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The Healthy Butcher

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miranda Mar 5, 2009 05:10 PM

I bought osso bucco pot pie (large) for $28 which feeds 2 really...it was awfull..too much fat ...never go there again...Miranda

  1. p
    pizzatheorem Mar 5, 2009 05:25 PM

    They seem to have lovely stuff but a little out of my price range. The only time I tried to buy anything there was for four chicken breasts. Not whole breasts, halves. The four breast halves came to over $39. I told the nice man to put them back. I've sample their cheeses and sliced meats though, quite nice. And their sausages look good.

    3 Replies
    1. re: pizzatheorem
      s
      Snarf Mar 5, 2009 05:38 PM

      Had the chickens had implants? That's pricey. Were they the much touted menonite chickens? I'm sure they're very good, and that the way in which they were naturally raised bodes well for their nutritional value, but this makes me wonder whether the 'how much will they pay' competition is still ongoing.

      I have a lot of respect for the good people who are making the effort to make our food the best it could possibly be, but think that at this point in time, we the buying public aren't well educated about where the margin is and who gets it. Current sales seem to be based on exclusivity rather than market determination. Sort of like buying Kristapson's from a high end reseller. When you go to the producer, it's much less. I'm wondering if that will shake out in the organic meat world as well.

      1. re: Snarf
        p
        pizzatheorem Mar 5, 2009 06:02 PM

        I didn't make any specific inquiries as to the origin of the chickens. I assumed they were free range, etc...
        I agree, it's hard to figure out what's worth what, and that a lot comes down to prestige. The best thing we can do is examine reviews and either accept them or reject them.

      2. re: pizzatheorem
        a
        ace123 Mar 5, 2009 06:04 PM

        I agree it's quite pricey. I bought 4 chicken thigh (with skin & bone) & that's almost $12.

      3. t
        tjr Mar 5, 2009 06:29 PM

        I don't buy "prepared" things, but their regular meats are of good quality, and the conscience behind the operation is there... if that matters to you.

        14 Replies
        1. re: tjr
          t
          Tatai Mar 5, 2009 07:23 PM

          The chickens at The Healthy Butcher are enormous. They're also the most flavourful chickens around. Instead of buying parts, I usually buy a whole chicken and get it cut into eighths; it's much less costly this way. When whole chickens are on sale, the counter staff makes a point of letting customers know that it's more economical to buy the whole chicken than to buy parts.

          1. re: Tatai
            jayt90 Mar 6, 2009 03:01 AM

            How much for a whole chicken on sale? I seem to recall someone on Chow paying $25 for a whole bird.

            1. re: jayt90
              t
              todc1996 Mar 6, 2009 03:28 AM

              Have you tried The Friendly Butcher?
              They're on Yonge north of Lawrence. I find his prices to be excellent. There are tons of prepared foods there although I haven't tried many of them.
              Naturally raised eggs are $3.99 and I believe his chicken breasts are somewhere b/w 7.99 and 8.99 I think, which is a very fair price for naturally raised chicken.
              I highly recommend. It's an excellent place to shop.
              The effort of the owner with respect to his knowlege of his farmers, his products and his enthusiasm for "meat" is very refreshing in this day & age.

              1. re: todc1996
                jayt90 Mar 6, 2009 04:24 AM

                Good to know.
                I managed to score a box of breasts 5.5 lb for $48, from www.beefconnections.ca
                These will be delivered tomorrow, This is more than I usually pay, and in fact I don't often buy breast meat from battery birds; but these chickens were free range and milk fed, a special project from U. of Guelph.

                It is similar to getting milk fed pork from Cumbrae's, something that won't happen every day.

              2. re: jayt90
                t
                Tatai Mar 6, 2009 04:30 AM

                Sorry, jayt90, I don't totally recall, but when on sale, a whole bird comes in at well below $20. For full-flavoured certified-organic chicken, that's not bad. I believe their chickens come from Field Gate Organics www.fieldgateorganics.ca

                I'm one of those people who believes that quality and flavour trump quantity and price. I'd rather spend more money on something that tastes great, and possibly have it less often, than pay less for crap.

                1. re: Tatai
                  chef_vegabond Mar 6, 2009 06:13 AM

                  I'm of the same thought, also I'd rather buy cheaper cuts of meats at organic butchers. I paid almost $30 for a chicken at the HB but it was a very big bird.
                  Sounds like the author of this thread got a raw deal here, I would of brought them back but then again you've just sat down to eat, it's the last thing you want to do. I've always been happy with what I've bought at the HB. I've always bought raw ingredients, a couple of friends have been disappointed with ready made items they've bought. In terms of quality it is the best in my opinion, their meat is very good. As for price, I'm served immediately but pleasant and knowledgeable staff. One time they've bent over backwards when all I was buying was one lamb shank. Not to mention real estate. These are high overhead costs which will show up in their price.

                  1. re: Tatai
                    aser Mar 8, 2009 02:11 PM

                    The supply varies depending on availability. Currently a lot of the chicken is from Fenwood Farms. They do carry a lot of products from Fieldgate though.

                    http://www.fenwoodfarm.com/chicken_or...

              3. re: tjr
                aser Mar 8, 2009 12:25 PM

                What you're paying for at HB is the provenance of its meat. I don't think you can find any butcher in the city that can give you as much info about the origins of their meat as HB.

                They personally visit many of their farmers to see first hand how animals are reared.

                Will most places be cheaper? Of course! Will they be able to give you much info about the birds they're selling? Highly unlikely.

                It's a personal choice, some people are willing to pay a premium for this info, others not.

                1. re: aser
                  t
                  todc1996 Mar 8, 2009 12:31 PM

                  friendly butcher visits the farmers first hand too.
                  his prices are cheaper than healthy butcher.

                  1. re: todc1996
                    t
                    Tatai Mar 8, 2009 12:34 PM

                    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the Friendly Butcher's meats and poultry are organic. A lot of what we're paying for when purchasing organic meats and poultry is the high cost of non-GMO, organic feed that's fed to the animals.

                    1. re: Tatai
                      jayt90 Mar 8, 2009 03:28 PM

                      It is easy to find meat, eggs and seasonal vegetables from small family farms at our many farmers' markets. They will not have the high mark up and fancy surroundings of Healthy Butcher, but the animals will be raised on non GMO feed, no growth hormones, no pesticides, but not certified organic, which is an avoidable expense. There is a lot of information you can get directly from them, or even visit, as I have done. Carefully selected non organic farm products are as good as organic, for my house, at a substantially lower cost.

                      1. re: jayt90
                        t
                        Tatai Mar 8, 2009 04:04 PM

                        I agree with you 100% about shopping at farmers' markets, jayt90, and about getting to know the farmers/farms that raise and grow the provisions we buy and purchasing organically raised (rather than sticking to certified-organic products); but it's been my experience that poultry purchased at farmers' markets can be just as expensive as that purchased from high-end butcher shops.

                        1. re: jayt90
                          aser Mar 8, 2009 04:44 PM

                          I don't know about any substantial savings to be honest w/ farmers markets. The prices are quite similar to high end shops. I've shopped often at Dufferin Grove and the one on 16th & Bathurst. I like to think I am familiar w/ the prices compared with brick & mortar shops.

                          1. re: aser
                            jayt90 Mar 8, 2009 07:09 PM

                            I haven't visited the Healthy Butcher, but I'm astounded by the prices I see on this and similar threads (except for the under $20 bird on sale).
                            When plan a visit, I will probably treat it like a visit to Cumbrae's: call first, and ask them for tender, flavorful front quarter cuts, or shanks. Hopefully those would priced better. But one of our respondents recently got beef cheeks for $6/lb (Cumbrae's, untrimmed) while another quoted Grace at half the price, yet the people at Grace or Gaspari do know the provenance of the cow.

                2. Baelsette Mar 6, 2009 05:40 AM

                  I too have found that the chicken is way over priced! I do love the homemade stilton and pear sausage though..

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Baelsette
                    j
                    jamesm Mar 6, 2009 06:29 AM

                    I find HB to be almost prohibitively expensive. 6 beef short ribs cost me in excess of 40 dollars and 2 small strip loins were just under 40 dollars. The sausages are reasonably priced though.

                    1. re: jamesm
                      c
                      CoffeeAddict416 Mar 6, 2009 07:11 AM

                      The sausages are reasonably priced but I found them to be incredibly salty! Or at least the batch I had. I had sausages that were way better from Gaucho at SLM north. I would love to give HB more chances because I do like knowing the provenance of my meat but it's dissapointing more often than not even taking into account grass-fed vs corn-fed marbling etc.

                      I still support what they do though!

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                    Abbeshay Mar 8, 2009 04:11 PM

                    Looking at the other posts, which seem hopeful about this establishment, I'm sad to report that my experience there was unhappy. I purchased 4 chicken breasts there last summer when they first opened on Eglinton. They were huge, "Pam Anderson" chicken breasts, which goes against my mother's theory that smaller chicken breasts are better (please don't laugh too hard , I think she's right) . Anyway, they cost me approximately $32.00 and, unlike another poster, I did not have the courage to ask the salesperson to put them back. So I lugged them home and promptly froze 3 of them. Now, I've frozen chicken breasts before and never had a bad experience thawing and cooking with them afterwards, but this time after cooking these breasts, I believe I had my first run-in with bad meat. They were inedible. I'll give "The Healthy Butcher" the benefit of the doubt and chalk up this bad experience to some negligence on my part concerning maybe the thawing out or cooking but one bad experience is enough for me and I'd be very cautious about buying meat there again, especially when there are very excellent alternatives, such as Whole Foods, Pusateri's and Cumbrae's close by.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Abbeshay
                      dxs Mar 8, 2009 04:54 PM

                      Just out of curiousity... how was the 1 breast that you didn't freeze then thaw? Did you notice anything 'off' about the taste/texture?

                      1. re: dxs
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                        Abbeshay Mar 9, 2009 09:20 AM

                        Well, this chicken breast, I believe I cooked that night, it was so big that I didn't need the others for the dish. I think I smelled something slightly unusual after unwrapping it from the paper, but not like bad meat smell, just slightly different from anything I've ever bought (supermarket chicken included). I guess it was okay, because I didn't have any adverse reaction after eating it. Texture wise, I think it was alright , as well. I don't want to give this establishment any unwarranted bad publicity, the problem could have been with something I did. I think that I bought this meat just in the nick of time before freezing it and the length that it stayed frozen (although not especially long) pushed it's safe eating timeline over the edge. One bad experience and an empty pocketbook has soured me away from The Healthy Butcher.

                        1. re: Abbeshay
                          dxs Mar 9, 2009 09:54 AM

                          Sorry to hear that your experience put you off totally. I've been a happy customer of HB on Queen for a few years (although I usually stick to lower priced cuts and the occasional special purchase - I bought some elk not too long ago that was wonderful).

                          Knowing how much pride they take in their product I'm sure they would have liked to hear your concerns, although I know it's difficult to go back to a store and bring issues like this up after you've already disposed of all the evidence :). It's like the restaurant dilemna, where you keep taking bites of something to confirm that it really is inedible, only to realise it's almost all gone!

                          1. re: dxs
                            y
                            Yongeman Mar 9, 2009 12:41 PM

                            I've just started purchasing meat from the HB on Eglinton. I usually use either Beretta frozen ground beef (which I purchase through a co-op) or ground beef from The Butcher on Yonge. I really like that the two times I've gone to the HB, they have had to grind the meat freshly for me. It's $5.49/lb. for Lean Gr. Beef. Can't really afford the other products, because I'm usually cooking for 6 to 8 people.

                    2. p
                      pizzatheorem Mar 9, 2009 01:41 PM

                      A side note on good quality chicken: organic, free range, etc... aside, where can I find the best tasting chicken in Toronto? This recalls to mind an episode of "In Search Of Perfection" where Heston Blumenthal finds some great birds in France (with heads) but pays dearly for them. I think it was the roast chicken episode.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: pizzatheorem
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                        CoffeeAddict416 Mar 9, 2009 01:46 PM

                        yes these are Bresse chickens
                        if you search for a thread on blue footed chickens you'll see me discussing them there :)
                        I have yet to find that chicken breed here in Toronto though =( Even more hurtful is i drove right past the town of Bresse without even knowing it back in October!!!

                        1. re: CoffeeAddict416
                          p
                          pizzatheorem Mar 9, 2009 01:59 PM

                          Ah, thank you! Evidently they are not available here :( What's the next best thing?

                          BTW, Sashimi chicken? WTF?

                          1. re: pizzatheorem
                            t
                            tjr Mar 9, 2009 08:11 PM

                            Poulet de Bresse is something you shouldn't expect to get here. Asian supermarkets sell a lot of chickens with heads (and everything else attached), though I wouldn't suggest eating them sashimi-style, if this is what you're looking for.

                            I've found the chicken at HB to be very good, but probably too expensive to bother on a regular basis.

                            1. re: tjr
                              p
                              pizzatheorem Mar 9, 2009 08:22 PM

                              Hmm, heads are definitely not a requisite. Not looking for sashimi grade chicken either, if such a weird thing exists. Just want some tasty chicken. Does anyone know where to find the tastiest chicken is my question.

                              1. re: pizzatheorem
                                aser Mar 9, 2009 08:29 PM

                                yes such a thing exist, obviously this is not done w/ a commercially raised factory chicken. So you know, "sashimi grade" is just a marketing term, there is no regulation for its usage.

                                It's available at Yakitori Totto in nyc. I've actually had it at a yakitori joint in Shanghai.

                                Yes I know, eating raw chicken in China, you would think I'm crazy. Nothing happened to me though.

                                http://www.flickr.com/photos/aser/419...

                                1. re: aser
                                  p
                                  pizzatheorem Mar 9, 2009 08:43 PM

                                  Yeah, I get your point about sashimi grade. I was almost joking, but wow. You ate that, huh? How was it?

                                  1. re: pizzatheorem
                                    t
                                    tjr Mar 9, 2009 11:30 PM

                                    While I'm not sure about eating raw chicken in China, I've had it numerous times in Japan, and in France poulet de Bresse is definitely not going to be overcooked.

                                    Here is another story, though. I don't think I'd eat any chicken here raw. Blushing, sure...

                                    1. re: tjr
                                      c
                                      CoffeeAddict416 Mar 10, 2009 07:43 AM

                                      I don't trust the chicken industry here either for raw chicken. I don't think any chicken here is prepared to a standard that can be eaten raw. I think that's mostly because it's not in our culture to eat raw chicken.

                                      I would do it if the animal was killed and butchered right before my eyes by a chef/person i trust but other than that....

                                      Back to the topic of tasty chicken I would totally recommend cumbrae's chicken as an easy source of tasty chicken. There's multiple vendors at st. lawrence market that sell tasty mennonite chicken as well. You can also get "mature" chicken from T&T. I have no idea how "mature" that chicken is but it is definitely more flavourful than regular chicken. It is tougher meat though. It's fantastic for making soup/stock.

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