Having been battered by Eatocracy commenters who found my previous listicle on the seven sins of steak houses “too negative,” I thought I might correct that with a sequel: things to look for in a great steak house. I agree that you can’t just complain and walk away, unless, like me, your dream is to live on an Icelandic sheep pasture. We all love steak houses, and we all want to have great experiences there, and we are even willing to pay for them. But how do you know where to go? Here are some pointers. (I’m assuming your primary desire in a steak house is to get great steak. If you are after romantic atmosphere or Dover sole, you are reading the wrong man.)
1. Where’s the Beef? Or rather, where does it come from? If they don’t say, you can only assume it’s Sysco or some other food-service mill. The producers I hold in the highest esteem are, in order, Snake River Farms, Creekstone, Strube Ranch and Meyer. (Disclosure: Creekstone was a beef sponsor for my meat festival.) A brand label doesn’t guarantee a great steak, but it’s a start.
2. The Rule of 100. A steak house that has 300 seats might feed 1,000 people a day—more if they serve lunch, more still if it’s a Friday or a Saturday. How many restaurants do you think get 1,000 perfect, dry-aged, USDA prime steaks at a time? Here is the answer: none. You are better served going to a steak house with 100 seats, a head count that will give you a fighting chance at the steak you deserve.