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The new Cape Town premises for renowned steakhouse the Butcher Shop & Grill conveys a sense of tradition that is expressed through a contemporary design language

The Butcher Shop & Grill

When The Butcher Shop & Grill, Johannesburg, wanted to bring their long-awaited Cape Town restaurant to life, they looked no further than leading South African interior design firm Inhouse Brand Architects. Tasked with creating a modern restaurant interior that acknowledges The Butcher Shop & Grill’s reputation for excellence and its heritage, Inhouse has successfully realised this steakhouse’s distinctive and rare quality through its own brand of conceptual design. In so doing, the interior design agency has created a new landmark eatery for the Mother City.

By employing exclusive materials and hand-made furnishings – redolent of classic New York and Chicago steakhouses – Inhouse has created a contemporary allusion to a tradition of skilled butchery. Set in a relaxed dining environment, The Butcher Shop & Grill prides itself on continuing the superior quality of a bygone era with its hand-carved meats and signature curing and aging processes, accompanied by a prized winelist. Inhouse’s object was to tap into the core of the steakhouse’s unique culture and weave this narrative into its new Mouille Point locale.

Upon entering, the space unfolds with stippled and stained glass paneling, delicately wrought ironmongery and descriptive wallpaper depicting antique photographs of the lively bustle of a traditional meatpacking district. These photographs are in fact the owners’ own family heirlooms, and depict the Pick family’s longstanding history in the meat industry, dating back to when the family first ran a renowned meat business in Kalk Bay. Mosaic floors and marbled walls beautifully complement the entrance. An idiosyncratic, solid timber coat-rack, studded with butchers blades in place of hooks, hints at the presence of the expert butchers within. This clever messaging lends depth to the space. The butchery and deli lies ahead and to the left, the eatery itself.

The Butcher Shop & Grill’s Restaurant

In the restaurant zone, guests are greeted by a double-volume space that is presided over by the sculptural form of a magnificent life-size Nguni Bull, which takes pride of place above the bar and waiting area. The use of taxidermy is in line with the restaurant’s return to antiquity. It doesn’t stop there. Cast the eye below the bull to a bar cocooned in brass, timber and mottled glass, purveying an array of liquors, whiskeys and fine spirits.

As an ode to the steakhouse’s deliberate move away from homogenized dining, Inhouse has created a series of tailored furnishings that show consistent attention to detail. These include deep-buttoned seating in leather with brass trimmings; custom-made metro tiles glazed in the restaurants colours; and a bespoke, double-storey wine cellar made entirely of steel and glass with protruding boxes – resembling shop windows – that encourages the perusal of the extensive wine collection. Timber is the prominent material used throughout. It adds a layered texture and sense of warmth to the overall space.

A real sense of craftsmanship is captured, and especially so in the design of a cascading chandelier composed of upcycled green wine bottles – a nod to the restaurant’s famed wine collection. Additional lighting takes the form of wire lamps fixed with brass, resembling vintage oil lamps. Elsewhere there are clusters of wire-frame pendant fittings and single high bays. This is all romantically rounded off by a series of sleek, contemporary fireplaces in white marble, lined with smooth white stones and fawn-coloured pebble chips.

The furnishings are a lovely counterpoint to the setting, which boasts beautiful views of the sea and promenade. To capture the natural light and airiness of Mouille Point the design team used deep green sheer curtains that, when opened, reveal the broad seascapes beyond. Similarly, classic white tablecloths add a crispness and nostalgia. The juxtaposition between old and new invites the past elegantly into the present. Through the selection of the finest materials and tailored detailing, Inhouse and the Butcher Shop & Grill have created an interior that will appeal to the aesthetic appetite of gourmands, wine connoisseurs and braaivleis lovers alike, while successfully recounting The Butcher Shop & Grill’s brand essence.

For the restaurant owners, Alan and Dani Pick, it was important to create a modern version of their original and ever popular Johannesburg venue, without losing its “flavour”. Because the new Cape Town premises are smaller than the Johannesburg restaurant, it was important to optimize the available square meterage. An illusion of expanse was created through the design of an ingenious three-tier flooring system that accommodates both seating and essential services. The restaurant seems wonderfully spacious yet is a cleverly engineered arrangement that can cater for the level of popularity experienced by their original outlet.

And the result? The owners are so thrilled with their new Mother City restaurant that they have now commissioned Inhouse to give the same bespoke treatment to the Butcher Shop & Grill in Johannesburg. Watch this space…

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