This past summer, Belcampo Meat Co. opened at Suite 161 at Town and Country Village. A good way to sum this restaurant up would be Belcampo: part butchery, part restaurant, all meat.
Founded in 2012, Belcampo prides itself on its organic, high-quality meat. It may be a good butchery, but as a restaurant, Belcampo still needs to find its feet.
All of Belcampo’s meat is locally sourced from farms located at the base of Mount Shasta. The meat is organic and pasture-raised, and the quality comes through in the taste. However, this leads the chefs to rely too much on the meat alone to provide enough flavor for the rest of the dish.
A prime —pun intended—example of this over reliance on the quality of meat is the Braised Lamb Belly Bun, which is priced at $5.00. The lamb belly bun consists of a slice of lamb meat, arugula and feta cheese on a brioche bun. The slider as a whole is fairly odorless with the only real smell coming from the toasted bun. The feta and arugula seems to be a nice idea, but, unfortunately, the feta overpowers what would otherwise be quite a welcome addition with the arugula.
The lamb itself is an utterly exquisite cut of meat, cooked to perfection, albeit poorly spiced, almost to the point of blandness.
The lamb bun is a fairly good reflection of Belcampo as a whole: Wonderful produce with incredible potential and interesting ideas, but still failing to impress. The restaurant’s head chef may just need a little more time to fully develop all of his dishes to their full potential.
The Pulled Pork Bun, priced at $5.00, is a good indication of that potential. This dish consists of pulled pork with red cabbage coleslaw on a brioche bun. The red cabbage coleslaw and pulled pork pairing is a stroke of genius. This bun looks spectacular upon being served, with the golden brioche, the earthy pork and the vibrant coleslaw combining to form a brilliant medley of colors.
The freshness of the slaw together with the smoky flavors of the pork is a wonderful mixture. All those flavors combine with the delightful airiness of the bun to engage the sensorium in a creative cacophony of sights, smells and textures. In other words, it was fairly tasty.
If the Pulled Pork Bun is sublime, then the Barbeque Chicken Bun, priced at $5.00, is atrocious. The chicken bun consists of a pulled chicken and barbeque sauce combination inside a brioche bun. The quality of the chicken is rubbery at best. The barbeque sauce itself is overly sweet, while the sparse smattering of lettuce proves a sorry excuse for a salad topping. Although the brioche roll works well with the Pulled Pork Bun, here it is overpowered by the toughness of the chicken and the strength of the barbeque sauce. The choice of brioche for the bun produces a texture that did not in any way provide a good compliment to the chicken and sauce.
Much like the Braised Lamb Belly, the small Chili, priced at $5.00, has all the spice of a Fresno mayoral election. The chilli is made with beef, pork and Rancho Gordo pinquito beans. There is once again a heavy overreliance on the quality of the beef and not enough zest.
The presentation, however, is superb. The cheese crusting to a beautiful golden brown with a scattering of spring onions on top, which contrasts nicely with the dark red chilli.
Although the other dishes are pretty much either a hit or a miss, the best dish on the menu by far is the Meatball Sandwich, priced at $11.50. The sandwich is made with beef and pork meatballs and tomato sauce on a brioche loaf. As soon as the paper is unwrapped, the sandwich-eater is immediately hit by the beautiful kaleidoscope of colors: the vibrant red tomato sauce, the dark brown meatballs and the golden brioche bread. The basil comes through as the strongest smell, already a good sign of things to come.
The sandwich itself is a fantastic blend of tomato, pork and beef, with the basil and cheese as a nice touch. This is all encased in a crispy brioche bun that manages to both soak up the juices of the meatballs and not fall apart at the same time. In many ways, the Meatball Sandwich is not a conventional one, mainly in the fact that half the filling is not left on the plate once the meal is finished.
The restaurant itself seems a little cold, with whitewashed walls and one sign outside saying “Belcampo Meat Co..” It all feels kind of like the all-powerful company in some anti-corporate film.
The same complaint, however, could not be made of the staff there, who were friendly and warm upon entering. The service was incredibly fast. It took just eight minutes to make what was an ostensibly large order.
Although aesthetically pleasing, the cardboard boxes in which the food is served are fairly flimsy and cumbersome—a handle or metal tray would help.
One last complaint would be the absence of any vegetarian options whatsoever. Although, if a non-meat eater wants to have a good meal, I doubt a restaurant that takes pride in being a butchery would be the best place to look.
Ultimately, if you know what to order, Belcampo is a nice place to go for lunch. Although the menu can be inconsistent, the produce is top-drawer, and I’m sure those working at Belcampo will perfect their dishes soon enough.