When you walk through the doors of a steakhouse, are you really expecting to have the best steakhouse experience you’ve ever had? It’s far more likely that you’ll just be hoping for a good experience ­– unless you’ve managed to snag reservations at one of the more famous and reputable joints in the world. In that case, you might actually be expecting something that’s better than anything you’ve had before.

But there is no reason to set your sights low. Steakhouses are in the middle of a Renaissance, even if they never really went away to begin with. Some of the most talented chefs out there are focusing on steak, and a lot of exciting and creative things are being done. When you visit a steakhouse, your expectations should be higher than they were ten (or even five) years ago. New ideas and super high-quality steaks are changing the way we think about this type of cuisine, and standards are higher than ever.

That said, the reality is that every steakhouse experience is unique; there is no perfect blueprint for a steak or a steakhouse, and that is what makes it so exciting to go out and discover new ones. Having said that, there are certain characteristics that are widely shared by high quality establishments. The source beef is obviously a big. If you have mediocre or even low-quality steaks in the kitchen, it doesn’t matter how cutting edge that kitchen may be, or how skilled the chefs who are running it. The result on the table is ultimately limited to the quality and grade of beef. Most good steakhouses offer information about their steaks directly on the menu; and even if not, the staff should have all the information you care to know about the source of the various steaks on offer.

Guest reviews are also very important when you are looking for your next good steakhouse experience. Social proof as become hugely important across the hospitality industry, and steakhouses are no exception. People pay good money for a good steak, and a lot of steak lovers can only afford to enjoy one or two steak dinners a week; or one two per year, for that matter. This makes it more important to maximize the quality of those experiences, and that is why guest reviews are so important.

And finally, of course, there is the question of whether you truly enjoyed the meal that was served, and whether you were delighted buy the quality of the ingredients as well as the skill that went into the preparation. When a meal really rises above the rest, there is a visceral quality to it. With every bite, you enjoy it more and more. The truth is that not every steakhouse out there can give you this kind of experience, but many of them certainly can; and they go above and beyond expectations day in and day out. That is the kind of steakhouse that will eventually serve you a plate that you remember as the best steakhouse experience you have ever had.