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Olivier's Butchery Gets to the Meat of the Matter in Dogpatch

Photos by Ed Anderson

Should you think Olivier’s is part of the current when-I-grow-up-I-want-to-be-a-butcher trend, you’d be wrong. Opened by Olivier Cordier—a Burgundian whose French is so thick that his wife, Hang Nguyen, has to do his interviews—the teeny, Dogpatch butcher shop comes from a place of family tradition.

Cordier grew up on a farm with a butcher for a father from whom he learned his craft. As an adult cooking in restaurant kitchens in San Francisco, where he’s lived for seven years now, he dreamed of opening his own shop and working directly with the ranchers—just as he did back in France. But it took a year of winning their trust before Cordier was ready to take the leap. “People didn’t want to talk to him at all,” says Nguyen, who is from Vietnam and works as a hair stylist when she’s not helping out at the shop, which debuted this summer. “He even went to the livestock market every week to meet the ranchers. He looked like a cowboy too—but then he’d open his mouth.”

Today, relations made, the butcher shop offers beautifully presented Stemple Creek Ranch grass-fed beef, Branigan Family Farms turkey, and Gleason Farm pork, as well as house-made sausages from a couple of small refrigerated cases. But what separates it from the boutique butcher crowd are Cordier’s French cuts of meat. On offer is paleron (a shoulder cut that takes well to braising) and bavette steak—as well as heart, bones, and tail. “A lot of our customers are European,” says Nguyen, though you might run into chefs like Laurence Jossel of Nopa as well.

For now, Olivier’s is keeping the business very personal. “We’re a small startup operation,” says Nguyen. “We don’t have a distributor. Olivier goes and picks up the animals himself. But that’s his pleasure. It’s his passion.”

OLIVIER’S BUTCHERY, 1074 Illinois St. (at 22nd), 415-558-9887