Ordering steak can be daunting for someone who is doing it for the first time. Just peeking at the menu can make a person sweat. There are so many options available, which can make the experience even more overwhelming.
Which cut and cooking type should you go for? What kind of wine goes with the steak you want? Does price always equate to taste?
Let our steak experts give you a few tips on ordering steaks and wines. By having this bit of knowledge before you go to your local steakhouse, you can feel a bit more confident in your choices, whether you are celebrating your birthday, meeting a business client, proposing to your fiancé, or for an entirely different purpose.
One of the most critical aspects of your order is choosing the steak cut. The cut is an indication of where on the animal the meat was taken from and can affect the meat’s tenderness and flavor. Most steakhouses include at least four basic types of steaks in their menu:
Strip steaks and ribeyes are two of the most tender as the meats are taken from the least used areas of the animal. As the name implies, the ribeye is taken from the cow’s rib area. Rib meat features more fat than most other cuts, a lot of which will melt away during the cooking or grilling process.
The lovely marbling on the meat adds more flavor to each bite. Choose the ribeye if you are looking for a softer, juicier cut but don’t mind going through a bit more fat with each bite.
One of the more well-known classic cuts, the strip steak features some great marbling and a rich flavor. There are two types of strips: New York and Kansas City. A New York cut is the strip loin taken from the short loin area while the Kansas strip is the meat left on the bone.
More commonly referred to as filet mignon, this cut is perhaps the most popular on the menu and with good reason. Patrons describe the meat as having a soft, buttery texture.
It may come as a surprise, but this type of cut features the lowest fat content. If you are looking for a leaner option, this is the cut to consider.
Taken from the tail end of the cow, the tender meat showcases a milder flavor as compared to the ribeye. The cut features both the tenderloin and the strip steak, giving patrons a taste of two different worlds. It is recommended for diners looking for a hearty steak but unsure of what cut to choose.
Specify the level of doneness
Medium rare is recommended for most steaks as it showcases a range of textures. On the outside, you have the brown, well-done layer while the inside features the soft, warm, and red meat. The best steakhouses know how to create this balance, regardless of the cut you want.
Nevertheless, the medium-rare level is not for everyone. Some want it rare, while others may want more charring.
Think carefully though before you order your steaks well done. Eliminating all of the juices will result in a dry piece of meat. What’s even worse is that you lose a lot of the flavor in the meat.
Pair your meats with the right wine
Elevate your dining experience with a bottle of wine. As with steaks, there are plenty of options to choose from. If you are unsure, go with the following standard recommendations.
For marbled steaks or heavily seasoned meats, go for the Cabernet Sauvignon. The high tannins give the wine a bolder taste and can cut through the fattiness of a ribeye as well. If you are looking for a spicier alternative, go for the fruity Zinfandel instead.
When picking the wine, consider what other dishes you plan on ordering during your meal. Pinot Noir or rosé, for instance, are superb choices for more lightly-seasoned steaks such as a New York Strip. The light taste of the wine also ensures that you can still taste the other dishes that may be on your table, whether it is a serving of mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, or a fresh salad with dressing.
As mentioned earlier, the Porterhouse features both the New York Strip and the filet mignon. With this cut, a medium-bodied wine such as a Syrah works well. For porterhouse with a hearty sauce, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon is a better choice as the taste of the full-bodied wine creates a better balance with the creamy sauce.
Armed with these tips, you now have a better idea of what decisions you need to make and your available options. It may seem like a lot to take in, but no need to worry. The best part with dining in a steakhouse is experimenting with different cuts, preparation methods, and wines.
With dining in a steakhouse, the aim is to enjoy your experience. So try a few and see what works for you!
Chiara Bisignani is the F&B Marketing Executive at Saadiyat Beach Club. She oversees website maintenance, PR requests, marketing initiatives and all general guests’ enquiries for the company’s destinations of KOI Restaurant & Lounge, Boa Steakhouse and Caramel Restaurant and Lounge in Abu Dhabi.