It’s good to support your local shops and indeed I try to. I have a local butcher and he’s very good for your standard fare; the meat’s well hung, the sausages are made by the butchers themselves, they’re friendly and the meat’s local. Sounds perfect you might think, but there’s one big snag; when asking for free range chicken, game, mutton or anything a bit, well, different I get the following: “ooh not much call for that round ‘ere.” This article is a confession; I’m seeing another butcher.
WH Frost and Sons has been selling meat to Chorltonites since 1910 when the shop was opened by Jack Frost; the business is still in the family and is growing from strength to strength. Dedicated to sourcing quality local produce, Frosts won the Manchester Food and Drink Award 2011 for Best Food and Drink Outlet and is a member of the Guild of Q Butchers. Chorlton is not local to me and has never been; but I have yet to find anything that beats them for quality, dedication, customer service and scope of produce.
The dedicated commitment and care that WH Frost displays in their attitude to working is not only appreciated by Chorltonites and foodies like me; WH Frost is an ever expanding empire with 22 full time members of staff sourcing and delivering produce to pubs, supper clubs and restaurants – with some Michelin starred customers having kept long running accounts. Unlike other catering butchers they do not find the cheapest meat from the easiest source (usually countries like Poland and injected with water to plump it up); instead they ensure everything is British unless it is a specific product eg. poulet de bresse.
For a high street butcher, Frosts is well stocked; the meat sourced from farms in and around Cheshire and the North West. The meat is hung properly, the beef for a full 28 days (you can ask for it longer) so you’ll find no bright red, sweaty polythene packs or the ‘aged’ steak you find in supermarkets (most supermarket steaks are cut and put in the packs from freshly slaughtered animals, they are then held in refrigeration units for a set number of days; so not matured properly allowing the fibres to relax and water to come out).
As well as beef, lamb, chicken, pork and the handmade sausages, there’s plenty else to tickle your taste buds. Venison chorizo, game from local shoots, whole legs of serrano ham, pickles, duck eggs and even cheeses such as the wonderful Burt’s Blue from Altrinham and the hard to source Norwegian Brunost.
The variety of choice doesn’t end there. Want something special for that Masterchef menu you’re perfecting or a quality bird for Christmas? Frosts will source what you need (marrow bones, rose veal, bath chaps, goose, smoked back fat) or they can suggest meats, foods, cooking techniques and even life advice.
Obviously you’re impressed and want to pay them a visit; this is where WH Frosts is moving with the times and keeping abreast with the modern customer. My local butcher opens at 9am and closes at 5pm sharp; they don’t open on Wednesday afternoons and are only open until noon on a Saturday. I’m out before they open, home after they close and am pretty lazy on a Saturday morning/go away a lot. WH Frost is open Mon-Sat 7am-5pm (plus if you follow them on Twitter you can get a sneaky order in at midnight when you’re craving some chicken livers) and they’ve even been known to drop orders for repeat customers at a location to suit them.
You’re not going to find bargain basement prices, lucky dip meat bags or chickens for less than a fiver here. What you will find is consistent quality and pride in the way they work and what they sell. You can get carried away with the expensive produce, however shop wisely and ask questions; the staff will point you in the direction of cuts you can’t get in the supermarket and you’ll be rewarded with something that tastes fantastic and something you can resolutely trust is good quality produce.
Ps – Get your Christmas meat orders in quick! WH Frost sources quality free-range birds such as Copas turkeys and Gressingham geese; plus they ensure the birds are slaughtered as close to Christmas as possible. Some butchers and supermarkets will have their birds slaughtered from late November and then kept in bubbles of inert gas to keep them fresh until Christmas – not a concept I find appealing and I’m sure you don’t either.
WH Frosts, 14 Chorlton Place, Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9AQ – 0161 881 1827 – Twitter