First Look: Gourmeats, a new family-run butcher shop in the Junction


The Junction's newest butcher shop (Images: Caroline Aksich)

If you peer through the front window of the Junction’s newest butcher shop, Gourmeats, you’ll see barn beam table with three stools. No, this little nook isn’t for munching on your prepared foods (they aren’t making any, at least not yet) — it’s the meal-planning table.

Kenyan-born co-owner Alam Suleman encourages customers to sit down and gander at the blackboard, which is decked out with meal ideas. The shop specializes in marinated meats for at-home cooking. There are sixteen house-made marinades on offer — detailed in thick white script — in flavours like Ghaarrlic, Gingerbeer Jerk, Mshkaki Masala and Can-Asian. Patrons choose their proteins and their complimentary marinade, then Suleman vac-packs the meat, which extends the protein’s fridge life.

While there are currently no plans to sell the marinades, they are selling their house-made habanero hot sauce, known as Hotter than H. And yes, you can opt to have your meat slathered in the tongue-tingling stuff if you’re so inclined.

Everything is locally sourced, and it’s all antibiotic- and hormone-free. (The beef is also grass fed.) Currently they’re sourcing their chicken from a Mennonite farm in Waterloo; the pork and lamb are from Camden and the beef is sourced from Ayr. The only thing that’s not from Ontario is the salmon, which is flown in from Vancouver.

They’ve decided to swap out a deli counter for a fish counter, which will soon be filled with local goodies like trout and pickerel. Suleman is also looking into sourcing more exotic proteins like bison.

Back in Kenya, Suleman sold meat wholesale, and now he’s living his dream here.

“My wife and I would throw dinner parties and everyone would tell us, ‘You have to open a restaurant,’” says Suleman. But he wasn’t romanced by the industry lifestyle (long hours, working on holidays), so opening a butcher shop seemed like the perfect compromise.

You’ll notice that the cases aren’t lined with many pre-cut portions. That’s because Suleman likes to cut things to spec. Butchering to order keeps the meat fresher and gives customers the ability to customize their chops, shanks and tenderloins. On a budget? Grab a half-inch steak. Celebrating a bonus? Grab some two-inch T-bones that a caveman would be envious of.

Gourmeats, 2946 Dundas St. W., 416-824-8848

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