My Beloved and I were driving over to Marin for Thanksgiving dinner, when we passed the Larkspur Landing shopping center across from the ferry pier. We noted a big orange wall with a giant B painted on it, something new in our path. We wondered what new business had moved in there until we saw in Sunset magazine a whole spread on Belcampo Ranch, a ranch up in Siskiyou County that raises a variety of meats humanely and sustainably. In the article was that same bold B, so we had our first clue.
On another trip across the Richmond Bridge, we decided to stop there and check it out. We thought it would be just a butcher shop, but it turns out they serve breakfast and lunch, too, so we decided to stay for lunch.
The restaurant is very stylish, with clean, hard surfaces and an open kitchen. Light and bright, it features a round window into the meat locker, where you can see the future steaks and chops hanging on the hoof, so to speak, awaiting a hungry customer. The silverware is presented in a bin on the tables, along with rolled up, red-striped cotton napkins large enough to serve as dishtowels. You order at the desk, take a number, and they bring out your items. Even the butcher aprons in this place seem specially designed with a single strap over the shoulder to hold them up.
I have a little advice for you. If you love Brussels sprouts as I do, don't order them in a butcher shop. Fried Brussels sprouts were not, in my opinion, a success. Mea culpa, as I should have known better than to order them in a meat palace.
Having got that out of the way, let me move on to the parts of Belcampo that really were good In addition to the aforementioned and very sad sprouts, I also ordered beef tallow fries. Nothing too special, except that they were cooked much as fries used to be, deep fried in beef tallow rather than vegetable oil. Yes, they were good - but then, fries that are properly fried to a rich golden brown in just about any fat really are good. Simply served in a enameled tin cup with the Belcampo logo and nestled next to a small dish of ketchup and mustard, it was a generous serving - plenty to share with My Beloved - and clearly they were freshly made just for us.
My Beloved ordered their spicy lamb meatballs and those were truly the hit of our lunch. Mildly spicy with a fresh, light tomato sauce and sprinkled with fresh parsley, the four handball-sized meatballs were tender to the fork and very tasty. I'd order them again in a heartbeat.
On our way out, we stopped at the butcher counter to purchase a pound of "steak burger" and a small trip tip steak. We had the burger the following day for dinner and it was, in a word, extraordinary. Made from the trimmings of their various steaks, rather than the usual chuck, the meat was dark maroon with aging and deeply, beefily flavorful. My Beloved actually moaned with pleasure.
We have saved the tri tip for another day, so I'll have to tell you about that another time. In the meantime, if you are over that way, stop on in for breakfast or lunch, and let me know what you think.