in a butcher’s shop. It’s all about that dry-aged beef. When you arrive it’s on display and we butcher it at the table into big, fat steaks. We grill them and then serve them family-style at the table.”
Those less patient can opt for one of the venue’s Texas-style smokehouse offerings that include beechwood-smoked meat platters, or one of the “burnt ends” sandwiches.
“We take the point of the brisket and we smoke it for 12 hours at a really low temperature,” he says. “We then chop it into bite-sized chunks, we marinate it in our own barbeque sauce and then we smoke it again.”
The indulgently glazed meat is paired with American-made pickles and a soft potato bun. “People are going crazy for it.”
Overseeing both the smokers and the grill is chef Ryan Crawford, whose stints in London’s Michelin-starred Nobu and the celebrated kitchens of Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Marina Club (the Shangri-La’s private members club) were followed last year by the opening of Ryan’s Gourmet Kitchen, a small cafe in Westleigh, half an hour north-west of Sydney.
“I had 95 chefs under me and I wasn’t cooking anymore,” Crawford says. “I was just a glorified accountant with a chef's jacket on. So I came back [from Hong Kong]. I just wanted to cook.”
Argyle Butchery and Smokehouse
Unit 10, The Cannery, 81 Mentmore Avenue, Rosebery
Daily 10am–5pm (pre-booked dinner 7pm–late)
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on June 6, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.