Joburgers, this is the classiest butchery you'll ever set foot in
Upmarket restaurant Marble adds a butchery selling specialty meats to their menu
Who would ever have expected a butchery to have so much class? Anyone who's ever been to master chef David Higgs's and his partner, businessman and entrepreneur Gary Kyriacou's Marble restaurant, still the darling of the Johannesburg foodie scene - and booked out weeks in advance.
Marble occupies the top floor of the Trumpet Building - trendy hangout of the art set and in crowd, with its galleries, bars and hip shops. The bar at Marble is packed wall to wall with Joburg's biggest posers.
Try to navigate through the whisky- and champagne-swilling masses on a ''First Thursdays" night, the first Thursday in the month when the art galleries launch their exhibitions, and you'll realise just how popular the place has become.
The Butchery by Marble has a wine bar attached, so you can have a glass and check out your fellow meat-lovers while you wait for your prime cut to be packed - which also means it doubles as a great pick-up spot.
At the launch of The Butchery by Marble a few weeks ago, Higgs said: ''I know a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff, but up until now I knew sh*t about meat."
Sipping politely on Mumm champagne and popping little bits of heaven into their mouths, the guests at the opening looked incredulous - Marble (and Higgs) is known for its excellent flesh.
He added: ''I'm 47 years old, and there's always been meat ... no really, there've always been conditions. With this project we didn't have any."
Higgs said his business partner Kyriacou had a no-holds-barred approach, allowing the chef free reign in terms of what he wanted to do with the place.
''It's inspired by Australia's Victor Churchill, which is essentially the jewellery shop of butchers," said Higgs. "The butchery was always part of our plans for Marble, and features some really special cuts - both dry-aged and wet-aged.
We also have speciality offerings, like the cured meats by charcutier Neil Jewell. He's an absolute genius and we want to be able to support him, and others like him, and bring Johannesburg something different."
It's a far cry from the usual butchery - white tiled shops with bloodied, raw meat displayed in a display fridge, and the sounds of chopping and sawing coming from the back.
Here, the marble-topped counters, brass wine racks and blue velvet chairs set around circular occasional tables that accent the shop's interiors were carefully considered by Irene Kyriacou, interior designer and wife of Gary, who has also curated a retail section with a range of handmade plates, glasses, linen, olive-wood handled knives. ''Anything you might need to make your dinner party different and special," she said.
Despite the elegant touches the meat still takes centre stage and is temptingly displayed in shelved fridges that line one side of the shop. It's mouthwateringly mesmerising.
The stars of the show are undoubtedly the butchers themselves, who, dressed in traditional striped aprons, are on hand to help you buy the cuts of meat you love at Marble restaurant and guide you on how to cook them.
• The Butchery is open from 10am to 10pm so you can buy your meat after you've tasted it at Marble. It's located at 19 Keyes Avenue, 1st floor Trumpet Building, Rosebank. Call 010-594-5550.
• This article was originally published in The Times.