12 of the best Dorset butchers
PUBLISHED: 15:59 18 March 2016 | UPDATED: 16:06 18 March 2016
From hidden gems to award-winners, Sue Quinn seeks out some of the county’s finest meat masters who are passionate about animal welfare, quality and service
R J Balson & Son
Probably the world’s oldest butcher - the Balsons have been plying their trade in Bridport since 1515 - the 26th generation now runs this lovely shop, which prides itself on selling very fine meat indeed. Longstanding relationships with local farmers are at the core of their outstanding range, which includes some of the best UK meat that money can buy: local Axminster beef and lamb, free range Childhay Manor pork and free range Creedy Carver chicken. There’s also local veal, venison, turkey, pheasant, pigeon, partridge, guinea fowl, rabbit and hare. Other goodies include their famous pork sausages and faggots made to closely guarded family recipes handed down through many many generations.
9 West Allington Bridport, DT6 5BJ; 01308 422638; rjbalson.co.uk
Husband and wife team Alex and Lou Webb run this award-winning butchers in the lovely village of West Moore near Bournemouth. Finalists in the 2014 Dorset Magazine Food, Drink and Farming Awards, they source all their meat from Dorset or the West Country and are loved by locals as much for their cheery service and expertise as the excellent meat and goodies they sell. Homemade dry-cured bacon and pancetta are things of beauty; Alex and Lou are among just a handful of butchers throughout the land to smoke their own bacon using traditional techniques. They also boast a swag of awards for sausages, burgers (including rabbit, curried goat and buffalo), and check out Lou’s homemade chutneys and their range of ready meals too. Yum!
165 Station Road, West Moors, BH22 0HT; 01202 855817; webbsbutchers.co.uk
Chris Watson Family Butchers
Winner of Dorset Magazine’s Best Butcher award 2015, Chris Watson has been showered with gongs for butchery excellence, and rightly so. Fans come from far and wide to visit his immaculate shop, and rave about the top quality meat, all sourced from local farms. The service is fabulous; Chris is generous with his knowledge and encourages customers to explore different cuts and recipes. Head for their sensational selection of sausages, which are all made in-house - varieties include the acclaimed “Porker”, as well as South African style Boerewors available in Farmhouse, Piri Piri, Garlic and Cheese flavours. I’m salivating for their Merguez bangers, which also happen to be gluten free.
358 Lymington Road, Highcliffe, Christchurch, BH23 5EY; 01425 273713; chriswatsonfamilybutchers.co.uk
Langton Arms Butchery
Dorset Magazine’s Farming Hero of 2015, James Cossins always goes the extra mile when running his farm at Tarrant Rawston – and this devotion continues in his wife Barbara, who runs the Langton Arms pub and its multi award-winning butchery which sells meat from their farm. The family rear Aberdeen Angus and Herefords which graze for most of the year on the naturally lush and mineral rich grass of the Tarrant Valley. After slaughter, at a nearby local abattoir, the beef is hung on the bone for at least 21 days, then cut by hand to deliver exceptionally tender and full-flavoured meat. Alongside meat from the family farm is locally sourced venison, pork, lamb and game. Collect from the butchery on the farm, or from the Langton Arms pub, call ahead to place your order.
Tarrant Rawston Farm, DT11 8SF; 07796 801525; thelangtonarmsbutchery.co.uk
Wayne Pullen took over this small gem of a butcher shop 10 years ago after serving his butchery apprenticeship there as a lad. His guiding principle is simple: buy only the finest quality local produce and guarantee total customer satisfaction. It is a philosophy that has served him well. Loyal locals adore his range of Ruby Red Devon beef, local free range pork, free range chickens, ducks, and geese, Wiltshire dry-cured bacon (sliced on the premises to order), homemade pies, homemade sausages and home cooked meats including outstanding gammon and ham.
6 High Street, Milborne Port, Sherborne DT9 5AG; 01963 250222
Peter Treble Family Butchers
A highly valued part of the Westbourne community (their annual 12 inch sausage challenge is a hoot!), this award-winning family butcher prides itself on the highest quality meat and good old-fashioned service. From 28-day aged steaks and free-range chicken to French-trimmed ribs of beef and award-winning sausages - step forward the Westbourne Glory! - there really is something for everyone here. Locals – including many restaurants – love the service and staff happily offer suggestions on cuts and recipes.
56 Poole Road, Bournemouth, BH4 9DZ; 01202 763437; petertreble.com
Dorset Farm Butchers
Master butcher Ross Huey knows his chump from his chuck – he’s been in the meat business for more than 50 years. His expertise shows in this spotless traditional farm butchery, which offers a truly fantastic selection. Go for local beef, pork, lamb or chicken, or some drool-worthy homemade bangers including chorizo, lamb and mint, and venison and red wine. If you’re after something more exotic from further afield, you could snap up some crocodile, bison, kangaroo burgers or wild boar.
Vines Close Farm Dorchester Road, Sturminster Marshall, Wimborne, BH21 3RW; 01258 857547; dorsetfarmbutchers.co.uk
Brace of Butchers
This relative newbie on the butchery block makes shopping for meat a total treat. In the two years it’s been running, the shop has scooped local and national awards for being a bit of a foodie heaven offering excellent service and affordable prices. The meat counter stocks over 60 cuts, all sourced very locally – the 5-week-aged beef is something really special. All sausages and faggots are gluten free and reasonably priced, too. There’s not just meat to fill your shopping bag – local cheeses, charcuterie, watercress, baby leaf salads, pies, pastries and coffee make it impossible to leave anything other than weighed down with goodies. It’s all about “respectful and responsible purchasing” the owners say of their philosophy. Huzzah to that!
Kingspoint House, 5 Queen Mother Square, Poundbury DT1 3BW; 01305 260956; braceofbutchers.co.uk
The Udder Farm Shop
Run by farmers Jane and Brian Down, this is a real deal farm shop. Located on the couple’s 190-acre farm, on the edge of Blackmore Vale, the butchery section of this impressive shop sells the farm’s own beef, pork and lamb, as well as other top-notch produce from the local area. Staff have lots of knowledge that they’re happy to share and the ready-prepared cuts make cooking a doddle – I’m thinking yes to their boned, rolled and stuff pork bellies. You can order meat boxes online but better to visit - meat from the farm is also served in the lovely bright on-site café.
Manor Farm, East Stour, Gillingham, SP8 5LQ; 01747 838899; theudderfarmshop.co.uk
Else Family Butchers
This family-run butcher on Stalbridge High Street was runner-up in the 2014 Dorset Magazine Food and Farming Best Butcher award, which is testament to their dedication to quality and customer service. They only source quality local meat and game including lamb from Thornhill Farm, Stalbridge and Wincombe Farm, Donhead St Mary and pork from Yew Tree Farm, East Pennard. Sausages, burgers as well as buffalo wings, pies, quiches, and pasties, which feature in their extensive deli, are homemade.
High Street Stalbridge; 01963 362276; elsefamilybutchers.com
Paul Keating Butchers
It is little wonder that Paul Keating is so widely lauded – he puts much care and attention into the sourcing of his meat, all of which is free range. Beef is pure pedigree Red Ruby Devon sourced from Kingston Lacy and Tivington Red Rubies farm; carcasses are dry-aged in-house for a minimum of four weeks to deliver wondrous texture and flavour. Pork (rare traditional breeds) and lamb are also sourced locally and have a similarly impressive provenance. If the meat itself doesn’t ring your gastronomic bell, go for the homemade pies or other deli items. There’s free delivery to some areas if you can’t make it to the shop, which is situated in the heart of Wimborne.
39 East Street Wimborne, BH21 1DX; 01202 883078; pkeatingbutchers.co.uk
J Mato & Son
This family and catering butcher has been owned by the Mato family for almost 40 years, and the experience shows. From the pristine shop and knowledgeable uniformed staff, to the wide selection of local meat and produce, this is a butcher’s butcher. Simon, the second generation of Mato now running the business, often visits suppliers to ensure that animal welfare meets his high standards.
7 West Street, Blandford Forum DT11 7AW; 01258 452079; jmatoandsonltd.co.uk