The last time you visited a steakhouse, did you take the time to ask the waiter questions about what’s on the menu, what’s popular, and how it’s prepared? Some people do this naturally, while others tend to simply make an order and enjoy it without knowing much. Obviously this is a question of personal preference, but we usually find that people get a lot more out of their steakhouse experience when they know a little bit more about the steak they’re ordering. Here are three questions worth asking your waiter:

1. Where does the steak come from?

It’s amazing how many people actually go to a steakhouse, order off the menu, have their meal, pay the bill, and leave without ever really knowing anything about the steak they chose and where it came from. Granted — for some people, this is really not an important piece of information. But for someone who really loves steak, and is concerned about the quality and character of the beef on offer, it’s important to know about the source. Is it a large operation or a small one? Are the cows grass-fed or grain-fed? Does this producer have a reputation for quality beef?

Getting answers to these questions not only makes your steakhouse experience more interesting and dynamic. It also allows you to enjoy steak on another level, knowing the care and skill that went into producing the beef, as well as the experience that went into preparing it exactly right.

2. What’s the most popular steak on the menu?

Knowing what other people typically go for can help you make a more informed decision. Sometimes people look at a menu (whether at a steakhouse or any other type of restaurant) and are overwhelmed by all the different choices. Knowing what the most popular items are can make it much easier to get through the ordering process and relax while you wait for the food to come.

3. How is the steak prepared?

Most steakhouses will prepare a steak to your liking, even if you like it “well done” or “rare.” However, some steakhouses will be wary of serving beef that’s either undercooked or overcooked. Traditionally, steakhouse chefs would rather err on the side of cooking the meet a little bit “rare,” since overcooking it often causes the flavor and tenderness to decrease significantly. But even this is a matter of personal taste. It’s a good idea to ask your waiter how steaks are typically prepared. Most professional steakhouses will broil the steaks at a very high temperature, then “sear” them on the grill to give the outside that perfect crispy finish. But not every steakhouse does things the same way. Knowing how your steak is going to be prepared will enhance your enjoyment of the steak, and it will increase your knowledge of how to get the most out of your steakhouse experiences.

Enhancing your experience

The best steakhouses in your area are good at answering these questions and even providing information without being asked. It’s important to them that you enjoy the experience from beginning to end, and they have the knowledge to answer your questions and enhance your dining experience. But obviously, you won’t really know that you’ve hit on a good steakhouse until the plate comes down in front of you.