The best sandwich you’ll ever have might just come out of a butcher shop.
Two months have passed since Peter Sanagan moved into his 5,000-square-foot Kensington Market butcher shop, a big upgrade from the closet-sized space that Sanagan’s Meat Locker operated out of for almost three years. Sanagan, who’s 35, is not an ordinary butcher, having spent 15 years working in Toronto restaurant kitchens at Auberge du Pommier and Mistura. And his new store offers more than just locally raised beef, pork, and chicken. “The original intention was to get the butchery to a level I’ve seen in London and Paris,” he says. “In London, they also have cooked meats, like sausage rolls and pies. In France, they have terrines, charcuterie, and pâtés. I couldn’t do that before. To have all of that here in one space is what I always wanted to do.”
This spring, when European Meats vacated its Baldwin Street shop after more than 50 years in business, Sanagan moved in. He hasn’t changed the space too much—it’s still laboratory white with stainless-steel counters. There are now shelves at the entrance stocked with Toronto-made Kozlik’s mustards, fresh Dough by Rachelle donuts (maple-bacon is a fitting hit), and breads from King West’s Blackbird Baking Co. One of the additions that’s drawing new customers are Sanagan’s sandwiches—they’re made for takeout but you can devour them while standing at one of three countertops.
It’s a small menu that runs from lunchtime to closing but everything on it is delicious. There’s tender roast beef with horseradish aioli, juicy roast chicken, and a messy Bo Ssammy. The latter is a play on Korean bo ssäm, a pork shoulder that’s brined salt and sugar before being slow-cooked. Traditionally, it’s served with lettuce-leaf wraps, but Sanagan’s comes extra moist (thanks to a Korean-style fermented-bean paste) and on a soft white bun from neighbouring Cobs bakery. It’s topped with a cabbage-carrot-cucumber-kimchi slaw, and finished with a green-onion mayonnaise. Along with the sandwiches, there’s a daily homemade soup, like sweet tomato with crispy chickpeas, and some of the best fries in the city. “People go nuts for them because a lot of stalls just use frozen ones,” says Sanagan. They come straight from the fryer, piping hot and sprinkled with chives and a bit of coarse salt.
Cured meats are also on offer, including a few made by Enoteca Sociale chef Grant van Gameren, who’s using the shop as a testing ground for a new salumi business. Van Gameren’s lonza (Italian cured pork loin) is a light-tasting choice, ideal for the makings of a salumi platter.
It’s not quite Sanagan’s dream shop yet. He’s still working on the little details, like putting up vinyl lettering on the front windows. “The shop can always get better and we can always reach out to more people,” he says. But he did manage to get those British-style meat pies on the menu, like oxtail and pumpkin ($10 for small, $25 for large), which are, of course, made in-house.
176 Baldwin St., 416-593-9747, sanagansmeatlocker.com.