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Steakhouse Secrets That Chefs DON’T Want You to Know

Posted by Jake Eller on

Steakhouse Secrets That Chefs DON’T Want You to Know
steakhouse secrets
 Ordering a Steak Well-Done?
Want it well-done? You’re getting the worst steak in the house (and you deserve it).
Now, given that you’re on our website, we suspect you know better than to eat a steak that’s cooked well-done. Chances are, you wouldn’t even dream of it. But, perhaps someone else in your party isn’t quite so well-informed, and decides they prefer their meat cooked through.
 
The steak that gets ordered well-done won’t get spit on. It won’t get rubbed on the floor. It won’t get defaced in any way. Chefs are better than that. But the guy cooking your steak is absolutely going to go find the thinnest, ugliest, worst-looking piece of meat they have in the house. And once they find that piece of meat, they couldn’t care less about it. It might go right in the oven, and it even might get burned (you won’t notice, trust me). What’s more...Here’s a hot take: That’s exactly what you deserve. These steakhouses put a lot of work and time into picking the best steaks they can possibly find. When you order one of those steaks well done, you’re destroying any integrity that meat may have had.

The Truth About Kobe Beef 
That $200/lb Kobe beef you’re about to order probably isn’t Kobe beef.
It’s illegal to import Japanese livestock to the US, and Kobe beef can’t be produced in America. There are about a dozen restaurants in the country that serve real, legitimate Kobe beef. Unless you know for a fact that you’re eating at one of those elite few, you’re not getting real Kobe beef. More likely, you’re going to be eating some domestically-raised Wagyu/Angus hybrid that, although delicious, is absolutely not Kobe beef.
 
Just how common is fake Kobe? Well, so common that even industry heavyweight steakhouse Le Bernadin was called out by Inside Edition for serving imposter Kobe. The restaurant was forced to publicly apologize and immediately changed its menu wording.
 
Desserts are Safe, Right?
Well, likely no... The 14 layer cake isn’t made at the restaurant (and the ice cream comes from a tub).
A trip to the steakhouse isn’t complete without dessert. American steakhouses are notorious for their decadent, indulgent, and all-around awesome dessert offerings. But, whether you get the ice cream sundae or the 14-layer chocolate cake...Chances are, they don’t make it at the restaurant.
 
For many incredible restaurants, making desserts from scratch is simply too resource-intensive to even consider. You need space, specialized equipment, and expert pastry chefs. Often, it makes more sense (and dollars) to contract out a local bakery, and have desserts delivered each morning. These desserts may be made to the restaurant’s specifications, and they may even have an exclusive contract. But, be warned -- the chef probably never touched them.
 
As for the ice cream -- same deal. More often than not, making ice cream is more trouble than its worth. Most steakhouses bring in high-end ice cream or gelato, and scoop it right from a tub.
 
Bone In Steaks
Bones add price, not flavor.
An oft-repeated myth by servers at high-end steakhouses is that bone-in steaks have some kind of enhanced flavor. This isn’t true. But what they do have is an enhanced price tag.
 
Think about what a bone is. The bone matter itself is not only flavorless, but it’s also nearly impossible to dissolve. No amount of heat is going to do anything to the stuff. Inside bones, you’ll find marrow, which is definitely flavor-rich. But, it’s also trapped entirely in the bone. It’s not doing anything for your steak stuck inside the bone. At all. Lastly, we have the connective tissue and the surface fat of a bone. That’s a huge source of flavor, right? It sure is, but none of that is getting into your steak. When you cook a steak, water and juice flow one direction -- out. Even if there’s a significant amount of fat or flavor on the surface of a bone, it’s not going into your steak.
 
But, restaurants are businesses. They need to make money to survive, and that often comes from the art of the upsell. So next time your server ‘guides you’ towards a bone-in option, we’d suggest you politely decline, and save yourself $16. 
 
Not the Filet!...
Filet Mignon is a brand name, and that’s all it is.
As Grillaholics, we think you probably have this one figured out. But just in case we’re wrong...filet mignon is probably the least-flavorful steak you can order at a steakhouse. But, for many people, when they think of a fine steak dinner...filet mignon does come to mind. This had led to a sort of ‘premiumization’ for an otherwise unremarkable cut of meat.
 
What filet mignon lacks in flavor, though, it certainly makes up for in profit margins. Often, filet mignon comes into a steakhouse as a whole loin, which makes for a cheaper per-pound price. Steakhouses can butcher and portion the steak themselves, making for a very lucrative sell. So, not only does the steak sell extremely well, but it also has one of the highest profit margins on the menu.
 
Frozen Product is Everywhere
Now, this can vary depending on where you’re eating. But don’t assume those fresh-caught shrimp have actually been in the water anytime recently. Don’t assume that creamed corn is made from fresh-off-the-cob corn, either. In reality, there’s a lot that needs to be considered when building an incredible restaurant menu. Practicality, logistics, and consistency are all huge pieces of that ever-shifting puzzle.
 
If you’ve got creamed corn on a steakhouse menu, and the corn farmer’s latest harvest isn’t quite as sweet as the previous one...what do you do? Do you just put out a not-so-good dish? Nope. You avoid this situation altogether by exclusively using flash-frozen products.
 
One of the most common culprits for this practice is cocktail shrimp. Those larger-than-life jumbo shrimp aren’t freshly caught. At least, not recently. They’re likely Tiger Shrimp that were caught in Thailand or Indonesia, frozen, and then shipped express to the restaurant.