Feature

Critics’ choice: Destination dining for carnivores

Belcampo Meat Co.; Old Major; Ox

Belcampo Meat Co. Larkspur, Calif.Welcome to “the utopian ideal of a butcher shop/restaurant,” said Anna Roth in SF Weekly. Open since November, Marin County’s Belcampo Meat Co. represents, for now, the main public face of one woman’s ambitious foray into humane and sustainable meat production. Thanks to the efforts of chief executive Anya Fernald, every cut of meat featured on the blackboard menus here began life on Belcampo’s 10,000-acre organic farm before passing through a Belcampo slaughter facility designed to ensure that the livestock and poultry don’t spend their final moments in pain or terror. Not surprisingly, eating meat at Belcampo is “a singularly pleasurable experience”: Brunch’s braised beef-cheek hash and lunchtime’s succulent French dip “remind you how beef is supposed to taste: wild, gamey, interesting.” The tender meat in a turkey fricassee delivers so much flavor that “you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for pork.” After a meal, you’ll definitely want to step to the butcher’s counter to bring a few cuts home. By year’s end, you might even be able to find Belcampo outlets in Palo Alto and Los Angeles. “The world will be a better place for it.” 2405 Larkspur Landing Cir., (415) 448-5810

Old Major DenverChef Justin Brunson “worships at the altar of the swine,” said William Porter in The Denver Post. At Brunson’s terrific new restaurant, which takes its name from the avuncular pig in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, bacon shows up even as a wrap on the rabbit loin. But this “carnivore emporium” runs on plenty of other passions too, many of them expressed in dishes so generous they seem “designed to feed hulking Iowa farmhands.” Order the whole spring chicken and the bird comes with three vegetables plus a side of fingerling potatoes roasted in duck fat. A creamed ham spread, called pork butter, “lacked pop,” but such disappointments are few. The joint’s “star dish,” the nose-to-tail plate, represents a “serious piece of pig worship.” Loaded with pork rib, belly, a chop, ham, and “a crispy ear slivered into matchsticks,” it is, to borrow a Southern phrase, so delicious it’ll “make your tongue slap your mama.” 3316 Tejon St., (720) 420-0622

Ox Portland, Ore.It takes a singular combination of “boeuf, brains, and bravado” to conjure the next incarnation of the American steak house, said Karen Brooks in Portland Monthly. “Daredevil” chef Greg Denton has done it in Portland, packing his friendly storefront space each night with diners lured by the “haute sorcery” he works on his custom-built Argentine grill. A typical meal at Ox “moves easily from audacity to primitivism to elegance: One minute you’re engulfed in the euphoria of a smoked beef tongue salad, plucking up paper-thin shingles of delicate meat.” A few bites later, you’re looking at “a Neanderthal dream”—slabs of steak “charred to perfection over a fire hot enough to blow glass.” Among starters, the clam chowder with smoked marrow and chiles is so good it’ll make you see chakra colors. Avoid the empanadas, which are “surprisingly blank.” But if torn between the skirt steak and the “excruciatingly tender” pork chop, order both. “This is food as medical marijuana.” 2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., (503) 284-3366

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