The steak experience isn’t just about steak. Don’t get us wrong — it’s mostly about steak. Without the expertly prepared cut of quality beef, served exactly how you like it, the steak dinner ceases to exist. But there are a number of other things that round out the experience. Atmosphere is one. A good steakhouse has an atmosphere of comfort and class, with plenty of attention paid to the furniture and lighting. Service is another important thing. We all know what it’s like to experience bad service at a restaurant, and we know what it’s like when the service is good.
There’s also the question of the value. Are you getting what you pay for, or paying too much for what you get? There’s nothing like walking away from a great meal and feeling like it was worth every penny. On the other hand, people often leave a steakhouse feeling like they paid way too much for a mediocre experience.
What else defines the steakhouse experience? Sides. It’s certainly possible to enjoy a quality steak on its own, but without an array of succulent side dishes to choose from, you’re not going to feel like the meal is complete.
Steak and seafood — shrimp, in particular — can be a knockout combination. Lobster is another great choice. When you want a meal that’s truly celebratory and indulgent, steak and lobster is always in the conversation. The mild and succulent flavor profiles of these types of shellfish is a perfect compliment to a nicely prepared steak, and can leave you feeling profoundly satisfied with your meal. On the other hand, if the ingredients aren’t the best quality (or if the plate isn’t prepared well), it only feels like a pale imitation of something great.
This is a big one. Steak and potatoes is an age-old tradition, and steakhouse chefs are always finding new ways to get creative with potatoes. The baked potato is a perennial favorite, although it’s easy to get this simple dish wrong, and many steakhouses often do get it wrong. Twice baked potatoes are another great thing to see next to steak on a plate. Don’t forget the mashed or whipped potatoes — and if they’re prepared by a gourmet team using special flourishes, you’ll love them even more.
Veggie dishes with steak are one of those things that absolutely has to be done right. If not, it won’t be very tasty at all. The texture of cooked vegetable dishes is one of the most difficult things to get right. If you’ve ever had soggy or overcooked vegetables on a plate next to a piece of steak, you know it’s enough to make you want to throw your napkin on the table and walk out. But when the vegetable dishes are super fresh, creatively spiced, and prepared to a crisp perfection — it makes your steak taste that much better.
What sides does your steakhouse offer?
There are many other creative sides to explore, depending on what local steakhouse you visit. Lobster mac-n-cheese is a great example — or mushroom medleys, or beer-battered onion rings. If you find a steakhouse that takes its work seriously, you should be able to order anything off the menu and expect a thoughtful, perfect preparation that accents your steak and keeps you coming back for more.