London's Greatest Shops # 1: The Butcher

A cut above the rest, Allens of Mayfair have been serving top-quality meat to both loyal neighbours and Michelin-starrred restaurants alike since 1830

Situated opposite The Connaught Hotel, Allens’ premises occupies a prime site in Mayfair.

“We were founded in 1830, which makes us the oldest butchers in the capital,” manager Michael Gale says. “It’s a Grade II-listed building: all of the tiling, the floor and so forth. We can’t change it, but why would we want to? It’s so unique.”

One of Allens’ key features is its octagonal butcher’s block, which stands in the centre of the room. Their previous block was purchased by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and is now installed in his castle in Scotland.

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“That one lasted 44 years,” Gale says. “This one’s 22, so you could say it’s middle aged.”

The butchers is also one of London’s largest game dealers, to the point where Allens now supplies some traders in Smithfield Market, as opposed to buying from them.

“The first day of grouse season is 12 August,” Gale says, “and we’ll drive back into London at 70mph that night. We’ve got customers in town waiting, knife and fork in hand, for those birds.”

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That level of service requires 25 full-time staff. “That’s quite a large employer, certainly for Mount Street,” Gale says. “We’re quite central to the Mayfair community; we like to get involved in all the events. We’ve got the regulars who live next door and pop in every day.

We’ve got plenty of celebrity clients, such as Michael Caine and Nigella Lawson. Joan Collins comes in: I did Celebrity Deal or No Deal with her last year. She likes the free-range chicken stuffed with sausage meat.” Of course she does.

117 Mount Street, W1K 3LA allensofmayfair.co.uk

Taken from Esquire's Big Black Book: The Style Manual For Successful Men. Photograph by Christoffer Rudquist