If you’re looking to gnaw on all parts of an animal in San Francisco, Incanto is the place to go.
How can you not love a place where butcher’s tools and cans of lard hang on the walls as art?
These days, nose-to-tail eating is old hat, but chef Chris Cosentino was seen as a culinary pioneer a decade ago when he began serving all parts of the animal — including all the nasty bits — to adventurous San Francisco diners. I’m ashamed to admit that when I dined here many moons ago, I was that squeamish patron who timidly ordered platters upon platters of pasta instead.
I’m so delighted that I was able to return and make up for my past sins.
This time around, we dined with a group of adventurous gourmands with the intent of chowing down on a whole cow leg.
The Whole Leg of Beast dinner is a pre-arranged family-style feast where parties of six to eight meat-lovers descend on platters of antipasto, braised beef shank, salads, marrow, and dessert. Not everything on the pre-set menu is Paleo, but I’m sure you can ask for substitutions if you want to avoid all beans, cheese, and gluten.
In addition to the dishes on the prix fixe menu, we ordered items from the daily specials listed on the Odd and Ends menu, too. You gotta problem with that?
Our meat rumpus began with homemade salumi, roasted garlic, and pickled veggies…
…and a radicchio and arugula salad.
Next, we got our offal on: pork kidney, bacon, sungold tomatoes, capers, and lemon balm.
Then, the main event: A slow-roasted whole beef shank that had been cooked over 48 hours — accompanied by roasted marrow (a.k.a. God’s butter).
However, the waiter wouldn’t shred the meat…
…until the roasted beet salad (and a platter of braised beans, which the Paleo eaters among us ignored) arrived at the table.
I think he detected that there were savages in our party who needed to be reminded of proper dining etiquette.
Everyone was able to mod their meat with freshly grated horse radish, fleur de sel, house-made mustard, and extra jus.
As if that wasn’t enough food, we demanded three extra platters of vitello tonnato. After all, more bone marrow is always a good thing, right?
For dessert, we had the choice of apricot chocolate cake or vanilla panna cotta with poached pears.
I’m a sucker for panna cotta so that’s what I indulged in.