Sometimes the only meal that can truly satisfy is dinner at your favorite local steakhouse. As you relax into your seat at the table, you may find yourself wondering which beverage would pair best with your steak, or how your steak should be cooked to taste best, or simply where the meat came from.
Here are some of the most common questions that steakhouse guests ask about their meal — and how professional steakhouses answer.
1. Where do the steaks come from?
Different steakhouses get their beef from various cattle ranches throughout the country, many of which are found in Midwestern and Southwestern states. Your server will know where your particular restaurant gets the various cuts of meat on the menu. If you know a little about different grades of beef quality, you might enjoy your steak even more. For example, if you order a piece of meat that’s graded USDA Prime, you know you’re getting the best product American beef producers have to offer.
2. How should I have my steak cooked?
This is obviously a subjective question, based on personal preference. Statistically speaking, most people tend to order their steaks medium or somewhere near it. Some are convinced that ordering a cut of beef “well done” or even “medium well” is a disgrace to the name of steak — but don’t let this affect you if a well-done steak is what you prefer. Medium means the outside is browned, but the inside is still juicy and tender. The more rare you go, the more pink you’ll see as you cut in. Most steak aficionados prefer anything from rare to medium.
3. What are the best sides or beverages to go with my steak?
A full-bodied red wine is a common choice that pairs well with steak and will not disrupt the steak’s flavor. Any soft drink will also nicely accompany your steak and complement its flavor. Potatoes, vegetables, a salad, or rice are all frequent side choices by people who frequent steakhouses, but there are also some very inventive sides out there, such as lobster mac-and-cheese. Ask your server for suggestions.
4. Is the steak aged in-house?
Many steakhouses age their meat in-house. This process is done in a very controlled environment, which is one reason why achieving the same flavor in your steaks at home is so difficult. Once again, though, your server should be able to answer your questions on what kind of aging process the steak has been through.
5. What’s the difference between grass-fed and grain/corn fed?
All cows start out by drinking milk and then eating grass. This lasts for six months to a year. After that, “conventionally” raised cattle are fed corn and grain the rest of their lives. Grass-fed cows continue to eat grass, and their meat is consequently leaner and of higher quality. Grass-fed meat contains also contains more fatty acids and vitamins — but it’s really the flavor and tenderness that make it more expensive than grain-fed meat.
Steak dinner made better
A steak dinner out can be made even better by knowing the answers to these questions before you take the first bite. When you sit down to your next steak dinner, ask your server some questions about the menu. If it’s an exclusive steakhouse, they’ll be happy to oblige — and your dinner will be that much more enjoyable.