Sam Marvin

Sam Marvin will definitely turn you on to cuts of beef you never knew you'd like.

July 17, 2017

Echo & Rig, chef Sam Marvin's meatery/butcher shop in Las Vegas' Tivoli Village, isn't just a nose-to-tail restaurant. It's a nose-to-tail-to-tiger restaurant.

"Siegfried is a great guest of ours," Marvin says "As gifts, we'll send femur bones for his white tigers."

The cattle bones are sliced in half, which make it easy for the legendary entertainer's tigers to enjoy them in all their grass-finished glory. (Siegfried & Roy retired in 2010, but Siegfried still has tigers at his home as well as the open-to-the-public Secret Garden at the Mirage.)

Whether you're a big cat or a just a human carnivore, Echo & Rig is a protein-packed wonderland.

 Sam Marvin

"We use every piece of the animal," says Marvin, who butchers everything from cattle to pigs to lamb to poultry to rabbits.

Marvin, who used to run the kitchen at L.A.'s Bottega Louie and is in the process of opening two Echo & Rig outposts in California, says his "preferred use" for beef is serving the knuckle meat under the kneecap as a raw appetizer.

"That's the most flavorful meat you can use for steak tartare," he says.

He also enjoys giving his customers specialty cuts of beef, all cooked over red oak, at accessible prices that makes it possible to feast at the off-Strip Echo & Rig for half the cost of casino steakhouses. He believes in serving sensible 9-or-10-ounce portions of great steaks instead of bombarding customers with a huge hunk of meat they won't be able to finish. So he's got a $29.70 Creekstone Farms rib eye cap and a $35.80 grass-fed wagyu filet along with less expensive "butcher's cuts" like tri-tip and hanger steaks. He also has large-format steaks but stresses that those are meant for sharing.

"If somebody wants to order a 48-ounce tomahawk and they're by themselves, we steer them away from that," Marvin says.

After all, why not try multiple kinds of beef if you really want to bring on the meat sweats?

Marvin gets Akaushi cattle from Texas as well as beef from Double R Ranch, Bartels Farms and Snake River Farms. His daily grind includes making burgers and all-beef hot dogs. He smokes brisket. He cooks a ragu with grass-fed beef for lasagna. He sells a lot of bone broth and jerky in the butcher shop.

"None of the meat goes to waste at all," says Marvin, who sells tallow to candlemakers and has also started to make his own candles as well (two parts tallow to one part beeswax).

On top of that, Marvin uses tallow as "beef butter" for basting steaks on the grill.

Echo & Rig also goes whole hog every single day. Marvin always has Duroc pigs at the restaurant.

"It's a pig that really works well for all utilities," he says. "It's not too fatty. It's a sweet white meat. It's great for sausage-making."

Echo & Rig also uses Berkshire, Mangalista and Berkalista pigs from Northern California.

"If we're making lardo, it's Mangalista or Berkalista because the fat is intense," Marvin says. "It's probably three times more fat than a Duroc. We wouldn't be able to use it for pork belly, sausage or ham."

As with his beef, nothing Marvin gets goes to waste. Every kind of pig Marvin works with is used to make head cheese. Plus, he cook black beans with kidneys, hearts and trotters. He makes prosciutto and different kinds of bacon, including a Mexican bacon with an achiote rub. He caters to butcher-shop customers who want middles, backs or heads of pigs.

Marvin is in the middle of a meaty expansion. He plans to open an Echo & Rig in Carlsbad in the first quarter of next year, but more immediately, he has one slated to open around late September in Sacramento's Downtown Commons development. This Echo & Rig is part of the luxe new Kimpton Sawyer hotel, which also has residential units with a big perk: Echo & Rig's butcher shop will sell meat exclusively to those who live in the building. Plus the restaurant is co-owned by the Sacramento Kings, so it's sure to be a baller destination.