Where are the chicken breasts? The chops? And what about the mince? You’ll need to ask the guy in the apron, Marcus Papadopoulo, who will go to the cool room out the back and, like a medieval hunter, grab a whole beast. He’ll then carry it to the wooden block in the centre of the shop, slam it down and dexterously cut a hunk to either wrap up for you to take home or first mince, if that’s the cut you require.
This is Potts Point’s Whole Beast Butchery – a provedore where everything is stored and dry aged whole, a process that enhances the flavour and tenderness of the meat. Papadopoulo, who hails from one of Sydney’s best butchers, Vic’s Meats, carves everything to the weight and specifications you want, including steaks, racks of lamb ribs or slabs of pork belly. “This shop might not be the cleanest shop at times but that's because we're working in here. It's a real shop. I don't want to sterilise the experience,” he says.
If you have no idea how many grams of sirloin you need or how lean or fatty a cut your recipe requires, Papadopoulo will figure it out. If you need, say, 13 chicken livers or 80 grams of lamb hearts, he can get that, too.
“The idea of a whole-animal butchery is to create interest in all the cuts,” he says. “I want to make this as old school as possible. Meat already cut on a tray, removed from the carcass and removed from the idea that this came from an animal that was once alive – I want to reverse that and bring service and quality back. Everyone who walks in this shop is greeted by me, and everyone will get time, even if you need 20 minutes.”
If you’re after steak, the beef is aged between six to eight weeks, while the pig, lamb and beef carcases (for other cuts of beef) are aged a minimum of 14 days. The carcases come directly from small farms, and Papadopoulo looks for beasts that have been grass fed, are an optimal size, and have good muscle confirmation and fat coverage.
It’s not all raw meat though. There are also rillettes, pâtés, jars of pickles, as well as tomato sugo and chilli jam, all of which are made on the premises. The only things that aren’t, the cured meats, are from industry legends De Palma Salumi and Pino’s Dolce Vita.