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The best steakhouse: your grill

Mail-order steak is sizzling across the country.
/ Source: msnbc.com

You hear the lament quite often: “Steak at home never tastes as good as steak in a steakhouse.” And, in most homes, that’s perfectly true. But David Rosengarten, author of The Rosengarten Report, says if you’re armed with a few secrets, you can serve steak at home that matches what the steakhouse offers — bite by yummy bite — and at a fraction of the cost.

THE MAIN REASON that steakhouse steak has always tasted better — what could be simpler? — is the steak itself. As you know, there is an almost unbelievably limited supply of high-quality steak available in the U.S. and, traditionally, all of it went only to the best steakhouses.

Today — because some of the best steakhouses are now shipping great steaks by mail to home consumers, and because lots of other businesses in the steak world have recognized the home consumer’s demand for great steak — it is possible, if you dial the right numbers, or log on to the right Web sites, to get steak at home that’s every bit as mind-blowing in quality as the best steaks at the best steakhouses. This was not possible ten years ago. I am deliriously happy that the steak world has changed — take advantage of it!

I recently identified 23 high-quality purveyors of top-notch steak, and ordered steaks from all of them. I decided to order one kind of steak only, to keep the playing field even; it is the steak that’s most ordered at steakhouses (aside from filet mignon, not a steak-lover’s steak), variously called strip steak, New York strip, sirloin, etc.

Over a four-day period, I grilled them all over very hot charcoal, bringing each steak to a crusty char on the outside, and a beautiful rare-to-medium rare on the inside. Fully ten of those 23 steaks were steaks I’d re-order anytime — and, most important, six of those ten delivered to me the kind of wobbly-at-the-knees steak rush that only the very finest steak can deliver.

What does that kind of steak taste like? If you’ve never had it — you must go out and get it! The texture’s the key: it chews something like resilient butter, if you can imagine such a thing. Butter alone would be too mushy; this is butter you can bite. “Velvety” and “silky” are other words that are often used to describe such a steak.

Additionally, the marbling of a great steak creates little pockets of “butter,” like butter buds exploding in your mouth as you chew them. The flavor of highest-quality steaks is also extraordinary. They not only feel like butter — they taste like butter! Another flavor element in a great steak is the flavor that comes from proper aging—which most tasters describe as “earthy,” or “mineral-like.” Lastly, a great steak yields up a strong, direct, sweet taste of beef, which lingers on the palate as does the taste of a great wine.

HERE ARE THE TOP SIX SUPPLIERS IN MY TASTING.

1 — Lobel’s Butcher Shop, New York, N.Y.

2 — Palm Restaurant / Palm Pak, Washington, D.C.

3 — Main Street Steaks, Manayunk, PA.

4 — Peter Luger, Brooklyn, N.Y.

5 — Allen Brothers, Chicago, IL.

6 — Gepperth’s, Chicago, IL.


David Rosengarten is the author of The Rosengarten Report. You can find out how to get the detailed tasting notes and see great steak photos from his tasting by visiting his Web site at: www.DavidRosengarten.com.