The 4 Deadly Steakhouse Sins

SteakBeware of the Steak Scam

A friend today asked me what was the greatest hamburger I had of all-time. I told him one I made at home. In fact, I feel embarrassed even cooking for myself if I don’t think its good enough to pay for at a restaurant.

Having told him that, the next thing I said was “I wish Ruth Chris made hamburgers.” It inspired me to do a bit of online investigating, not about Ruth Chris, but about steakhouses in general. Having said that, my findings are highly suspect. (Google for yourself “steakhouse lies”). Having done my studious work, I want to equip every man with the ability to sniff out an overpriced steak from a sinning house of beef.

1. The Illusion of Choice

Excluding the highest of the high-end steakhouses, you just don’t go to a steakhouse to eat the choicest of meat.

There isn’t a chef there working on your dish. There likely wasn’t a chef that specifically created the recipe for your steak. Which, for the record, is my preference. Steak is awesome in its natural form, and shouldn’t be too dressed up.

So you may walk into a steakhouse believing that you have the great luxury of “choice”. But aside from how long it’s cooked and the specific piece of the cow, there’s little choice you’re given at all. You’re merely a bag for the restaurant to put meat into.

What they call Prime is sometimes a Crime

Therefore, it is imperative that they serve the best meat, which is to say USDA prime. Listen-there’s a severe lack of consistency with Prime’s quality. Just because it says “Prime” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a primo slab of meat. What they get away with calling prime these days is a crime.

I’ve never been, and this article is not a review. But I did read of programs like Creekstone’s Master Chef line or Certified Angus Beef, where they give the option of “choice or better”, which sometimes deliver better marbled beef than their rivals’ top-grade product. Which is also hilarious to me, as “choice” in my mind should already be top-shelf. Why is there even a “better” option? Is “choice” now the term for low-end?

2. Wet Dry-Aging

“Dry-aged” beef is a powerful term that’s quite alluring. And rightfully so: It takes a long time and costs a lot of money. The beef loses a quarter of its water weight, which makes it more concentrated, and its secret biochemical degradation makes it tasty and tender. That is, if the aging room is dry and clean. Now I’m not FDA inspector, but if you believe the steak conspiracy theorists out there, a lot of these aging rooms are too stacked with steaks and aren’t too committed to humidity control. The result is a lot of mold, and a steak that tastes more like toe cheese than great beef.

3. The Suet Scam

Steakhouse owners have numerous subterfuges they practice. These cynical and odious bastards are slathering the aforementioned middling steak with marrow or butter or beef kidney suet. Thusly fooling their patrons into thinking they are eating something they aren’t.

Pouring on suet post-prep is the steakhouse equivalent of Photoshopping rolls, cottage cheese and pimples off a model. It’s effective, but still a swindle.

4. The Burn Ward

Now I’m speaking of your average steakhouse, chain-restaurants and all. Their steaks are so often brutally burnt and a place like Outback has no shame about it. Just look at their menu, website, or commercials! The advertised images of “steaks” are half black or as annihilated as a water buffalo after an airstrike. A good steak should be brown and crusty on the outside, not blackened and carcinogenic.

Final warning: Beware of mid-level steakhouses. It’s likely they are masquerading and are serving up low-level steaks.

Steak image courtesy of:
Bacon image courtesy of:

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