A year after the fiery debut of Marble restaurant, which became an instant hit on the Johannesburg culinary scene, The Butchery by Marble followed, opening directly underneath it in August. Chef David Higgs, together with his business partner Gary Kyriacou and Gary’s wife Irene of Oniroco design studio, always intended for Marble to have this extra dimension. ‘When this baby was born, we knew we wanted it to include a butchery,’ says Irene, who together with design practice Reddeco is responsible for the interiors of Marble and The Butchery by Marble, too.
Of course, this is no ordinary butchery. Irene envisioned a unique and intriguing space that would heighten the experience of shopping for meat. ‘We wanted to create something that was more of an emporium of meat than just a butchery,’ she says.
Under Higgs’ expert supervision, The Butchery by Marble is run by Andy Robinson, who was the head chef at Marble and before that, at the Saxon hotel’s Five Hundred restaurant. Andy’s beautifully prepared fare is displayed in a wall of adapted wine fridges, specially illuminated to showcase the various cuts of meat, sausages and quail as if they were artworks. The meticulously sourced produce on offer deserves no less. Here you will find cuts of meat that are more specialised and unusual than anywhere else, and you’ll have the chance to chat to Andy and discuss exactly what you’d like and how you should prepare it. The rest of the butchery’s design takes its cue from this principle.
Running along one side of the space in a high-volume, glass-walled extension that’s dappled by the shade of the vegetal screen behind Circa gallery is a 20-seater wine bar. An extra five seats are planned for the atrium outside, and here patrons will be able to sip on wine, Champagne or coffee, or even enjoy a sandwich or charcuterie while their meat is prepared (and wrapped in brown paper and string).
The interior is beyond luxurious. Marble features on tabletops, counters and floors, while prominent ribbed walnut wall panels create attractive curved forms. David Krynauw chairs upholstered in teal velvet surround marble-topped café tables, while woven details on the table legs, designed by Irene, are a nod to the famous macramé screen upstairs and hint at the shapes of horns or antlers. The booths’ cushions are covered in Ralph Lauren suiting fabric and finished with leather piping.
Illustrator Sarita Immelman, who was behind the smoky swirling patterned bar panels at Marble, has also conceived wall tiles for the butchery. Her delicate designs represent strange anthropomorphic creatures strung up a little like cured meats and surrounded by herbs. As well as chiming with the ethos of the Keyes Art Mile in general, the art also works to elevate the produce with a mythological dimension.
A theatrical element is introduced via the glass-walled section at the back of the butchery. ‘The visual aspect of watching the blockmen working adds a further layer of interaction and understanding,’ says Irene. This is also where Andy will run his much-anticipated butchery courses.
The Butchery by Marble also includes a small retail section that features some of the designer wares used in the restaurant, ‘so people can take a bit of Marble home,’ says Irene. It’s stocked with the napkins, aprons and table linen made for the restaurant by African Jacquard, and specially commissioned items by Julia K Ceramics. Turned wooden bowls and imported Saladini knives with olive-wood handles are from the ranges used upstairs, too.
The atmosphere here is a little like a rather sophisticated, almost clubby marketplace, where produce, preparation and tasting all happen together in an invigorating, stimulating swirl. After a visit, it’s hard to see a sausage in quite the same light again.
Visit marble.restaurant for more information.