utcher’s House Brasserie wasn’t even a gleam in Jeoffrey Offer’s eye when COVID-19 arrived. He was too busy running the kitchens of Moulin to contemplate much else until restaurants closed in March 2020. Suddenly idle, this butcher’s son could crystallize a plan to go solo, and his dream brasserie was born in the final rainy days of December 2021.
Previously inhabited by Pueblo, the kitchen’s new heart is a Santa Maria-style grill that seasons half the menu’s dishes with notes of almond and citrus wood smoke. Dry-aged steaks and chops are center stage, supported by burgers, salads, and sides. Dazzling house specialties are versatile small plates, including a potent Toulouse sausage—house-made with large-grind pork in a snappy casing. Rustic pork pâté and spicy lamb Merguez sausage are also from scratch. Duck confit is pitch perfect. Offer is a native son of Toulouse, and these dishes reveal much pride and affection for his French homeland.
Bone-in ribeye aged 30 days is a deluxe splurge for two, but smaller cuts appeal on their own merits. Dubbed “le faux filet,” the 12-ounce New York is robust next to the demure 8-ounce filet mignon, and skirt steak is a flavor showoff. Six signature sauces add some adventure or not—Béarnaise is most popular, tartare is most interesting. Beef isn’t mandatory thanks to a hefty Kurobuta pork chop, fisted half-chicken, and a handsome eight-bone lamb rack. Large, simply dressed salads feature lardons, sliced steak, and even prosciutto on gem lettuce kissed by the grill. Melted Comté cheese toasts cap the fire-roasted tomato soup. Dry-aged lunch burgers are massive, stacked with thick bacon or cheese. Chocolate mousse with caramel pearls is better than it has to be. Croque madame is the queen of the weekend brunch menu, and there’s a mighty fine breakfast burger—this one with Emmental cheese, bacon, and a sunny side egg.
The shotgun floor plan’s 30-seat banquette with brass-edged tables keeps things snug; a chill courtyard patio seats 35. Freshly expanded, the bar has some prime seats with a kitchen view and polished service plus a genial bartender. Expect future refinements at this rookie shop—there’s buzz about adding new dishes and upgrading to a full liquor license.
Butcher’s House is an unexpected gift of the pandemic. How fitting that it’s our Restaurant of the Year.
3321 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, 714-714-0662
MORE: Orange County’s Best New Restaurants: 2022