The strip of Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, California, where Meat On Ocean is located faces the water, with a stunning view to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. For any meat lover, though, it’s what’s inside the restaurant that will capture your attention.
From the same owners as Water Grill down the street, Meat On Ocean is determined to do one thing, and do it well. A shrine where carnivores can worship steaks in all cuts and sizes, the large and open space features an in-house butchery and a temperature-controlled aging room. Executive Chef Michael Teich’s insistence on having as few outside hands on the steaks as possible means much of the process that gets the beef from the ranch to his diners’ tables happens in-house. We talked with Teich to find out a little more about the journey the steak makes from the ranch to your plate.
Meat On Ocean uses meat from five different breeds of cows sourced from all over the country. “All our meats come from smaller, family-run ranches that are part of a co-op,” Teich notes. “Each ranch raises a different breed and each has a specific flavor profile, but we’ve been to every farm and tasted all the meat, so we know we’re getting a high-quality product that’s been raised sustainably and where it’s coming from.”
The restaurant receives their beef in its primal form with minimal butchery; the beef is then divided up to be wet-aged or dry-aged for either 30, 45, or 60 days. Wet-aged beef is vacuum-sealed, which helps it keep its shape and size and protects it from the outside elements. Because the wet-aged beef doesn’t shrink or pick up any extra flavor, diners can expect a more neutral-flavored steak.
By comparison, dry-aging beef is completely exposed to the elements, relatively—both wet- and dry-aged beef are kept in the temperature- and humidity-controlled aging room with fans circulating air; as the meat ages, it loses moisture and shrinks in size but also ends up with a much more intense and pronounced flavor.
The steaks are butchered from the large cuts daily, which is a careful science. “We factor in business levels, what day it is, the reservations we have, et cetera,” Teich says. “We give this information to the butcher and he systematically cuts each portion that we set. We only cut enough meat for what we’ll sell so it will be as fresh as possible. Most steaks are bone-in and shareable, starting at around 20 ounces and going upwards of 30 ounces.”
Once a ticket for a steak comes into the kitchen, the meat is pulled out to sit at room temperature for eight to ten minutes, which allows it to cook more evenly. The steaks are seasoned with Maldon Sea Salt and then cooked on one of two Montague ovens in Meat On Ocean’s kitchen. “The ovens were specially made for us,” explains Teich. “There’s a 1½–2-inch-thick cast iron plate built on top of each ovens. The oven heats up the cast iron plates, allowing us to sear the outside of the steaks, creating a nice crust. We then finish off the steak in the 1,800-degree oven. The steak that comes out has a thick crust but is moist and succulent inside.” Once out of the oven, the steaks rest for five to ten minutes and are then brushed with butter, thrown in the oven for 45 seconds, sliced, and served.
“It’s a lot of work on our side,” Teich admits, “but we want to be able to control the process as much as possible. It’s the same at Water Grill with their seafood. Our system means we get to create a high-quality product and give our diners something special and unique.”
Learn more about Meat on Ocean here.