Echo and Rig Butcher and Steakhouse is not Las Vegas's only butchery, but it is the first of its kind. Located a short 15-minute drive west of the glitz and glamour (and more traditional steakhouses) of the Strip, Echo and Rig is proof that you can have your steak, and have it cooked for you, too.
Sam Marvin, founder of the Los Angeles hotspot Bottega Louie, felt that Las Vegas was missing the long-lost art of butchery. "The butcher shop of late was one where the butcher knew your name and you knew his," Marvin says. "We're here to educate people about their meat selections, so they know what to do before they cook it."' While the artisanal butchery is a concept that's been gaining in popularity throughout the country, it's still relatively new to Vegas.
Classic cuts like filet mignon aren't going out of style anytime soon, but the butchers at E&R are introducing customers to some lesser-known cuts as well. Take the bavette, also known as a flap steak or bib steak. This cut comes from the hindquarter of the cow, underneath the sirloin. In the U.S., the meat is often sold to restaurants or at the butcher's counter as "mock hanger" or "flap meat." It's particularly popular in New England, where it's cut into strips and sold as "sirloin tip," while in France, it's used in steak frites, and in Spain, it's griddled over high heat and served with a Coke.
Okay, so the name's not so sexy, but because this cut comes from muscle that is active (unlike, say, a filet, which is mostly motionless), it has a full, beefy flavor. It can be tough if not prepared properly, but treat it right—sear it quickly over very high heat, flip it often, and slice thinly against the grain—and it gets a melt-in-your-mouth buttery texture. Kenji unabashedly calls it "one of best inexpensive steaks for the grill, ever."
Echo and Rig sources their meat from a small network of farmers and ranchers in California, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado who raise their animals without antibiotics or hormones, and eat grass that's not treated with pesticides or herbicides. The focus is on quality and sustainability, and it's an educational process the butchers feel is important enough to share with their customers.
To that end, the shop hosts monthly hands-on butchery demos, and butchers will happily chat with customers about the best way to prepare their purchases. Passing through Vegas right before the holidays, I stopped in to browse around the floor-to-ceiling showcase windows. Upon finding out I wasn't local and would need to keep my order in the freezer for a week or two, the crew was kind enough to freshly cut and Cryovac my meat for me—talk about customer service.
The final component of the E&R experience is the steakhouse, which replaces the traditional steakhouse aesthetic (dark rooms, fancy waiters, comically oversized cuts) with one that's light and airy, complete with an open kitchen. And since the steakhouse and the shop are connected, the chef (and you!) can request specific cuts of meat directly from the butchers downstairs. So if your bavette steak in the restaurant was phenomenal, you can pick one up in the butchery on your way out and relive the magic at home.
About the author: Heidi Roth is a southwestern-based food blogger and photographer who travels extensively and enjoys sharing her passion for all things food. She chronicles her food adventures on her blog at foodnwhine.com.