Royal Beef on Danforth
Don't exactly live in the neighbourhood, but stop in when I'm not up to dealing with the crowds at Meat on the Beach.
As much as I want to like Royal Beef, it's a real stretch for me.
The last couple of times I've gone in looking for a recommendation, it's been met with a kind of flippant shoulder shrug. It's not that I don't look like I have a few dollars to spare or anything.
Overall, I find the place a bit drab and lacking life. The butcher guy is pretty grumpy.
I'm sure I'll go back, but I think they could do so much better. I sure get the impression they don't really care.
If you want a break from Meat on the Beach drive up to Jerry's. It is up on the Danforth on the second block east of Greenwood. Jerry's has a good selection and the staff know their cuts of meat. I have always had really friendly service from the staff who are have always been quick to offer a suggestion or advice.
Meat on the Beach
1860 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA
Since we moved to TO 6 weeks ago, I looked online for reviews about good butchers. I read them all, including this one. Glad I decided to try it. Their rib-eyes are to die for. When you age them as long as they do at Royal Beef (7 weeks) no wonder they are like butter... Best we have had so far across 2 provinces and 4 cities. Now I keep going back because every time I want to try a new cut of meat for a unusual recipe- they have it or will cut it for me. (so tired of the standard cuts available at other places)
I admit I spent a few minutes talking to Gord - introduced myself - found out a little about the store. Then, I made sure to go back and tell him personally how much we loved and appreciated their meat. Carmen is of course lovely and delightful and gave me some good tips.
I always get a smile when I go in, or I make it my business to obtain one..
I won't go anywhere else unless there is a reason to.
1968 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C, CA
My wife surprised me with a couple Delmonicos from RB (we're lucky enough to live 4 blocks north). They were expensive ($25 for 2 nice sized steaks) and the amount of fat and rind concerned me. But I grilled them on a super high heat and let them char a bit (to really render all that fat). They were on the grill for a total of 8 minutes and rested for the same amount of time.
They were the BEST store-bought steaks I've ever had. I'll get nothing else when I want a steak at home, but will consider them a treat considering how 'rich' they were.
I too have a soft spot for this place. I only had the opportunity to order from Paul Estrela a couple of times before he passed away, but Gord's always been fine enough to deal with (he never complains when I ask him to cut my shorts ribs). Truth be told, I've only ever bought short ribs and tri-tips from this place, so I can't speak to the quality of the rest of the produce (but I think Allen's still claims it gets all its beef from Royal Beef, and I like the burger at Allen's...).
Saturday mornings wouldn't be the same without RB: fresh ricotta, canolis (I've never had better) and pitas with fresh tzatziki.
They also carry some pretty good cheeses - they introduced me to "drunken goat".
And then there's the chaurice sausage. Paul talked me into putting some in my turkey stuffing a few years ago and it was a brilliant idea.
We usually go at least once a week and more often now that we're grilling meat almost every night. The tri tips are fabulous for the barbecue. Gord is always accommodating about cutting the meat the way we want, for instance, we usually want a smaller chunk of beef for pot roast (in the winter), so he will cut one in half and wrap the other half for our freezer. It's too bad you got a negative impression because my experience is that they really do care.
And I agree, it's better to ask for the meat and cut you want or choose from the meat counter, don't bother with the wrapped stuff on the side. And I also agree the sausages are not great.
Gord treats me well when I pop in. The steaks are fantastic and are a great price. He'll cut whatever I want from the back. The mild Italian sausages aren't bad, neither is the lamb, but I am usually there for the steak. It's great stuff and personally I think it's better than Meat on the Beach and anything at St. Lawrence Market.
I'm sad you haven't had a good experience. I love it there and go every 2 weeks or so. I have been helped with recipes I had in hand and been given new ones. I know this happens often - one person's heaven is another's hell. And while there have certainly been some things I will stay away from (their sausages are not my favourite for example) I have found every cut of beef I've tried to be exactly what I wanted and the chicken flavourful...
You must deal only with Gord at the meat counter and tell him exactly what you want. They have never put their best stock on display. Other than the beef, though, their meats and poultry have never been top notch. Gord doesn't have (founder) Paul's personality, but he's always been okay. If he has become grumpy, or doesn't seem to care, something significant is wrong. The other guys working there don't have much to offer.
The front of the store, Carm's Deli (she's Paul's widow) is as lively as ever.