Finding proper meat in Sofia is a problem, particularly if you crave good beef, as the beef meat culture is yet to develop in Bulgaria.
For four years now, however, in the centre of the city has been working a place that has dedicated itself to bringing excellent beef, including aged steaks, minces and other meat products.
The brainchild of family Meral and Farouk Luleci, Butcher is a cosy place, where you will also find excellent lamb, pork and chicken. Every morsel of meat at Butcher is fresh and prepared on the spot, from the steaks that age for 20-plus days to the selection of meatballs and sausages. Meral Luleci tells more.
How did you start Butcher?
We began with the beef. We have relatives near Haskovo who have farm for calves, and we started from there. It was not easy, as I am an architect and my husband is a philosopher. We had to train to cut meat and to run a completely new kind of business, which is very regulated and has its own particularities. The fact that we started with beef, and Bulgaria still lacks a culture of proper beef, was another impediment. People thought that it was crazy for us to open a specialised shop for beef only. Yet with time, perseverance and mistakes, clients started to come and learnt our name. Then we started to diversify. First we added lamb. And several months ago we rented another shop, where we now sell pork and chicken. Now plenty of customers trust our products.
What makes Butcher different?
We cut all the meat we receive in our premises. Almost all of out staff is professionally trained to cut meat, meaning that even if a client comes and there is not a particular type of meat in the window, our vendors can cut the desired piece of meat on the spot.
We buy animals only from farmers who have proved the quality of their stock. Particularly with beef. We know when which of the calves we sell was born, what did it eat, how healthy it was. We know that it was treated humanely.
We are a small company, meaning that we sell small amounts and that all of our products are always fresh. Quality is what matters to us the most. We don't use preservatives and colourings in our products.
Another thing is the atmosphere. We wanted to create a place that feels cosier than an ordinary butchery, a place where the client feels comfortable.
Who are Butcher's clients?
Mostly foreigners living in Bulgaria, or Bulgarians who have lived abroad and who know good beef. However, when we opened the second shop, we saw interest from another group of customers, including ordinary folk from the neighbourhood. In the weekdays most of our clients come for our meatballs and burgers, as they are an easy, quick and tasty solution for a dinner. Friday and Saturday is when people get more serious and buy steaks.
What is your favourite product at Butcher?
The Sazdarma! It is made of our meat, after our recipe, without any preservatives, additives, substitutes. Only meat, black pepper, bay leaf, and salt – nothing more. It is absolutely delicious. At the beginning, the clients were sceptical, but they gradually fell in love with our Sazdarma. It is now one of our bestsellers. I would also recommend our meatballs. We mince the meat several times, and the result is fabulous, tender meatballs.
Sofia, 27 Gurko St
+359 89 232 26 42