Steak is engrained in American culture ­– there’s no doubt about that. In every city, and in many small towns, you’ll find people filling up the tables at steakhouses. But how well do you know really know steak? There are many common misconceptions out there, and there’s more to steak than meets the eye. Here are four true or false statements to increase your knowledge of this amazing cuisine.

1. Marinades are important at high-end steakhouses

False. Although some steakhouses do offer various types of marinated steak, the high end places generally don’t bother with marinade. That’s because the steak itself is of very high quality, and the goal is to bring out its natural flavor. Emphasis is therefore placed on the quality of the beef and the ability to prepare it perfectly. Good quality rock salt is often used, and some chefs might use a few additional spices. The object is never to overpower the steak with other flavors, but to bring out its natural qualities in the strongest possible way.

2. Steak chefs don’t like to overcook steak

True. Most professional steak chefs see overcooking as a waste of quality steak. Obviously their job is to prepare the meat as ordered, but they also want to lock in the maximum amount of tenderness and juiciness. This is can be difficult to do when the order is medium-well or well done.

3. The type of steak (T-bone, filet mignon, etc.) is what matters most

False. A T-bone from a highly reputable source is going to be far superior to a filet mignon from an average source. When you’re ordering steak, ask about the most quality cuts from the best sources. It’s a bit like ordering seasonal produce – there’s an argument for going with the best steak (from the best source) that’s in stock right now. If you normally order a porterhouse, consider changing your order if something else comes highly recommended by your waiter or chef. Just be sure to ask why it’s highly recommended. The producer behind the steak should be a huge part of the answer.

4. Steakhouses don’t prepare steaks like the rest of us

True. Steakhouses generally broil your steak at extremely high temperatures to cook it as ordered while locking in the moisture and tenderness. Then the steak is seared over the grill to give it that crispy outer finish. It may not be possible to mimic this preparing in your home kitchen, but that’s part of what makes the steakhouse experience special.

How well does your local steakhouse know steak?

When you go out for a steak, part of the fun is knowing what’s behind the quality of your steak, including the source, the chef, the preparation, and even (in some cases) the aging process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your waiter or chef, and test their knowledge. As your own knowledge of steak grows, your experiences will keep getting better and better. That’s part of what makes the professional steakhouse experience so special.