Can you eat 2.5 pounds of luscious, superb prime tomahawk steak, dressed with just a couple of flecks of sea salt, in 29 minutes? That's what I did recently at the Butchery's newest location in Newport Coast, all for an OC Weekly video. I ate three-quarters of it in 10 minutes, then I slowed down dramatically over the next 19 minutes. By the time the last, tiny morsel went down my gullet, much to the delight of the few onlookers who watched with morbid curiosity, I was—to quote Ned Flanders—more animal than man.
But before I became a glutton, I made sure to tell co-owner Robert Hagopian I was a fan of his stores in Brea and Costa Mesa. I've long been impressed by the range and qualities of the Butchery's meat beyond the gleaming display cases and the ritual of putting knife on bone. The beef ranges from grass-fed to grain-finished and is almost impossibly marbled, so judiciously placed the fat is on all cuts. Chickens are California Jidoris; the al pastor and carne asadas are marinated as if the company employs primos who learned their skills during Montebello weekends. Elk, buffalo and other game meats are old hat here—why, the other day in the store's freezer, I saw both a goose and a capon.
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Throw in a carefully curated selection of cheeses, wines and beers (a lot of Bruery and Left Coast offerings), and the Butchery is everything a small, local chain should be.
But back to my mighty feat: The Butchery only serves sandwiches because it doesn't have a full kitchen, so the kind people at Williams-Sonoma cooked the tomahawk according to Hagopian's specifications. I made sure to savor the first bite: medium-rare, a perfect sear on the outside, the marbling creating a resurrective bite. I had suffered from food poisoning for the prior two days, unable to keep anything down, but that tomahawk brought me back to life, cured my gut, made me live again. And best of all? By that evening, I was ready for another. Now go watch the video!
The Butchery, 8058 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Newport Coast, (949) 715-3383; also at 103 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 548-6328; and 415 S. Associated Rd., Brea, (714) 529-6328; www.butcherymeats.com.