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May 21, 2014 07:06 AM

Cumbrae vs Whitehouse Meats

I know a lot of people rave about Cumbrae, but I live in Etobicoke and Whitehouse is closer to me. So my question is - is it worth the drive (and hassle to park on Bayview) to Cumbrae for steaks (rib steaks and beef tenderloin steaks mainly)


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  1. My answer is a practical one. Being able to shop at your neighbourhood store is always the most rewarding. It's satisfying supporting a local vendor who's doing a good job. However, if you have guests whom you feel need to be impressed beyond your local's (already high) standard, then yes make a trip and lay some Cumbrae's on your 'cue.

    1. About 5 years ago I compared charcoal grilled Cumbrae to Whitehouse Meats striploins back to back and as long as the grades of the steak are comparable, I couldn't tell any difference. More controlled pan grilling may be more telling though. At the time they were coincidentally the same price per pound. Times may have changed though.

      I live in downtown and find it's worth the drive (and hassle to go down the Gardiner) to European Quality Meats in Etobicoke for roasts (pork shoulder and beef brisket).

      I'd expect their steaks to be decent.

      1. For me, the 60 day aged bone-in rib from Cumbrae's can't be beat. For all of my day-to-day meat requirements I now go to Butchers of Distinction as they have good quality product and are around the corner from my house. That being said, I trek over to Cumbrae's a few times a year for the one special steak I can't get anywhere else. Worth every penny and time it takes for me to get it - and I use TTC!

        22 Replies
        1. re: JennaBean

          Cumbraes' meat is world class. There are few places that have better.

          1. re: justxpete

            Have you verified that with a blind tasting?

            1. re: Apprentice

              For tenderloin I can't imagine there would be much difference. I have however done tastings of Cumbrae/Whitehouse/Sanagan/Others bone-in dry-aged rib steaks, and Cumbrae's was preferred by the majority of guests.

              That's not to say they're close: they are all good options. When all three were grilled over charcoal to the same temperature (rare), it was unanimous. No one complained about the others, and everyone said they were good as well.

              1. re: yakionigiri

                Ps. just an fyi - Ribeye should be served medium rare. Rare doesn't render the fat enough for this cut to take advantage of the marbling. You'd be eating a lot of raw fat.

                1. re: justxpete

                  I prefer my meat rare, whether there is raw fat or not.

                    1. re: justxpete

                      Optimal is what I like to put into my gullet :-)

              2. re: Apprentice

                It wouldn't do any good. Cumbraes is so much better than most anything you'll find. It's easily distinguishable from others in quality, and also has a distinct flavour. I did do a test with a friend where we compared a cumbraes flank steak to a ribeye from another reportedly renowned butcher. The cumbraes flank steak won.

                1. re: justxpete

                  I've engaged in two separate blind tastings of rib-eyes with purveyors across the city (Bruno's, Oliffe, Pusateri's etc) and I can tell you Cumbraes did not win in either. Cumbrae's had a distinct grassy flavor one tasting and a blue cheese tasting another - how's that consistent? My point was only to have you think about your perceptions (i.e. most people think they like something but in blind tastings discover it's not necessarily the case) but you are so confident in your own opinion I'll leave you to enjoy what you enjoy.

                  1. re: Apprentice

                    I'm comfortable and confident with my opinion(s) and eat more than my share of red meat on a consistent basis in many different locales. Many industry people, and chefs, share the same view. Cumbraes product is definitely world class.

                    Next time you're there, ask for their oldest dry aged ribeye. If it's only 4 weeks or so, ask if you can come back in a few weeks and get something older.

                    As an aside, the "inconsistency" you experienced was due to age of the meat. The grass steak was younger, the blue cheese, older.

                    1. re: justxpete

                      This is a distinct possibility as well. A friend got a bunch of fairly "young" steaks once and wondered why they didn't taste as good as the ones I'd brought before.

                      That and some people don't really like the taste of dry-aged beef, I guess...

                      1. re: yakionigiri

                        No, it's not for everyone, for sure.

                    2. re: Apprentice

                      Interesting. So have I and Cumbrae's has won both, at least in regards to taste and his been in the top two overall. There's variance of course - each steak is not the same - so any given tasting may not be fully representative.

                      Still, it's kind of remarkable that out of the three of us who have done blind tastings (I wonder if any of us were at the same one), Cumbrae has done very, very well. I know that I was actually surprised that my blind opinion met my preconceptions.

                      Given our experience in blind tastings, there seems to be some "objective" (or at least) majority truth that Cumbrae's steaks really are that good. Justxpete's personal opinions seems to lie inline with blind opinion. Of course, your subjective blind opinion might be different, but it does seem that Cumbrae's performs very well in the blind tastings.

                      1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                        OK - to be clear I'm not questioning Cumbrae's quality. I was merely questioning justxpete's assuredness. Personally, I think Cumbrae's is excellent.

                        Not to sound rude but I don't care if the entire world of chefs things Cumbrae's or Restaurant X is the greatest in the world - all I care about is what I like lol. I don't need the validity of others to stand by my opinion. Edit - Not that you all do either

                        1. re: Apprentice

                          But there's no reason to question justxpete's assuredness. He's tried plenty of steaks, has compared Cumbrae's to others and his evaluation comports with the majority of the blind evaluations here.

                          I don't think someone needs to do a blind tasting to figure out if x is better than y.

                          You're entitled to your own opinions, but they're no more valid than his. It's fair to question whether his statement that "Cumbrae's is world class" is accurate, but you shouldn't be surprised when others rise to your challenge - have you done a blind tasting? - and affirm that, in their experience, yes, it is.

                          1. re: Apprentice

                            As you don't eat steak at Kelsey's, it's all good w/ me. :)

                    3. re: Apprentice

                      Oddly enough, I have. Twice. Against the other top toronto purveyors. They're works class.

                      1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                        Ok so a man needs to admit when he's "wrong". Cumbrae's is my fav in the city, bar none. Had a few tastings and there was honestly no comparison. I now have 4 ribsteaks vac'd sitting in my freezer.

                        1. re: Apprentice

                          ... you mean you don't know about the hipster meat purveyor who operates under cover of night and beyond the reaches of the law?

                          In any case, enjoy your beef (regardless of where it's from)!

                          1. re: Apprentice

                            'Atta boy.

                            What tastings did you partake in?

                            1. re: justxpete

                              We took our previous winners (Bruno's and Olliffe) and compared them against Cumbrae's. I made some chimichurri for after the tasting, Cumbrae's was such an overwhelming favorite that one taster said that he refused to "ruin" the steak with any sauce.

                  2. Wonder whether aspirational "boutique meat" hasn't slid solidly onto the "meh" list, especially given the availability of wider GTA price/quality choices than, say, 5 years ago?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Kagemusha

                      I really like White House meats. I work near cumbraes and still get most of my meat at WH. (I live right near them)

                    2. If this helps at all, given the parking hassle, Cumbraes on Bayview now has a "Call ahead and we will bring your meat out to you" program. Just call, order what you want with enough notice, then call when parked out front and they'll bring out your products and a wireless terminal so you can pay.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: hski7

                        They also have a new Queen street location opening soon. Parking will be better than the Church street location.

                        1. re: justxpete

                          That is a fantastic option. I just drove by yesterday but didn't stop for because of the parking - darn wish I knew. Though I do like to talk to the butcher and chose my own steaks.