Going through Sutton Cross is much more enjoyable these days, with the pretty sage green frontage of Higgins Family Butchers to distract the eye when waiting at the lights - and the smart little tables of the bakery and café too (a branch of the lovely Il Valentino at the Grand Canal Basin), will tempt you over for a coffee and one of their gorgeous pastries while you think about which treats to take home.
For this is no ordinary butchers shop and, once found, it will soon be a favourite destination. How many butchers have a glass-walled dry-ageing room at the back of the shop, where the full carcasses are hung to mature - and from which your specified order will be cut and expertly butchered by friendly and informative staff as you watch?
Just the place to find those well-aged steaks or the perfect Sunday roast, including delicious pork from pigs in Co Kildare that spend most of their lives out of doors and produce the crunchiest crackling...
Although a new arrival to the cross in 2013, Higgins is well known to locals and many will remember their previous shop at Sutton Cross in the 1980s - and the business actually began in nearby Baldoyle, in 1880.
This beautiful retail operation is a joy to visit, with a display of Il Valentino’s pastries, cakes and irresistible continental breads setting the tone just inside the door.
A long meat counter showcases handsome roasting cuts, poultry and other specialities - smoked and green rashers (dry-cured in-house), pies and ready meals (made locally with their own meat), and an array of delicious daily-made speciality sausages (try the lamb and rosemary), all demonstrating pride in the craftsmanship of butchery.
And it’s not all about their own meat either, smart display cabinets are filled with more foods worth travelling for - Wild Irish Game from Co Wicklow, for example, cheeses by Sheridans Cheesemongers, black puddings from another famous butcher, Kelly’s of Newport, even haggis for that Burns Night dinner, plus unusual condiments, preserves and much more besides. A range of Italian wines is also offered, making this a real one-stop shop.
Higgins also have a great website - very informative, it has loads of information about meat in general (naming the cuts of the various animals, for example) their own meats (all beef, pork, lamb, poultry 100% Irish hand selected from small farms within 80 mile radius, “traceable farm to fork”) and the dry-ageing process - which is normally a minimum of 21 days but can be done to order for as long as 42 days if required.
Well worth a detour.
Unit 3, Portmarnock Shopping Centre,
Tel: +353 (0)1 846359