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Steakhouses? Forget About Them


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#1 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 02:22 PM

A persuasive argument against steakhouses by Josh in his Time column, although I think his strictures don't necessarily apply to all the restaurants on the Gayot list he's criticizing.

Surely it's a bit like the situation with some long-favored traditional Italian restaurants, and old burger joints: it's not so much that they got bad; it's just that we have better alternatives now.

#2 Lex

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 04:53 PM

Surely it's a bit like the situation with some long-favored traditional Italian restaurants, and old burger joints: it's not so much that they got bad; it's just that we have better alternatives now.

I know what you're getting at but that's not the analogy I'd use. There's no inherent bar to entry for Italian restaurants. You basically need a talented chef. In NY there seem to be plenty of them. It's even easier to serve a good burger since the talent level to do that is really low. (If *I* can do it it's got to be ridiculously easy. Lets leave out the media created La Frieda Secret Meat Blend Voodoo.)

What Ozersky did say, which I agree with, is that USDA Prime is in short supply. Steak houses aren't serving as much of it as they did before yet they're still charging as if they were. It makes sense to look at regular restaurants to see if they're serving good steaks. It's a reasonable point. Minetta Tavern comes to mind.

But Josh, come on. You've got some good points but then you do the equivalent of dress up in a silly outfit and mug for the camera.

These days there is often a plate of thick bacon slices that precedes it too, a kind of advance guard of overpriced crappy meat.


Josh O. hates bacon. Who knew?

But the steakhouse is a relic of a time that has passed, and we as a people need to let it go. It celebrates consumption when we should be conserving and prime cuts (strip, rib eye, tenderloin) when we should be embracing ways to eat the whole animal. ... It’s a splurge of the grossest kind, on food of the crudest character.


Wow. He's going all Mark Bittman on us. (An apt example since Bittman now rails against meat after selling thousands of cookbooks telling us how to cook beef and pork.) Josh has made his reputation as a professional glutton.

Posted Image

Fine. Go with it. It's gotten him a column with Time magazine. But it's a little late in the day for him to start lecturing us on the evils of overconsumption.

“I have a dream of a multiplicity of pastramis.”

"One of the Evil Twin beers I tried smelled like a foot." - LiquidNY

"I don't have time to point out all the ways in which you're wrong" - irnscrabblechf52


#3 Orik

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 05:01 PM

It's as predictable as the weather in Kuwait in July - their doctor tells them they're about to die and then they want to ruin the fun for everyone. Posted Image

A part of his argument is valid because most US steakhouses have indeed become much worse than they were (I actually witnessed the period when every last steakhouse in Minneapolis switched from USDA Prime to Choice), but there are many other places now to get huge slabs of excellent beef. I think we had more than one thread about that recently.

The fashionably ideological part is of course a load of nonsense.
I never said that

#4 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 06:46 PM

Fair enough. Is it true that the supply of good beef to the type of steakhouses he's talking about has shrunk? Is some of it going to the non-steakhouse restaurants?

Yeah, the bit about honoring the whole animal, or whatever, is twaddle, and always has been. It don't do the animal no good - it's dead, and if we don't eat it, it will be pet food or something. Who it helps is the chef, who for the first time in recorded history can charge full entree prices for things like eyelids and nostrils.

#5 Adrian

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 06:54 PM

There's a good section in the Joe Beef book about filet being post-modern offal or something like that. It's kind of true.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#6 Lex

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 06:57 PM

Yeah, the bit about honoring the whole animal, or whatever, is twaddle, and always has been. It don't do the animal no good - it's dead, and if we don't eat it, it will be pet food or something.

Remember that place in Williamsburg that was selling leather goods purportedly made from the skins of animals that were served there? There were testimonials from hipsters who rhapsodized about how good it made them feel. As if the hides were previously dumped into landfills.

That reminds me. I need to check into the Mast Brothers website for my daily quota of fresh snark.

“I have a dream of a multiplicity of pastramis.”

"One of the Evil Twin beers I tried smelled like a foot." - LiquidNY

"I don't have time to point out all the ways in which you're wrong" - irnscrabblechf52


#7 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 06:59 PM

Wasn't that Marlow & Sons? Yes, that was intellectually and morally toxic.

#8 Orik

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:02 PM

Fair enough. Is it true that the supply of good beef to the type of steakhouses he's talking about has shrunk? Is some of it going to the non-steakhouse restaurants?

Yeah, the bit about honoring the whole animal, or whatever, is twaddle, and always has been. It don't do the animal no good - it's dead, and if we don't eat it, it will be pet food or something. Who it helps is the chef, who for the first time in recorded history can charge full entree prices for things like eyelids and nostrils.


Exactly. He's also mixing in some occupy logic - if everyone eats pink pig slime made from the entire pig then the rich aren't going to be any better off!

I don't know where to find supply data, but I can tell you beef prices went up 160% over the past decade in a more or less linear fashion.
I never said that

#9 Orik

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:04 PM

There's a good section in the Joe Beef book about filet being post-modern offal or something like that. It's kind of true.


The second rise to glory of Chateaubriand is near.
I never said that

#10 Lex

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:09 PM

Bingo. I found the newspaper article with the stupid quotes.

Posted Image

"[Look at] how quickly you can eat a burger, and that animal sacrifice for you is just gone. Whereas with the bag, that's something that can last for generations and generations," said Huling, whose husband, Andrew Tarlow, runs the trio of restaurants and a butcher shop with partner Mark Firth.

"We're interested in people having another opportunity to really honor the animal."



"There's a man who eats here two or three times a day. [When I introduced the line], he was like, 'Oh, wow, I'm going to need to buy [a belt],' " Huling said. "I hope that he liked it, but it was really more that idea that 'It's my responsibility. I eat those animals so much -- I need to participate in this whole cycle.' "


If only more places did this instead of throwing the hides away.

“I have a dream of a multiplicity of pastramis.”

"One of the Evil Twin beers I tried smelled like a foot." - LiquidNY

"I don't have time to point out all the ways in which you're wrong" - irnscrabblechf52


#11 Sneakeater

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:18 PM

Is it true that the supply of good beef to the type of steakhouses he's talking about has shrunk?


The problem is, it's not clear what type of steakhouses he's talking about.

This is written for Time Magazine, a national publication. I have a feeling he's not talking about the great one-off steakhouses we all know, but more the national chains like Del Friscos or (outside NYC) Smith & Wollenskies. I wouldn't be surprised if THEY don't get the greatest beef. Their own expansion may cause that.
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#12 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:18 PM

It's good to know that, if killing an animal is wrong, the offence can be mitigated by making a purse out of its scrotum.

#13 Sneakeater

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:19 PM


"There's a man who eats here two or three times a day. [When I introduced the line], he was like, 'Oh, wow, I'm going to need to buy [a belt],' " Huling said. "I hope that he liked it, but it was really more that idea that 'It's my responsibility. I eat those animals so much -- I need to participate in this whole cycle.' "


The cow shat as well.
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#14 Wilfrid

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:20 PM

Sneak, he's surely talking about the restaurants in the Gayot's list (not the chains), although as I said I don't think all of them fit the frame.

#15 Sneakeater

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:23 PM

Sorry. I guess I should have clicked that link. I forgot about that.
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