Allens Butchers - Cumberland
By: Allens Butchers
Apart from the Food Halls found in the large department stores (Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nicolls all sell a good range of sausages) good sausage supplies are hard to find in central London. There are a few options - Borough Market has a wide range on Friday to Saturday, Simply Sausages, Biggles and The Ginger Pig are all well known. In terms of quality Allens is comparable to any of them.
It is tucked away in Mayfair but 5 minutes walk from Selfridges and Oxford Street and is an absolute gem of a traditional butcher. The shop is old fashioned and dominated by a large octagonal butchers block and large pieces of beef which are hanging to mature. The butchers are friendly and extremely knowledgeable. There is a booth in the corner which you visit to settle your account. This always a good sign - the shops which have this arrangement include Lidgates, John Robinson of Stockbridge , and Crombies of Edinburgh . All are top quality (the butchers are always men with women taking the money - such is life!).
The secret to Allens is that it supplies a lot of meat to the catering trade, many well known central London restaurants and hotels are supplied buy it. This allows a butcher with a steady retail trade to stock top quality Scotch beef (all the beef is hung for at least 28 days), rare breed pork, game, top quality French poultry, mutton and English lamb. Not be put off by the trade tag, the butchers are very friendly and keen to talk and will happily break away from preping 50 steaks to serve you 1 pound of sausages and 2 pork chops. There are no gimmicks so there are no ready meals, pies, bbq cuts or sundries. A piece of rib eye steak (around 24 a kilo) was superb, it was marbled throughout with thin streaks of fat (like a Wagyu steak - the fiendishly expensive, beer fed Japanese beef) and was meltingly tender and very tasty.
They usually sell one variety of sausage at a bargain price of 4.30 a kilo. This is roughly the same cost of Tesco Finest or Sainsbury 's Taste The Difference but a different league in taste. The sausages are chunky bangers, there are around 6 to a pound and they are made with quality meat, subtle spices and a touch of rusk. All the family enjoyed them, the fat content is just right with a clean pan, a moist sausage and proper butchers banger taste. One minor quibble is that they are called Cumberland but are sold in links (and not in a proper coil), and as a traditional Cumberland are under peppered and the texture is too smooth. Despite this they are steal and score 9 out of 10 in our scoring system.
No gimmicks, good service very fair prices and superb meat. Highly recommended!