Josh Ozersky has written on his carnivorous exploits for Time, Esquire and now Food & Wine; he has authored several books, including The Hamburger: A History; and he is the founder of the Meatopia food festival. Follow him on Twitter @OzerskyTV.
Like every other man of spirit, I love steak houses. Even the cheesiest New Jersey ones, like Arthur’s, in Hoboken, or the Library III, in Egg Harbor Township, the kind with Reader’s Digest Condensed Books on the walls and a “Queen’s Cut” filet mignon, make me happy. Happier, in fact, than their more upscale rivals.
The contemporary high-end steak house promises an Hermès experience but often delivers a Men’s Wearhouse feeding. The reasons range from incompetence to immorality, but it’s the damage to body, spirit and bank that matter, not the motivations. Even a hard-bitten meathead like myself only gets to go to a steakhouse every few months. The calories are indefensible, the check averages sky-high. It’s not asking too much for the meal to live up to the hype. When it doesn’t, one or more of the following swindles is to blame.
While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.
Get ready for the sizzle. June is National Steakhouse Month!
Look up any steakhouse worth its chops and it will likely have a history section on its website. That’s because a lot what they’re selling is just that – history, a legacy, a tradition.
Before you head out a steakhouse, there are some things you ought to know. First, you may see some terrific lesser-known cuts of beef on the menu, a growing trend according to steak experts. Chuck flap and sirloin flap are said to be on the rise.
Unfortunately, an experimental palate may bring you one step closer to the bane of the meat-eater’s existence. I am talking, of course, about the dreaded overly chewy piece of steak: that inedible morsel of gristle or fat that no amount of chewing will render swallow-worthy.
If you think there is a “right” way to handle this unfortunate culinary experience, you’re wrong. I consulted numerous sources - chefs, etiquette experts, and my dad - and they all offered different solutions for this very sorry scenario.
Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Yes, it’s Labor Day. That most likely means you’re grilling, and while you could just have a burger, what the heck—you’ve labored! You’ve labored all year long! You’ve labored like crazy, gosh darn it! Buy yourself a big steak already. You deserve your share of the cow.
Now, the default pairing option for steaks is Cabernet Sauvignon; it pops up every time someone asks the question, the way those inflatable clown dolls do when you punch them (or who knows, maybe the way real clowns do when you punch them, too). But there are plenty of other great wines out there for steak, and one of the best of them is Australian Shiraz.
There’s more regional variety to Shiraz than a lot of people realize—cooler climate regions like Western Australia and Victoria tend to produce lighter-bodied, spicier wines, while warmer regions like the Barossa and McLaren Vale lean toward the traditional big, ripe, blackberry-rich styles—but either way you’re talking reds with substantial flavor and emphatic tannins. Which is to say, perfect for big slabs of grilled beef.