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Where would you go for steak?


Gastro888
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Hey, thanks for the comprehensive reviews, oakapple! That's a great breakdown.

I know I'm odd for my disinterest in the winelist and desire to have a conversation in a steakhouse. The +1 loves meat (as do I) so that's why we're going to a steakhouse for our special date. We will suffer through poor atmosphere for food but I'd like to be able to hear our conversation. I previously mentioned, the food at the Modern's Bar Room was wonderful - the din made is less so. (Strange but true)

So it seems as if the steakhouses in NYC fall into several categories:

-PL

-PL clones

-"it's not JUST about the steak"

-only if someone else is paying for it

Correct me if I'm off my rocker here.

PS: I must admit the fried marrow at craftsteak and the cheese popovers at BLT are rather tempting...

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Thanks for the PL breakdown, FG. So no mashed. German fried potatoes looked interesting when we were there for lunch. Their fries were alright when we had them with our burger.

The bacon was interesting, though. Not meant to be on top of a burger, that's for sure. For some reason when I was eating it, I really wanted to have a bowl of rice and some seaweed on the side. It'd probably make the best onirgri this side of the planet...

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If your preferences are calibrated towards heavily charred steaks, Craftsteak (and Craft) is always going to seem off. That's because Tom Colicchio's opinion of what makes a good steak is not char-oriented. He uses the French method of cooking steaks, which is a light sear and a slow roast. Even with the "new and improved" ovens at Craftsteak, you're not going to get a really charred steak. The point of Craftsteak is the quality and diversity of the meat: you can get meat and permutations of meat there that other steakhouses simply aren't offering. I would never recommend Craftsteak to people looking for the stereotypical steakhouse experience; I would recommend it to exactly the opposite group.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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If I didn't have to pick from your list, I would go to Captain Jack's. 

I really liked Captain Jack's which was an unexpected find.  The outside looks like a tourist trap kind of place, but get past that, and the steak, service and wine list (yes I know you don't care about that) equal some of the best "name" places in the city.  The sides were pretty outstanding too as I recall.

Do you mean Uncle Jack's at 36th and 9th?

Oops. yeah, I think that's what I meant! :blush:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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If your preferences are calibrated towards heavily charred steaks, Craftsteak (and Craft) is always going to seem off. That's because Tom Colicchio's opinion of what makes a good steak is not char-oriented. He uses the French method of cooking steaks, which is a light sear and a slow roast. Even with the "new and improved" ovens at Craftsteak, you're not going to get a really charred steak. The point of Craftsteak is the quality and diversity of the meat: you can get meat and permutations of meat there that other steakhouses simply aren't offering. I would never recommend Craftsteak to people looking for the stereotypical steakhouse experience; I would recommend it to exactly the opposite group.

To be honest, I've never had steaks as charred as they are at PL's. (From what I could tell when I saw them passing by, that is.)

What do I want in a steak? I want flavor. I want that porterhouse to jump up and smack me in the kisser with intense meatiness that makes me glad I'm not a vegetarian.

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Keen's, Striphouse and Captain Jack's?  OK, thanks!  Anyone ever heard of Uncle Bill's in Queens?  Apparently they do Kobe beef.  ( Or would that be "Kobe" style?)

You know I have yet to see it listed as "kobe-style" on any menu, but the vast majority of "kobe beef" in NYC is so-called American wagyu. "Wagyu" itself means Japanese Beef, so, go figure.

What made it more confusing was the 4-year ban on importing Japanese beef, as they stopped importing our beef. So most Japanese restaurants have also by now switched over to the American strains of wagyu...

That said, it's still light years ahead of USDA prime, but there are higher levels of flavor and marbling in Japan, so if you can find actual imported Japanese beef, jump on it...

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I think American restaurants have gotten a lot better at this.

Wagyu is a breed of cattle from Japan (it may also be simply the Japanese word for beef because that was the cattle available)...Wagyu is fattier and has more marbling than other breeds.

Wagyu has been successfully raised in both Australia and the U.S. (I think South America as well).

for years American restaurants were serving American or Australian Wagyu and labeling it as "Kobe"....now that real Kobe (i.e. Wagyu from Kobe) beef has become available...I've noticed that most restaurants have become pretty good at labeling the difference (a few always got it right)...the price difference is, of course, extreme.

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Ah. Thanks for the info, guys. Interesting.

OK, so if given a choice between a PL porterhouse and some Wagyu rib-eye or strip, what would you go for?

Also, just wondering - what's the rule for gnawing on the T-bone at the steakhouse? I'd suppose you'd take it home and do it in private but damn, you're missing out. (OK, don't worry - I'd never do this in public but I am just curious)

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I think American restaurants have gotten a lot better at this.

ya think? Isn't it just "Kobe beef" or "wagyu" on menus everywhere?

...I've noticed that most restaurants have become pretty good at labeling the difference (a few always got it right)...the price difference is, of course, extreme.

That's usually how I tell at this point.... the price... and I ask the chef if possible...

Wagyu is a breed of cattle from Japan (it may also be simply the Japanese word for beef because that was the cattle available)...Wagyu is fattier and has more marbling than other breeds.

wa+gyu means Japanese (in the culinary sense) beef the way wa+shoku means Japanese cuisine... Then again, beef has only been available in Japan since the Meiji restoration, 1868...

It IS specific to the breeds of cattle raised in several prefectures in Japan, but in a broader sense refers to how they are raised, i.e. the feeding of beer, sake, shochu, massages and milk baths... I don't think the aussies, north and south americans go quite as far, but foreign-raised Wagyu has gotten really damn good

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Ah.  Thanks for the info, guys.  Interesting.

OK, so if given a choice between a PL porterhouse and some Wagyu rib-eye or strip, what would you go for?

Ooooh good question....

If it were beef from Japan or the top grades of American Wagyu, I'd have to get the Wagyu... I mean an entire steak of that is pure gluttony...

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I think American restaurants have gotten a lot better at this.

ya think? Isn't it just "Kobe beef" or "wagyu" on menus everywhere?

they've gotten a lot better in the past few months (a few were always accurate) because now that real Kobe is available they have to explain why they're selling it for $40 more an ounce than what they were selling the Wagyu they were labeling as "Kobe" before.

the steakhouses all seem to get it right. heck, BLT Burger sells both an American Wagyu burger and a burger made from real Kobe (for $60..and what a waste of the meat).

Alinea and Per Se and the like have always called their meat "wagyu"

Edited by Nathan (log)
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Well, I'll have to see what Uncle Bill's sells in Queens - geniune Kobe or top-grade American Wagyu. That might make a difference in my decision.

Nathan: To tell the truth, I love Chef Frank Ruta's Kobe-style beef truffle cheeseburger on homemade toasted bun at Palena restaurant in Washington, DC. Granted, I order it knowing full well it ain't the top grade and that it's not the proper way to eat Kobe-style/Wagyu/Kobe beef. But for $10, I'm happy.

However, I will not pay $60 for some friggin' burger. What the hell? No way.

Edited by Gastro888 (log)
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Oakapple, great post on the steakhouses on the prior page. I agree with about everything you said, including maybe my being a bit harsh on BLT. I think, sum and substance, if I were going for a great steak I'd go to PL. If its steak & sides, QM. Finally, if its atmosphere with good steak (and great onion rings I might add!) I'd go to Porter House at TWC.

By the way....(as a total unrelated aside, mentioning it only because my mouth is now watering from reading this thread).....tonight some of us are having a steak cook-off at a friend's rooftop grill. We're doing NY Strip cuts from 3 producers: Lobels, Luger's, and Bryan Flannery in Northern California. Report to follow on the Cooking section.

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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Apparently Uncle Jack's serves Kobe beef. They don't mention how big the serving size is but it's listed as $100. I like how they mention the beef is massaged with Sake for tenderness.

Hello, WHILE IT'S STILL FREAKING ALIVE MAYBE...oh well...

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Also, just wondering - what's the rule for gnawing on the T-bone at the steakhouse?  I'd suppose you'd take it home and do it in private but damn, you're missing out.  (OK, don't worry - I'd never do this in public but I am just curious)

At Luger's we have them bag up the bone (or bones) for us. So we can enjoy them at home without having to worry about the stigma (or mess) of getting every last morsel off that bone.

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Oh, thanks jon777. Good to know. Wouldn't want to be gauche gnawing on a bone in public. Although that would be kinda funny to do if you were on a really bad date...just to make things fun.

So. Thus far it's:

PL

QM

BLT Prime (go cheese popovers!)

Striphouse (goosefat...goosefat...goosefat)

Porter House (mayyyyybe)

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In my lifetime, I've seen at least a hundred people pick up the bone at Peter Luger and gnaw on it, without incident.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Apparently Uncle Jack's serves Kobe beef.  They don't mention how big the serving size is but it's listed as $100.  I like how they mention the beef is massaged with Sake for tenderness.

Hello, WHILE IT'S STILL FREAKING ALIVE MAYBE...oh well...

At $100 it's probably a 12oz Ribeye or Strip... or maybe a lower-grade 20oz

in Japan I usually enjoyed it in smaller quantities, often as a guest at someone's house, as yakiniku, kushiyaki, shabu shabu...- I mean, imagine eating a 16oz slab of otoro, that's kind of how we look eating an entire steak of it because it is at such a premium! then again, is there really too much of such a good thing?

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Hmm. I don't mind paying $100 for a Kobe Ribeye or Strip *if* it's top grade Wagyu or Kobe. How do I make sure that it's the real deal?

Considering that their 48oz porterhouse is $80+, I wouldn't mind paying $100 for Kobe. We'd just have to eat another steak to fill us up (non-Kobe).

FG, good to know that there are others out there who like to gnaw on the T-bone. Growing up, I thought I was the only one who did this as I never met anyone else who gnawed on T-bones.

OK, this is tough! I gotta make up my bloody mind soon...

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and contributions!

Edited by Gastro888 (log)
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Hmm.  I don't mind paying $100 for a Kobe Ribeye or Strip *if* it's top grade Wagyu or Kobe.  How do I make sure that it's the real deal? 

Considering that their 48oz porterhouse is $80+, I wouldn't mind paying $100 for Kobe.  We'd just have to eat another steak to fill us up (non-Kobe). 

FG, good to know that there are others out there who like to gnaw on the T-bone.  Growing up, I thought I was the only one who did this as I never met anyone else who gnawed on T-bones.

OK, this is tough!  I gotta make up my bloody mind soon... 

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and contributions!

Well... 48oz vs 12oz.... definitely good strategy, to approach the Wagyu course like a plate of fine sashimi, not the old 96er...

Which reminds me, the last time I at Wagyu was at Sugiyama - perfect cuts that you seared on a seriously hot stone right in front of you - like LAN, for something different, highly recommended...

6 Course Kaiseki with Wagyu $145

Besides asking where in America or Japan (or Oz for that matter) it's from, not sure what else you can do... I've seen a 12-point marbling scale as well as Grades (AA, A B and C I think...) you can try to find out what "grade" it is....

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I'd still vote for Uncle Jack's. Luger's has great steaks, but it just doesn't really strike me as a "date" place. At jacks, you'll get great steaks plus ambiance.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Thanks for the tips, raji. That sounds like a good game plan. I'm going to contact the restaurant and see what they have. I'm not paying $100 for 12oz of upgraded Prime. I would like to have something that's really Wagyu.

Marlene: yes, I want a "date" place but I also want good food. Recall: I want a GREAT steak. Seems like those two are mutually exclusive I guess. :laugh:

Side note: We went to JG for lunch and while the food was good (albeit heavy for us...we're not used to the butter, foie, and cream) and the atmosphere lovely, we felt like we couldn't relax and enjoy ourselves. I know, I know...we're strange...

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Thanks for the tips, raji.  That sounds like a good game plan.  I'm going to contact the restaurant and see what they have.  I'm not paying $100 for 12oz of upgraded Prime.  I would like to have something that's really Wagyu.

Marlene: yes, I want a "date" place but I also want good food.  Recall: I want a GREAT steak.  Seems like those two are mutually exclusive I guess.   :laugh:

Side note: We went to JG for lunch and while the food was good (albeit heavy for us...we're not used to the butter, foie, and cream) and the atmosphere lovely, we felt like we couldn't relax and enjoy ourselves.  I know, I know...we're strange...

Another thing to keep in mind when dealing with real Kobe (and to some extent with any Wagyu) is that just because it's the highest grade (read: fattiest/most marbled) doesn't mean that it will always be best tasting in any form or dish. Kobe beef is best appreciated not in the American slab form that most steakhouses serve, as this doesn't really bring out its best qualities. In Japan, the highest grades of Wagyu (Raji, as the board's resident Japanese food expert, please either back me up or correct me on this) are generally thought to be best appreciated when sliced somewhat thinner than you'd usually expect for an American steak and then quickly cooked over fairly high heat, so that the fat is just rendered/caramelized. Because of its exceptionally high fat content, the typical steakhouse cooking procedure will either undercook it in parts (a waste as the fat just stays raw/cold) or totally overcook it (which loses the great flavor that the fat is there to produce), rendering it a colossal waste of money (and beef). So even if the beef quality is very high, I'd generally steer away from American steakhouses serving "Kobe" in the American format. I'd also not bother eating it at any temperature other than what they recommend (medium rare-ish). If you're going to bother with the money and effort, get it prepared as it should be at one of the various Japanese places in town that do this. I'm sure there are specific places that do high end Japanese steak, but I also know that Sugiyama does a very good job of serving it correctly.

That aside, if you're looking for a more typical American steakhouse experience, I'd choose between Peter Luger (the Brooklyn original only!) and Strip House. Others (Mark Joseph, etc.) might be good compromises, but if this is going to be special, why not have the real quintessential NY steak experience and go to PL already! You can't really speak critically to any of the other NY steakhouses without using Luger as the benchmark. And if it's Porterhouse you're after, PL is the choice to make, as Strip House specializes in the rib chop.

Edited by LPShanet (log)
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