In 1996, Marsha McBride founded Café Rouge, a restaurant and meat market, that has become a Berkeley mainstay. From the beginning, Café Rouge has showcased the meat and poultry of ranchers who steward their land with care, treat their stock with compassion, and follow principles similar to those practiced by California’s artisan farmers. But McBride’s fascination with meat extends well beyond butchering the large and small cuts to include the complex and delicate matters of mincing, stuffing, and curing patés, mousses, sausages, and all manner of charcuterie served in the restaurant.
Café Rouge set out to expand the charcuterie traditions that had been revitalized during the 1980s in the Bay Area. McBride, leveraging her nine years of head of charcuterie at Zuni Cafe with Judy Rodgers, took things to a new level by opening a butcher shop right inside the restaurant. Here customers could buy the expertly cut organic beef, air-dried steaks, pork, lamb, goat, and poultry used on the menu as well as many of the restaurant-made cured products and pantry items such as house rendered lard and stocks. In a region known as a culinary mecca, Café Rouge has moved from pioneer to Bay Area classic.