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Feb 23, 2000 02:55 PM

Steak - The State of Steak

  • t

Paul - I can see just why you asked about "that taste" in beef that you fondly recall. I went through the various food sites looking for reviews of the steak places you listed. Pretty much all of the critics had the same story - great looking steak that cuts with a butter knife and LACKS FLAVOR. To be honest, the diet they feed the cattle has to be the most logical reason. As it is with much fruit --- appearance is everything - who cares what the taste is!

The French had a classic problem with this - the chickens from Bresse were famous for their taste. So famous that many unscrupulous suppliers began to sell "Bresse" chicken that had simply been shipped via Bresse. Meanwhile, the plethora of cheap, less flavorful chicken came to predominate and a taste for the "real thing" began to fade. In America many people apparently think that the taste of a Burger King or McDonald's chicken sandwich is the way chicken should taste. Once the consumers fall into this state of unknowing and lack of discrimination, the restaurants have to cater to their other than taste senses - vision, texture, etc. The fact that this seems to have happened to the social groups that eat at the best steak houses in Boston is a bit shocking and an indictment of the culinary education of our "cultural maximizers". They will pay $30 plus for a steak that lacks flavor - and keep coming back for more. Why should the people who run these Boston Steak Houses care?

What is a guy like you going to do? I would think that you would have to locate a cattleman who feeds his cattle the kind of diet that produces flavor in the beef. Somebody who realizes what is going on in the world of mass consumption -- and breeds his cattle for beef taste. I knew such a rancher out on the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Christo Mountains in New Mexico. I lived in one of his cabins way up back near the peaks above Las Vegas NM. He had his own stash of beef and I could score what I needed from him to prepare at home. He died about 20 years ago and his ranch was sold and divided. I spent many hours in his living room talking about the world. The long walk back to the cabin was made easy by the good food in my backpack. I can hardly describe the joy of seeing the cabin down the trail - standing alone in a blazing field of wild-flowers and me,hefting the weight of a couple of weeks worth of beef on my shoulders, as I stepped along by the stream coming down from the forest above.

The world of taste is a tough world to comprehend - but it's a lot tougher if you just do not care. You do care - and what you say is important to me.


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  1. > I would think that you would have to locate a cattleman who feeds his cattle the kind of diet that produces flavor in the beef.

    In many places (I say not "most" for certain that I would invite a torrent of responses), Kobe beef is considered the best. Japan feeds it's cows grain whereas the Americans use grass. Or vice-versa. Or something different altogether. Maybe it's beer.

    In any case, Kobe beef in Japan costs 4-5 times as much as American beef, even AFTER import taxes. I know not about the situation in US supermarkets, but I can imagine it would be similar or worse. How this trickles down to restaurant prices is unclear, but if you're willing to forego a baked potato and some corn, you really can't top the steak from a (good) Japanese restaurant.

    One particular kind of Kobe beef is Matsuzaka (**might actually be a DIFFERENT but COMPETING type of beef** -- before anyone flames at me), so you'll see this on US menus a lot. This is usually considered the creme de la creme in Japan, with an image like "caviar" or "filet mignon".

    The cheaper meals usually comes as cube steak with bean sprouts. In fancier places, it might be served US style.

    I won't name places, coz I don't have the lowdown on specific restaurants in Boston anymore. We never thought Genji was too hot, and I think it is gone now. My favourite was an all-you-can-eat steakhouse in Okinawa, actually...which prolly doesn't help much.

    In a slightly different vein, though, we used to think the sesame teppan beef/bulgoki at Kabuki, a Japanese-Korean hybrid behind Central Square, was HEAVEN. I don't know if it's still there.

    PS: On a side issue, why do you keep opening new threads for the follow-up to other posts, Tord? Isn't that the whole idea of having threads in the first place, to keep ongoing subjects INSIDE of them??

    9 Replies
    1. re: julie id

      "why do you keep opening new threads for the follow-up to other posts, Tord???"

      Julie, we do ask that people start new threads when conversation drifts. Tord is, I agree, a bit over-enthusiastic in this regard (Tord, can you pull back just a tad on starting new ones?).

      Also, Julie, we do ask that users try not to change thread titles too capriciously, so perhaps you could also pull back a tad on retitling?

      The purpose of retitling and starting new threads is to help those scanning a board index to find postings of interest to them; if a new thread title would convey better information, please change it. If it's time for a totally new thread, please go ahead and do start one.


      1. re: Trisha

        Hi, Trisha, I had this discussion with someone via email too. I am perfectly willing to conform on the titles, except that what exactly is "better information"? It would seem that ANY title I change it to has got to be better than the same old one with "Re: re: re: re:" on it.

        I am used to BBSes where it is MANDATORY to change titles each round, seeing as "re:" adds absolutely nothing. The email I got indicates it your preference here has something to do with coming in via "Hot Posts", as opposed to actually being on the page.

        Is that the case with the rest of you too?? I'll be glad to leave all the titles blank from now on if so desired.


        1. re: julie id

          It would have made more sense if you added the phrase "Kobe Beef" after the subject heading for that post series -- rather than change the heading to "High Steaks" Your post was 80% about Kobe beef.
          Julie asked in a previous post ---
          "why do you keep opening new threads for the follow-up to other posts, Tord???"

          ------ Reply ----------
          Because I was changing the subject from the Best Steak in Boston to why there isn't a consistently good steak to be found in Boston. When I judge the change to be significant, I post under a new heading.

          I think that you are 100% correct about people from other than the Boston Board latching on to these topics on the Hot Board and being out of synch with the post series we are dealing with. Your subject heading for your post is "Titles" --yet it is under the "Steak" listing on the Boston Board and comes out of a dicussion confined to that heading on the Boston Board -- only.

          Julie -- perhaps you could explain why a few people who appear to be critical of you have become active on the Boston Board even though they have had little or nothing to do with the Boston Board in the past? I find this to be challenging. I don't go on the NY Boards telling people there what to do. This approach of "outsiders" implies that we who confine ourselves to the Boston Board are incapable of judging posts on the merits of reason and need help lest we fall under your spell :-) This strange logic gives to you a power of persuasion that thus far eludes me -- as my powers of persuasion sometimes elude you :-)

          It is also a bit strange to find that whole post series suddenly dissapear from the Boston Board in the blink of an eye. The "Will of the OverDog".


          1. re: Tord

            This is certainly not Julie, but a defender of hers of sorts in another (non-Boston) thread; think of me as the local ACLU. FYI, the official unofficial position on her may be found in the attached link. Then, if you still care, you can trace the thread both up and down from that point, and judge for yourself.

            Now, as Jim might say, back to food.


            1. re: AHR

              Are you trying to tell us that "Julie" is actually Sinead Kathleen O'Malley B'Hourihan Riley? Say it isn't so!
              PS: I have a bunch of Irish friends who do NOT like Guiness. I do --with a raw egg in the glass. I can't help myself. Blame it on my youth. It was part of the diet of the Irish Olympic Champion hammer throwers Flanagan and company.

          2. re: julie id

            Julie, etc

            Trisha posted a reply re: subject titles, but I've just reposted it to a more appropriate board: "Site Talk".

            See, on that board, the new thread titled "Changing the Titles of Threads"

            1. re: Jim Leff

              The text of Trisha's post has been modified. Did you edit it --or did she change it at your request? I'm wondering about the concept of the boards being modified and re-written. "The winners write history" :-)

              This post may only last a brief period of time :-)

              Anyway -- the concept of when a subject header should be changed is not an easy one. In a list configured like the Chowhounds, how many board visitors are going to go back over the previous posts to find the new additions to an earlier topic header? It is a formidable task. I have found that some Boston board contributors are suprised that I have commented on threads that are a year old.

              Has the concept of individual board search mechanisms been discussed?

              1. re: Tord

                > how many board visitors are going to go back over the previous posts to find the new additions to an earlier topic header

                I would think anyone interested would. Am I the only one for whom the links change colour after I have read them?? As such, it is trivially easy to see what's new on a page; I don't see any need for "Hot Posts" whatsoever. Besides which, I most definitely have to reread the PREVIOUS (old) post before reading any new one, to follow the train of thought.

                I have nothing against Hot Posts, but if it throws you into a new post without even some review of what the prior post -- or the entire thread, mind you -- is about, I can certainly see why everyone is lost. You honestly can't expect a title like "re: re: re: re:" to bail you out in such a case, can you??

                Why doesn't everyone just go directly to the PAGES, as logic would dictate?

                1. re: julie id

                  PLEASE, folks, can we please take this kind of discussion to the Site Talk board? This board is just for discussion of food in Boston.

      2. Tord Said:

        Paul -- has your mutual interest in food enriched your marriage?

        My wife sometimes thinks I go off the deep end. I can't imagine where she gets these ideas. Maybe it was that "forth" short loin when we already had about twenty Porterhouse in the freezer.

        Thanks for the kind words. Unfortunately, your suggestion that "FEED" is the determining factor is probably correct. This is the hardest problem to deal with. Even if there are farms raising this type of beef…. I am sure the demand on the food service side far outweighs the supply. The chance of this product showing up at retail is slim. After having my first steak at Morton's…. I contacted the supposed supplier…. and was told that they did sell retail. After some direct and specific questions….. it turns out that the beef available for sale was not likely to be what was shipped to Morton's. I expressed my gratitude for their candor and did not place an order. As I mentioned in my earlier post my efforts with "dry aging" short loins have not been successful. At this point my best hope is Peter Lugar. If the steak is as good as advertised… maybe I can find out why. At any rate I have promised myself a visit in the next four months. Jim says he has never been. Maybe he will host a Boston CHOWHOUND outing.

        Who wants to go to Brooklyn????

        Went to Lumiere tonight ….review to follow.


        4 Replies
        1. re: Paul Desorcy

          "Who wants to go to Brooklyn????"

          I live there. Luger's is pretty fine, but plan well ahead unless you want to be seated at 5:15 or 10:45. Also be warned that they're cash only, unless you have a house credit card (which I got in self-defense, even though I dine there perhaps annually).

          1. re: AHR

            Yes, I'd like to join a group in going to Peter Lugar's. Am on the road for the next month, so maybe in mid April? I assume they will take reservations?

            1. re: Margot

              "I assume they will take reservations?"

              You assume correctly, at 718-387-7400.

              1. re: Margot

                I have tentative plans to go on April 17/18. I will post a message when they are firmed up. I would be great to have you and other Chowhounds come along.