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3 Things to Look for on Your Steakhouse Menu

When you get to a steakhouse, what’s the most exciting moment before the food arrives? For many patrons, it’s the moment you pick up the menu. All the possibilities are there – all the different cuts of high-quality steak from different reputable sources. The list of sides, soups and salads is also important. These are going to surround your steak and decide the overall flavor of the meal.

In terms of excitement, the menu certainly can’t compete with the moment of sinking your teeth into that very first bite of steak, after the waiter sets it down in front of you. Still, perusing the menu is one of the best things about the steakhouse experience, especially if you’re in a joint that really knows its stuff, and has a reputation to build and uphold.

So here’s the question: Can you tell a really good steakhouse just by looking at the menu? If you’ve never been to that particular establishment before, would opening the menu be enough to determine whether or not your visit it going to be worthwhile?

Probably not, to be honest. There are plenty of steakhouses out there with fancy-looking menus, but that doesn’t mean the food on the table is going to live up to the hype.

There are, however, a few things that might tip you off as to the overall quality and pedigree of the steakhouse in question. Such as:

Information about the beef

Where does it come from and how was it raised? These are important things to know, but they are also very basic. Not knowing these things about your steak is like going to a wine shop that knows nothing about the differences between the wines it sells. It’s one thing to order a “sirloin steak” at a sports bar, and the quality of what you get will probably be tantamount to the tight-lipped description. But if you’re in a real steakhouse, you’ll definitely see information about the various cuts of beef on offer. Furthermore, the waitstaff will be able to answer questions and tell you about the different cuts.

Not too many choices

If the menu is five or ten pages long, you’re probably not in a real steakhouse. The best steakhouses are often specialists – they may offer some non-steak items on the menu, but the selection won’t be excessive. The chefs are too busy preparing high-quality steaks and sides, and that’s what they’re good at. A huge menu usually means you’re in a pub or sports bar – which isn’t a bad thing at all, but it’s not a steakhouse.

Prime, Choice or Select

American beef will be graded one of these three, with Prime being the best and Select being the lowest quality. A lot of steakhouses don’t tell you which of these three ratings your steak is, because they’re selling you one of the interior grades. Choice and even Select can be very good if expertly prepared, but the finest quality American steaks are graded Prime. Whether or not you plan on ordering that particular steak, it’s good to know.

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Do People Remember the Best Steak They’ve Ever Had?

We all know that some things in life are more memorable than others. A significant life event like a wedding or graduation is much more likely to stick in your memory than an evening watching sports at the pub with your friends. That’s not to say that all of these ordinary “forgettable” experience are not valuable, but it usually takes something a little more than that to really be unforgettable.

Meals are a great example. We all eat meals every day, two or three on average, and the vast majority of these are quickly forgotten. If you were asked what you had for dinner every night last week, and you were able to answer accurately, you’d be in a very small percentage of people. Eating can be an important and special event ­– but very often, it’s just a necessity that’s taken care of and quickly forgotten.

Where does steak fit into this picture? The truth is, it’s like any other meal. You’re just as likely to forget a steak dinner as you are to forget a frozen entrée that you heated up in the microwave and ate in front of the television. That’s assuming, however, that the steak you had was of mediocre quality, or was not very skillfully prepared. Because when steak works, it really works. A high quality steak from a reputable source that has been expertly prepared by a steakhouse chef, for example, is something you’re probably going to remember.

Unfortunately, those meals that are really bad also tend to stick in our memories – sometimes even more so than the good ones. It might be that the beef came from a low-quality source. It might be that it wasn’t handled properly during transit. It might be that the chef didn’t really know what he or she was doing when the steak was prepared. Or it might be a combination of these things. The point is, when a steak is mediocre, it tends to be forgotten – but when a steak is either exceptional or not good at all, it’s much easier to remember that experience. It’s also easier to remember the establishment where you had that good or bad experience. That’s why people who have a fantastic steakhouse experience tend to go back for a second visit soon, whereas if the experience is clearly negative, they’ll usually never return to that particular steakhouse.

So when was the last time you had an exceptional steak? Do you remember where it was?

The memory of the best steak you ever had will probably fade and become less detailed as the days pass, even if you try to hold that memory for a long time. You’ll remember where you had the steak, and the establishment will stick in your memory as a place that’s really worth visiting ­– but from time to time, we all need a reminder of what it was actually like to sink our teeth into that tender, succulent steak; with that perfect sear on the outside and that butter-soft inside.

That’s why it pays to find a steakhouse that delivers exceptional quality, time and time again.

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Should I Marinade a High Quality Cut of Beef?

Summer is almost a reality – and here in New Jersey, it feels like we’ve been waiting a long time for it! But the cold and snow makes warmer months all the more enjoyable, and there’s one activity that everybody is looking forward to: Cooking and grilling outdoors.

That’s right – it’s time to open your favorite recipe app, head to the store, and prepare for your next great summer meal. Steak is always going to be a top contender, and you might even head to your local butcher for some really special cuts of beef.

The question is, how should you prepare that high quality piece of steak? Marinades are popular, and are commonly used for meat and poultry of all kinds. We’ve all had a marinated steak on the grill at some point, and most of us have also visited a high-end steakhouse and enjoy a professionally prepared cut of beef.

Which experience was better? In other words, should you marinate your summer steak or not? And if not, how should you prepare it?

There really isn’t a hard and fast answer to these questions, but there are a few important things to note.

First, steakhouse chefs generally do not use marinade to prepare steak. If you ask why, you’ll hear a nearly unanimous answer: Marinade merely covers up the beautiful nature flavor of the steak. Why would anybody want to do that, especially with a high quality cut of beef? A little rock salt is the only thing your average steakhouse chef will use. That way, the full flavor profile of the steak is brought out in full splendor.

But let’s be honest, not all steak is super-high quality. There are plenty of mediocre steaks out there, and using a nice marinade can actually enhance or improve the flavor and tenderness in some cases.

If you’re wondering whether to marinade steak at home, there are couple of things you can do. The next time you visit a quality steakhouse, ask whether the chef uses any marinades, and what his or her opinion may be in terms of marinating high quality steak. You can do the same thing when you buy steak from the butcher, and take advice from someone who deals with steak every day.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to a personal preference. Despite the fact that steakhouse chefs generally don’t like the idea of using marinades, there are undoubtedly people out there who prefer the taste of a nice marinade, and like to experiment with the different flavors and mixtures available.

Our advice? Buy two high quality steaks of the exact same type, from the same source. Prepare one using marinade, and the other without. Then you can decide for yourself!

Taking a cue from your local steakhouse

If you really love steak, you probably don’t always want to have it in a restaurant. There’s something very satisfying about mixing it up once in awhile and grilling your own steak, after carefully choosing a fine quality cut from your local market or butcher. Experimenting with marinades is a worthwhile pursuit – but more often than not, people have to be convinced not to use marinades, and use a more basic method to bring out the full flavor profile of the meat. Either way, enjoy your home-grilled steak this summer!

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5 Things to Look for in a Steakhouse

Steak is often seen as an indulgence, or something you have only once in awhile, on a special occasion, and so forth. But the word “steak aficionado” is there for a reason, and there are a lot of folks out there who eat steak a lot more than “once in awhile.”

Either way, when you have steak, you want to make it count. What’s the point of ordering a steak at a place that’s going to serve low-quality beef that’s been frozen a long time? When you have a steak, you want it fresh, grilled to perfection, and from a reputable source.

Here are five things to look for in a steakhouse:

1. A smaller menu

We don’t mean that every steakhouse menu should be a single card with one or two options – it’s nice to be able to choose your steak from many options and pair it with sides and appetizers of your choice. But often times, when you see a “steakhouse” with an expansive menu offering every kind of cuisine, it means you’re not really in a dedicated steakhouse. The best steakhouses use quality ingredients and design their menus carefully, to reflect the style and creativity of that particular steakhouse.

2. A knowledgeable waiter

The waitstaff at high quality steakhouse really have tried everything on the menu. This is usually a mandatory part of their staff training; to try small portions of everything, and have the chef explain what it is they’re tasting. That’s how they’re able to pass that information onto. That doesn’t mean you can’t visit a great steakhouse with a clueless waiter, but it’s often not the best sign when your waiter doesn’t know much about what’s on the menu.

3. A comfortable atmosphere

There are actually a lot of good steakhouses out there without any TVs. This makes for a dimmer, calmer, and more conversation ambiance overall. Again, there are also many great steakhouses with plenty of TVs. But in either case, the atmosphere should be stylish and comfortable. Traditional steakhouses with dim lighting and posh furniture are always classic; but contemporary designs with neutral colors and brighter lighting can also work very well. You’ll know a comfortable and stylish steakhouse when you see it; and the proof will be in what’s on the table.

4. High quality steaks

This one is obvious. It is possible for a steakhouse to be too “over the top” and descriptive about their steaks, but some vital information is nice. Really good steakhouses will tell you where the meat comes from – and if the menu doesn’t tell you how it was fed and raised, the waiter will be able to fill in the blanks with true information.

5. A good value

Some steakhouses deserve to charge a thousand dollars for a meal, with the effort and attention they put in. But the real art is in bringing an incredible experience down into the realm of a great overall value. That value is determined by all of the factors listed here – but there’s really nothing better than a steakhouse experience that satisfies on all levels and doesn’t break the bank.

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Is it Safe to Eat a Rare Steak?

It’s amazing to look back at some of the health fads that have swept the nation, and the world at large. There is no way to keep track of all the diets, exercise programs, pills, warnings, and other health information that has come and gone. Many of these new revelations have been legitimate, and have evolved our understanding of health. Others fall by the wayside and are replaced with new theories and ideas.

Red meat is a great example. Like chocolate and red wine, you hear different things and read different studies about red meat. Some say it’s healthy in the right amounts – packed with vital nutrients and protein. This is especially true of a high quality steak, ethically raised and cooked to perfection, served with nutritious sides.

But others argue that red meat is not so healthy. You can find a million different opinions on the internet, and sometimes it’s hard to tell fact from fiction.

You will, however, see a very clear answer on menus across the country: The consumption of undercooked meat or poultry can be problematic to health. In many localities, this warning is legally required. That doesn’t mean, however, that serving customers a rare steak is not allowed.

In other words, people are generally told that if they want to order a rare steak, they do so at their own risk. Some people feel that this is more a precaution than anything else. After all, in countries like France, people routinely eat beef that is completely raw and has not been cooked at all.

It’s also worth mentioning that the quality of the steak has a lot to do with it. If you’re ordering a high quality cut of beef at a reputable steakhouse, your chances of encountering any health issues are probably lower. On the other hand, if you’re ordering rare steak from a steakhouse with a questionable reputation, you might be at risk no matter how you order your steak. A high quality steakhouse that knows its stuff is never going to prepare your steak in a way that presents health risks to you.

How do you like your steak?

Whether you like your stake rare, well done, or somewhere in between, the chef who prepares it is going to be an important factor in getting it right. There’s a common idea that steakhouse chefs prefer to prepare a steak medium rare or rare, and that overcooking a nice cut of beef is basically the worst thing you can do to it. The truth is that a good steakhouse chef should be able to manipulate the cut of beef and the order (medium rare, medium, etc.) and turn out an amazing result.

Where are the good steakhouse chefs, you ask? Usually, they work at the most reputable and “buzzing” steakhouses in your area. Places that have gone out of their way to earn a great reputation. Spend a few minutes looking for the highest-rated and best-reviewed steakhouses near you, and you’ll be that much closer to a steak that exceeds all expectations!

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5 Common Complaints Against Steakhouses

Do you remember the last steakhouse review you wrote? Maybe you’ve never actually written one – or maybe you’re a steak aficionado who contributes regularly to mainstream review sites, like Google and Yelp. Either way, there are a lot of great reviews out there – but also a lot of bad ones. Thousands of people have mediocre (or downright negative) steakhouse experiences every week.

So what are all those unhappy customers complaining about? Here are five common complaints against steakhouses:

1. The steak wasn’t cooked right

This is probably the single most common complaint against steakhouses, and for good reason – people often have a good idea of how they like their steak prepared, whether it’s medium-rare or well-done. And if the steakhouse can’t deliver a steak that’s prepared just right, the customer will probably not come away with a positive impression of the place. Cooking each steak to perfection is what steakhouse chefs are trained to do. It may be difficult to get every steak perfect, every single night – but that’s what makes a true professional!

2. The food took too long

Nobody likes to be rushed through their dining experience – especially not at a steakhouse. But the other end of the spectrum is not very pleasant either. Waiting and waiting for your food to arrive is annoying at best, and you may even have a show or ball game to attend. The less-professional steakhouses out there often oversell and overbook themselves, without having enough hands on deck in the kitchen to meet the demand. The result is that people wait.

3. The service was bad

There are many shades of bad service at a steakhouse. Sometimes the waiter seems disinterested, or sometimes they’re too intrusive. Sometimes they don’t provide the best recommendations, or don’t make an effort to fix the problem when something isn’t right. Whatever the reasons for bad steakhouse service, you can count on a negative review when this happens. And negative reviews are something that steakhouses will have to live with permanently. That’s why high standards of service – every single night – are an absolute must!

4. The menu was overpriced

This is another perennial complaint. Generally speaking, people don’t mind paying a premium at a steakhouse – provided the experience is worth every penny. If a steakhouse is going to charge premium prices for their steak and sides, they had better be ready and willing to provide a premium steakhouse experience for every table in the house! If not, their reputation will diminish over time.

5. The interior was shabby

It may not be the most important detail, but atmosphere does count for something. When the interior of the steakhouse feels shabby and poorly maintained, it reflects negative on the overall experience of dining there – even if the food is beyond expectations.

How to avoid a negative steakhouse experience

When you go to a new local steakhouse, you never know what kind of experience you’re going to get – that’s part of the fun. But it’s nice to know that you can count on the fundamentals: excellent steak, a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere, and impeccable service.

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What’s the Average Cost of a Steak Dinner?

Have you been out for a steak lately? How was the experience? If you add up all the steakhouse reviews written in the last 24 hours, you’ll find a whole lot of negative and a whole lot of positive. There are a lot of steaks being served out there, folks, and not all of them are great. The spectrum of quality is wide when it comes to this particular dining niche – in part due to the high demand. People just love steaks.

But some people also don’t know just how good steak dinners can be, because they’ve never been to a place that’s worth a visit from a steakhouse perspective. Many readers travel routinely for business. Some of them may even routinely get steak dinners on frequent flyer miles. People who have tried steaks in different cities around the country, and indeed around the world, tend to have their own ideas of how good a steakhouse can really be. On the other hand, someone who has found their favorite steakhouse close to home may have found a seriously good establishment that offers a great value. They might never go to another steakhouse, and avoid the experience of bad steakhouses altogether.

Either way, it’s interesting to know what people are paying for the steak dinners. It’s interesting to compare and contrast the prices at different steakhouses. Sometimes it looks as if one steakhouse or another is charging audacious prices, while another is serving up amazing dishes at a comparatively great value. The only real way to know who is offering the best value is experience. Any world diner will tell you that there are steakhouses in the far corners of the world – Japan, for instance, from which Kobi and Wagyu beef originate – that are worth every penny of their exorbitant price tag. Most of us don’t have the luxury of plunking down $10,000 for a table of ten, but if we could, we’d probably remember the experience for a long time to come.

So how much did you pay for your last steakhouse experience, and was it worth it?

We can all agree that it’s tough to put a price on a perfect steak dinner. If money were no object, you would probably pay a lot to enjoy a high-end steak, prepared to perfection by a professional steakhouse chef, served with incredible sides in a warm and comfortable atmosphere. And if someone said that you could never have that experience ever again, you’d probably lie in bed thinking about it. Or maybe not – but still, the fact remains that steak is an incredible dining option and it’s hard to imagine life without it.

But that doesn’t mean people can pay whatever the steakhouse wants to charge. Sure, there are people out there for home a $10,000 dinner is nothing much at all. For the rest of us, a bill of $300 or $400 can be quite a pinch. And if you’re a real lover of steak, it can be costly to visit those trendy steakhouses on a regular basis.

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Steak and Seafood: 3 Great Combinations

A high quality cut of beef is great on its own, but pairing it with the right drinks and sides can make the experience ten times better. For a truly great steakhouse experience, you also need to add in a comfortable atmosphere, great service, and good company. When all of these elements are firing on all cylinders, you have a truly A-level steakhouse experience on your hands.

What about ordering? Depending on the steakhouse, you might have a lot of different options for sides – or you might have only a few. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the option of fresh seafood, expertly prepared by a talented chef. This is one of the best combinations with steak when it’s done right. Here are 3 seafood combinations you should definitely try if you haven’t already!

1. Shrimp

Shrimp goes great with steak – the succulent white meat is a wonderful side to a tender, juicy steak. Some people like their steak broiled or fried and breaded. Some people like them grilled. Unlike steak, there are many kinds of marinades commonly used with shrimp, and chefs tend to use more of the tools at their disposal to prepare the shrimp. That’s because steak is best prepared using simple methods and only a few basic ingredients. With shrimp, it’s possible to get more creative. But the best steakhouse won’t stray to far from classic, timeless preparations.

2. Lobster

Lobster has that special feeling of being among the most luxurious foods out there. And when you pair with a succulent steak, you truly have a combination made in heaven. There are many different steakhouses that serve lobster, and if you’re on the east coast, there’s a good chance that lobster might be fresh and very high quality. When you go to your local steakhouse and ask about the quality of the steak, don’t forget to ask about the source and quality of the lobster as well!

3. Crab cakes

If you’ve ever tasted a delicious crab cake alongside a tender, juicy steak, you know just how satisfying this combination can be. But you probably also know that crab cakes have a wide spectrum of quality. There are exceptional crab cakes, and there’s everything else. If you’re going through the trouble to have a high quality steak, why would you pair it with a sub-standard crab cake? That’s a question that the most skilled steakhouse chefs have been asking for a long time.

A higher level of steakhouse

Let’s face it, steakhouses are everywhere. That’s because this particular cuisine is so beloved and so versatile. People congregate in steakhouses to relax, to celebrate, to replenish their energy and enjoy good times with friends. But the quality of steakhouses out there is also highly variable. You’re just as likely to come away with a disappointing experience was you are to come away with a positive and memorable one. Look for consistently high review scores in Facebook and other important review platforms, and choose your steakhouse experiences wisely. You just might find the next great local steakhouse.

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3 Great Sides to Try with Your Next Steak Dinner

If a quality cut of beef – expertly prepared by a skilled steak chef – was placed on the table in front of you, and there was nothing else on your plate, would you complain? Eating a steak by itself may seem counter intuitive; but when steak is good, it’s really good. Most people would be happy to feast on a good steak all by itself.

But there would be something missing, wouldn’t there? Steak and sides are a timeless tradition, and great side dishes are a perfect way to “round out” the experience of a steak dinner. Every steakhouse has sides on the menu, whether they come as part of a steak platter, or “family style” sides that can be shared with the whole table.

So what comes to mind when you think about sides? The majority of people think about baked potatoes, fries, potatoes au gratin, or some other variety of potatoes. There’s a good reason for this – steak and potatoes are a match made in heaven. Then there are the vegetable dishes – whether it’s broccoli, roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or fresh string beans.

But have you really tried all of the best steak sides? Here are three you might want to consider on your next visit to the local steakhouse.

Lobster Mac & Cheese

Everybody knows that lobster and shrimp are viable sides for a juicy steak – but have you tried lobster mac & cheese with your tender slab of beef? When it’s done right, this side dish is incredibly tasty and satisfying.

Wild mushrooms

We’re not talking about some “ordinary” mushroom dish, but a medley of wild-picked mushrooms to go with your steak. The taste of wild mushrooms can really bring out the flavor of steak. Try it and see for yourself!

Toasted Quinoa

Quinoa is a versatile and nutritious grain, and you see it everywhere these days. But it’s actually difficult to cook this grain to perfection, as many people who’ve made it at home to attest. Perfectly toasted quinoa is a rich and flavorful addition to a steak dinner.

Beer battered onion rings

You might associate this menu item with a carnival or ball game, but have you tried gourmet onion rings battered in quality beer, such as Guinness? If you want to take your steak dinner to the next level, you might want to give this menu option a try.

Where’s your next steakhouse visit?

You may or may not share it on Facebook the next time you check into a steakhouse – but have you thought about where that’s going to be? The fact is, there are a lot of great local steakhouses out there. But there are a lot of mediocre ones as well. The difference usually isn’t very noticeable in price, or even ambiance. But you’ll notice a huge spectrum of quality when it comes to the food. That’s because more reputable steakhouses source higher quality beef, and hire more experienced and skilled chefs to prepare it for you. Now that’s the kind of experience you want for your next steakhouse visit!

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How to Write a Review of Your Steakhouse Experience

When it comes to choosing a location for your next steak dinner, online reviews are your best friend. And when you walk out the door after your meal, you get to contribute to that collection of reviews and tell the world about your own experience. But if you really want it to have an impact, think carefully about your steakhouse review before you write it. Here are some tips:

1. Be as honest as possible

A lot of people actually hold back with the write steakhouse reviews – usually because they don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. It’s the same reason AirBnb customers have a hard time criticizing their hosts – they’re aware that people are trying to run a business, and they don’t want to make it more difficult for them. But the reality is that people need an honest assessment of your experience. If a steakhouse isn’t delivering where it counts, or striving to make it right, people need to know there are better options out there. Most people don’t visit the steakhouse all that often. When they go, they want to make it count.

2. Don’t be too emotional

If you want your review to have an impact on those who read it, avoid getting too “sloppy” or emotional. Everybody knows that a person’s mood can have a big impact on their dining experience. Plus, sometimes things just don’t go well, for whatever reason. If your steakhouse reviews is particular unforgiving ­– or particularly over the moon with enthusiasm – people are statistically less likely to take it seriously. That doesn’t mean you should hide your true impressions about the steakhouse, or “dumb down” what you want to say. Instead, try to write honestly about the nature of your experience. If there were pros and cons, describe them as objectively as possible. If the experience was really bad, explain why. And if it was one of your best steakhouse experiences ever, tell the world you’ll be going back.

3. Keep it fairly short

The length of your steakhouse review is a balancing act. You don’t want it to be so short that it looks like you didn’t put any effort into it. On the other hand, you don’t want it to be so long that people feel like they’re reading a novel. Think about your overall impressions of the experience and try to condense them into a one or two concentrated paragraphs. These are the types of reviews that tend of have the most impact.

Saying what you want to say

Online reviews are a wonderful thing for any aficionado steak, because they give you an instant impression as to whether or not a given steakhouse really has the goods. But wading through badly written reviews just makes it more difficult to determine the quality of a steakhouse. Whether you want to say something good or bad about a steakhouse – or a combination of the two – it will have far more impact if you take some time to write a thoughtful review. Remember – you’re adding to the permanent reputation of this steakhouse. Make it count!