Monday, July 29, 2013

Red Friday - The Butchers Club

It's been an annoyingly rainy week but my Friday dinner was what I have been looking forward to. We had a group gathering at an industrial building in Aberdeen in the evening to try out The Butchers Club - a new, no-frill meat shop cum private kitchen. The guy behind the venture was the founder of Pacific Gourmet - first of its kind fine meat purveyor in Hong Kong and with The Butchers Club, he went one step further in specializing in dry aging - the tricky process of leaving the meat in specific temperature and humidity for a long period that brought out the natural flavors and tenderization of the meat. Well, a few restaurants in town have been offering dry-aged meat on the menu, so were some upscale meat shop which imported them in, but The Butchers Club was apparently the first to have its own aging facilities in such a large scale for its retail customers.

After we secured the reservation and obtained the quorum for the gathering - there's a minimum charge for booking out the venue - we started our discussions on what to order. Even though the place did have an impressive lineup of live seafood on the menu, we decided to focus on steak and steak alone, with just a few side dishes and condiments to go with it. After all, it's the dry-aged steak we were most eager to try. And at the end, we picked a piece of ribeye (approximately 10kg total) a month before our booking and have that aged for 30 days.

After knowing the amount of wines everyone's bringing to share, I decided to leave the car at home and take public transport, and it's surprisingly not hard to find - just round the corner as I get off the bus. Turned out it's the best decision. The unit is huge even though it doesn't appear to be that way as I walked in, as almost half of the space was used for keeping meat, either as the walk-in aging room or the chiller. Then the kitchen area took up almost a quarter of the remaining space, then the rest was the display case for retail sale and a table in which we were seated, just good enough for the ten of us. Behind the kitchen counter were the 2 chefs - Executive Chef Mike and Chef Aarik - who took care of our meat and prepared our dinner.

I arrived like 10 minutes late so everyone's already munching on the hor d'oeuvres of marinated olives and enjoying the sip of wine, and soon after the entire party arrived, we started our feast with some "light" appetizers of two salads - the tomatoes and onions salad, then a Caesar Salad prepared by the table. We had to keep reminding one another to save ourselves some appetite for later dishes, but the Caesar Salad prepared by Chef/Butcher Aarik was so good that we finished two big bowl-ful in no time. The croutons were made from fresh breads, and they cured their bacon (and smoked with applewood) as well, so it has a good bite with intense meat flavor, and never too salty or dry at all. We also enjoyed the tomato and onions salad (simply with a drizzle of vinaigrette) and house-baked bread.

After our salad, the chefs brought out the meat from the dry-aging room where it spent 30 days in zero-degree Celsius condition. At this point, the ribeye shrunk quite a bit (with loss of moisture) and turned into a piece with intense dark-red color encased in a crust-like surface. And in front of us, the steak was cut into pieces - most of us requested that to be in 1.5 inch thick and cooked medium rare. We didn't re-weigh the steak, but I think we had around 20 ounces each.

With a steak like this we really didn't need any seasonings - just a dash of sea salt was all that's needed so the steak was cooked with a good salted crust, before it's put on top of the gas grill. It's perfectly cooked, rightly seasoned and with good crust and the enticing flavors of burnt fat trimmings - we asked the chef not to cut off the trimmings as he would normally do, cuz we certainly didn't mind the fat! We were moaning and groaning as we put the knife to it, in a happy way of course. It's probably the best piece of meat I have ever tasted. It's no surprise that almost everybody couldn't finish our pieces, but we were happy to bring them home - I turned mine into a fried rice a couple days later and it's still great.

The steak also came with the side dishes - I don't think anyone has even touched the bowls of broccoli on the table, but we certainly finished all of the fat fries "cooked thrice in duck fat" and the sauteed shiitake mushrooms. The homemade sauces were worth mentioning too - particularly the classic Bernaise sauce and the Argentine chimichurri. Both worked well with a steak in their unique way.

By the time we finished our main courses all of us were so full, but still, when the chefs brought over the finale bit - an artisan French cheese platter and the whole new york style cheesecake with berries, all of us started raising our fork again and dig in, as if we forgot we just ate a 20 ounces of meat. The cheesecake was not as filling as I thought and I finished my slice in no time. And by then I was completely satisfied.

We shared over a dozen of wines among us 10 for the evening - starting with a couple from Barossa, to New Zealand, South Africa, Lebanon, Napa, Bordeaux, then Tuscany, and a couple bubbly - hence complete our round-the-world (wine) flight. My favorite of the night was definitely the 2001 Dominus Estate - it's maturing nicely with subtle nose, a velvety and rounded note, ripe red fruit flavor and good long finish. Worked just right with the steak. My contribution of a 2007 Brunello from Casanova di Neri faded in comparison - it's not bad per se I reckon, but just hard to stand up against the big, mature Bordeaux-style blends which we had earlier during the meal.

It's an absolutely delightful meal, and everyone went home happy and satisfied. I was so full as I walked out the door, that if it's possible to walk home, I would. The location could be a bit out of the way, but trust me, you won't regret making a detour for this.

More pictures on my flickr page:

When? July 26 2013
Where? The Butchers Club
Menu Highlights? Australian Black Angus Bone-in Ribeye, 30 day dry aged
2000 Chateau Masur, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
2006 Chateau La Fleur Peyrabon, Pauillac, France
2009 Mt. Difficulty Chardonnay, Central Otago, New Zealand
1995 Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri Sassicaia, Tuscany, Italy
2001 Dominus Estate, Napa, USA
2009 Henschke Keyneton Euphonium, Barossa, Australia
2008 Etude Estate Pinot Noir, Napa, USA
2007 Casanova Di Neri Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy
2001 The Chocolate Block, Boekenhoutskloof Winery, Franschhoek, South Africa
NV, Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial, Champagne, France
NV, Domaine Chandon Brut Classic

1 comment :

HK Epicurus said...

Sorry I am not sure if I missed it haha - but what is the minimum charge per table here? Many thanks G !


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