Though rich in dining options, San Francisco is not quite as besotted with all things meat as other major American cities. New York has the Spotted Pig and Swine; Los Angeles has Animal and Lazy Ox. But the Bay Area, perhaps still under the thrall of flower children grown gray, has yet to welcome a meat temple of its own. Belcampo Meat Co., a restaurant and butcher shop that opened in November in Larkspur, 30 minutes north of San Francisco, aims to change that.
One half of the large space contains a long, gleaming stainless-steel butcher counter, filled with hunks of bright red meat. The counter flows into a spacious informal restaurant that serves an extremely simple, extremely meaty and deeply satisfying menu.
All the meat in the shop and restaurant comes from Belcampo's 10,000-acre farm a few hours upstate, where the cows graze in the shadow of Mount Shasta, the chickens are slow-growing heritage animals, the pigs forage in wetland and skittish quail are left alone until, obviously, they aren't. They are then trucked 15 miles away to Belcampo's abattoir, a 20,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility designed according to the principles of the activist Temple Grandin, that, as kindly as possible, turns pigs into pork, cows into beef and so forth. "The restaurant is only 10 percent of what we do," said Anya Fernald, the company's chief executive.
As for the menu, the chef, Ross Wollen, focuses on the bounty of the meat locker, which is visible behind the counter. Beef appears, only minimally transformed, as extraordinarily juicy burgers accompanied by Cheddar cheese on a homemade brioche or, at brunch, braised beef hash with a poached egg. The goats, having had their fill of the views, are here, too, in a milk-braised goat shoulder, which feeds four (there's also a goat rack for two on the brunch menu).
Though Ms. Fernald shies away from prime cuts on the menu -- "we can sell them easily in the butcher case," she explained -- there is steak. During a recent visit, a massive rib-eye, aged 21 days, came with a pat of whipped pig lardo.
Some might find eating in sight of a window, in which a pig's head hangs dolefully, off-putting. But "transparency is a key part of what we do," Ms. Fernald said. "The meat locker is my statement to anyone coming in to eat."
Belcampo Meat Co.; 2405 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur, Calif.; (415) 448-5810; belcampomeatco.com. An average meal for two, without drinks or tip, is about $45.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.