Words & Photography Kirk Truman
Boxcar has made quite a name for itself in London’s Marylebone area, where owner and founder Barry Hirst has created two collaborative sites which complement one other perfectly: a butcher and grill at New Quebec Street, and a baker and deli at Wyndham Place.
Boxcar is very much a local business, and one that places a strong emphasis on sustainability, honesty and simplicity. All Boxcar’s products and ingredients are carefully selected and ethically sourced, celebrating the best of British produce.
So launched a butchers with an in-house restaurant. Boxcar’s first iteration was born in the heart of Marylebone, nestling among the local cafes, restaurants and bars. Once a historical centre of Bohemian life, Marylebone was in more recent years a bit of a West-End secret. But now, this once-forgotten neighbourhood has leapt back into life with a growing reputation for bringing some new blood to the central London scene. Today, Marylebone – and Portman village – has emerged as a thriving residential and commercial district. Home to a diverse mix of artists and writers, it has emerged as a new creative village – and the perfect home for Boxcar.
In the renowned Portman Village, on New Quebec Street, Boxcar Butcher & Grill has become a local fixture, as well as a dining room for the surrounding area. On entering, you find fridges of meat lining the walls, full of rare breed beef, pork and lamb from Mount Grace Farm in Yorkshire. You may feel as if you’ve walked into a butcher’s shop, but then you discover that it is perfectly complemented by a restaurant area. All of the meat at Boxcar is a premium selection of ethically sourced produce from British farms that share the restaurant’s ethos of proper animal welfare, and it’s available to pre-order for collection.
The butcher’s shop is what powers the restaurant’s menu and daily food offerings. Impressively, all the produce is independently sourced, with a regular dialogue kept up with every farmer & producer to ensure quality, provenance and a fair price for all British producers. Butcher & grill is open every day for fresh pastries, lunch, dinner, Saturday brunch and Sunday roasts, such as succulent roast pork with crackling or whole roast chicken to share. The menu celebrates the best of British meat while remaining vegetarian-friendly with light and seasonal dishes to suit. Menu highlights include superbly grilled Galloway steaks, signature burgers (beef and veggie) and homemade pies, which can be enjoyed alongside a wide-ranging list of local craft beer, artisan wines and seasonal cocktails. Downstairs is a private dining room, The Salt Room, which overlooks the kitchen and can be privately booked for a drinks and canapés reception or a three-course feast. It can accommodate groups of up to 18 seated or 25 standing – perfect for Christmas parties.
Building on the success of New Quebec Street, the decision was made to open a second iteration of Boxcar with a difference. At the corner of Wyndham Place, in the shadow of the sandstone St. Mary’s Church, lies the latest Boxcar site to offer a stylish communal setting – Boxcar Baker & Deli. This is where baker meets deli, leaving behind the butcher element, swapped for an on-site bakery.
Having opened in the summer of 2018, the second Boxcar site is open daily for breakfast, lunch and after work nibbles, with the option to eat in or stock up on home essentials. The on-site bakery drives the daily offerings, with classic and innovative pastries, breads, cakes, and savoury baked goods available to eat in or take away. Come lunchtime, the counter is laden with seasonal salads and sandwiches showcasing the best of British seasonal produce. At the weekend, visitors can enjoy brunch dishes such as the Swedish Breakfast and Fenton Eggs Florentine with a glass of Buck’s Fizz or a Boxcar Bloody Mary. Like its sister site, Boxcar Baker & Deli is a local hub for the community, serving up familiar dishes with a signature Boxcar twist. And in the evening, this is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a glass of wine or craft beer until 7pm.
The two Boxcar sites in Marylebone are just a short walk from each other in Marylebone, and both share the same ethical values and passion for showcasing the best of British seasonal produce. Both have become firm neighbourhood favourites, providing a thriving dining table for the neighbourhood and a shop where you can buy homemade goods, locally sourced groceries, top quality meat, pastries and wine.