Best New Food Shops: Raging Bull Meats

It’s a little unusual to find ostrich, springbok, zebra, kangaroo and crocodile on a dull, grey stretch of Finchley Road. This South African butcher, located by the Childs Hill section of the long, snaking Finchley Road between Cricklewood Lane and Hendon Way, sells all these exotic game meats plus traditional own-cured meat snacks. It opened in autumn of last year – normally outside our remit of ‘new’ – but we couldn’t tell you about it before as it went through a few “changes of identity”, rapidly evolving into a general food shop selling global ingredients, before reverting back to a speciality butcher. And although there are several South African butchers in south London, this is the main place in north London, and rare in that it has an on-site production kitchen.

The plain, unadorned, functional-looking shop is owned by Laurence Gluckman, whose family from South Africa has been in the meat business for four generations. The company first started as a wholesale business five years ago, supplying restaurants, delis, butchers, farm shops, food halls and bars (which they still do), before opening his first retail shop. There’s a glass-partitioned kitchen to one side, where you can see cured meats and fresh sausages being made from scratch.

Grass-fed silverside beef used for making cured meats is from Botswana and Namibia, as beef cannot be exported from South Africa into EU countries because it contains growth hormones. The exotic game meats, however, do come from South Africa as well as Australia; while ribs, lamb chops, chicken and other fresh meat products are sourced from the UK and Ireland. The game meats are bought as whole joints and portioned into steaks. Three types of fresh sausages including boerewors (spiced spiral sausages, £10/kg) are made at the start of each week, along with droewors (thin dried sausages, £2.50/100g), biltong (moist, thin flakes of dried cured meat, £3/100g) and snapsticks (brittle, chewy air-dried meat sticks, £3.50/100g). All of these are made from beef, and come in plain or peri peri flavours.

Also sold here are Welsh lamb chops marinated in mint and rosemary; and free-range spatchcock chicken in lemon and pepper or peri peri flavours. Wagyu beef (£35/kg) is imported from “the world’s second largest wagyu farm in Australia”, supplied by the Australian Agricultural Company (AAC). Further delights for carnivores include pâtés made in France with venison, pheasant, partridge and wild boar; plus assorted seafood terrines (crab, trout, prawn) in jars. Pre-packed Italian salamis are also available.

To flavour the meat, there’s whole smoked garlic from Emberton in Buckinghamshire; and a variety of South African seasonings, marinades, stocks and sauces. Other grocery items include cereals, chocolates, biscuits, confectionery, snacks and crispbread. And not so easily available in London before, you can find renowned South African branded items popular with ex-pats, such as Ouma rusks (£3.40), Freshpak rooibos tea (£1.70), Peppermint Crisp (£1.60), Simba crisps (£1.90), Steers sauces (£3), Spur sauces (£3.90) and chunky bottles of Mrs Balls chutneys (£3.20). Drinks range from South African beers, ciders, brandies and squashes, to wines from Cape Town.

The cured meats can be purchased online; and will be available from Ocado later in the summer. Raging Bull is keen to be an essential part of the neighbourhood and is a hub for Farm Drop, a new scheme in which customers can order local, seasonal produce directly from farmers and pick it up from nearby collection points. So this friendly butcher manages to be both intensely local and wonderfully exotic at the same time.

Raging Bull Meats, 400A Finchley Road, NW2 2HR. Tel: 020 7433 1177

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Note: businesses featured in this series are chosen editorially, and not as part of a promotion.

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