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Can a Steakhouse Be Sustainable?

Photo: iStockphoto

Chef Michael Magliano is trying to open the rarest of restaurants: a sustainable steakhouse. So when Bluestem opens this fall, the French Laundry and Craft L.A. alum will be serving meat that’s locally sourced and a menu that moves beyond the traditional flanks, strips, and t-bones.

What makes sourcing beef difficult is opposing notions of sustainability. Local pastures don’t stay green all year round, making beef a seasonal food for true locavores. “We’re looking at some other farms up north in Humboldt County, like Eel River Organic Beef, where they can kill 365 days a year because they have lush green pastures all year long,” Magliano told Grub Street. “With that, they’re getting fairly marbled meat, with the lushness of the grass.”

Other restaurants, such as Il Cane Rosso and the upcoming Bracina, use only pastured meat. And a handful — most notably Incanto — use every part of the animal. Magliano plans to do both, by ordering whole, pre-butchered animals and using the non-steak parts on the restaurant’s brasserie menu.

“It’s my hope we can be creative and make our own pastrami and corned beef, tongue and heart, using the other cuts of the animal so that our menu is a more sound approach to finishing what was started at the ranch,” says the chef. But that still won’t utilize everything, so expect rotating specials like tri-tip, a braised component like beef cheek, beef stroganoff with pickled heart, or roasted bone marrow with ox-tail consume and escargot.

“Still very brasserie,” Magliano contends. And also aligned with sustainability. “It’s just a different feeling I get in working with the product and working with the farmer. It’s a different relationship that’s built than calling up Sysco and ordering in.”

Bluestem Steakhouse Brasserie, 1 Yerba Buena Lane, nr. Market Street, San Francisco

Can a Steakhouse Be Sustainable?