I was off for my meat meeting—how often do you get to say that—and my mouth was already watering at the prospect. Of course, not a day goes by without passing one of the many red and white maso a uzeniny signs that dot Prague’s cityscape, but intuition told me that The Real Meat Society would be a butcher’s shop of a different color.
A small, unassuming, corner locale just off Jiráskovo square, there’s no mistaking meat is their trade. The street-side window had been converted into a mini meat cooler, and hanging slabs of Angus T-bone and sirloin greeted me upon arrival. This cleverly-arranged window display caused passersby—especially middle-aged Czech men—to pause in mid-stride.
The friendly butcher popped out multiple times to welcome potential customers. One man just commented, “To je zajímavé!”—interesting, indeed. The Real Meat Society, which only sells free range meat from local farmers, officially opened on Friday April 6th, after two years in the making.
It all started when Paul Day, the butcher shop’s British co-owner, vowed not to use Argentinian or Brazilian meat in his Asian fusion restaurant, Sansho. “I’m dead against it,” he emphasized. Day travelled around the Czech Republic on a carnivorous odyssey, searching for willing farmers and organizing the slaughter and dry-aging logistics. Later, after so many Sansho frequenters remarked on the superb quality of the meat, he decided to go ahead with the butcher’s shop.
Paul and co-owner Michaela Jorgensen work directly with three to four small farmers, although their main supply comes from Savov Farm in Jihlava. The livestock are antibiotic and hormone free, well-slaughtered, well-butchered and live outdoors for most of their lives. “The animal is treated with respect from its birth to our shop,” stated Jorgensen.
They also pride themselves on being whole animal butchers, proponents of the nose-to-tail eating philosophy (hence the possibility of even buying dog food at their shop). If they don’t have the cut you’re searching for, feel free to place a request in person or through their website, and within a week you’ll have it.
The Real Meat Society also boasts dry-aged beef, a rarity in and of itself. Dry-aging is not a common practice in the Czech Republic, or in the rest of the world. The aging takes place in special cooling chambers and during the process, moisture evaporates, and the beef’s natural enzymes tenderize the meat. It can lose between ten and fifteen percent of its original weight, which means you’re left with a greater concentration of beef flavor (and consequently, a greater price).
At the moment, their goal is to target the Czech population. “We want to make Czech meat more accessible for Czechs,” said co-owner Michaela Jorgenssen, “and show that Czech beef doesn’t have to be hard and chewy.” But, thankfully, they won’t turn us fellow expats away at the door; in fact, the display case is dually labeled in English and Czech, and the butcher speaks a smattering of English. I was grateful for that, as numerous items had already piqued my appetite.
I couldn’t pass up the hand-pattied Black Angus burgers (42 CZK/100 g); two of them came to 105 CZK. Once home, I fried them up pan style, and let the degustation begin. They’re well-seasoned and when cooked sparingly (to a bloody goodness in the center), the juicy burgers more than appeased my taste buds. Imagine the added flavor of doing them up properly on the grill. One drawback: the size—I could’ve easily gobbled down both of them myself. I would suggest buying two per person if you want your marriage or friendship to weather the meal. Either that or invite a few of your vegetarian friends over for dinner.
In the land of Czech and German-style klobása, I had a hankering to try something different. If you’re not put off by green-colored sausage, try the Mexická klobáska (32 CZK/100g)—the jalapeño-coriander combination really packs a wallop. The Havajská klobáska (32 CZK/100g) had a vaguely sweet flavor but was delectable nonetheless. The Breakfast Sausage (29 CZK/100g) tasted just as it should, and went down well with some scrambled eggs. For four sausages, the grand total was 96 CZK.
I hadn’t broken the bank yet, so I took a deep breath and ordered some of the 9-week-dry-aged sirloin steaks. As the butcher was cutting two generous slices, I mentally calculated the amount of cash I had on me. At 750 CZK/kilo, it came to 500 CZK—I could live with that. This dry-aging business isn’t a gimmick. Though a bit fattier than I’m used to (this is necessary for the dry-aging process), the depth of meaty flavor surpassed my expectations, and I would definitely get it again, when in the mood for a special treat.
Opening another butcher’s shop in this city is a gutsy venture, but with Paul Day’s track record, it’s sure to succeed. And if the number of people gawking at the display cooler is any indication, this place is going to be a hit. I walked away a happy customer, but as I was exiting with my paper bag full of goodies, a plump pork chop beckoned to me. Next visit, I promised.
Where: Náplavní 5, Prague 2
Public transport: tram 14, 17 or 21 to Jiráskovo náměstí
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Wednesday 11:00 – 17:00, Thursday – Friday 11:00 – 18:00, Saturday 9:00 – 12:00
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