When you go to a steakhouse with a group of people, there’s always that moment when the server makes their rounds taking orders, and asking that inevitable question: How would you like your steak cooked?
There really aren’t that many answers to this question: Rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well, and well done. But it seems like people have a lot of opinions on the matter – especially steak chefs and steak aficionados. In fact, if you took a nationwide poll on the correct “doneness” of steak, most chefs and steak lovers will say that no steak – especially not a high-end cut of beef – should be cooked beyond medium. The general “professional” consensus tends to be that overcooking a great steak is basically a waste.
According to data collected from a popular chain of American steakhouses, the most common way to order a steak in this country is medium (around 38%). The next most popular order is medium-well (26%), with medium-rare close behind at just below 23%. Around 12% of customers ordered their beef well done. Finally, around 3% of that steakhouse’s customers ordered a rare steak.
This obviously isn’t perfect data, and the numbers could be very different at boutique or high-end steakhouses. But it’s interesting to note that according to this study, the majority of all steakhouse customers order on the medium or medium-well side.
On the other hand, you have a general idea amongst steak chefs that medium-rare is actually a more ideal preparation for a really good steak. That pink tenderness in the center, along with a perfect sear on the outside of the steak, is a commonly-held recipe for greatness.
Given that many people have an aversion to undercooked meat, it makes sense that a majority of people would go with a “middle-of-the road” order. You want the steak to have that tenderness and juiciness – and you definitely want to avoid that dry toughness that comes from an overcooked steak. By the same token, you’re concerned about eating undercooked meat and don’t want to subject yourself to any unexpected health risks.
The good thing to know is that if you’re in a reputable steakhouse with a highly professional staff, you’re going to be able to trust the people in the kitchen to handle your order correctly. You’re also going to be able to trust the quality of the meat and the sanitation standards, so that you can focus completely on the succulent steak in front you.
Find the right steakhouse
Finding the right doneness for your steak is important if you want to enjoy your dining experience to the fullest. There’s no feeling like walking away from a steak dinner and not being able to stop thinking about how tender, juicy, and satisfying that steak was. But that experience isn’t possible unless you find a really good steakhouse with talented professionals in the kitchen. It’s also important to know that a steakhouse uses the best possible sources and can tell you about them. The more passionate they are about steak, the higher your chances of having a memorable experience.