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May 5, 2001 10:52 PM


  • g

Are there any meat eaters left in the chowhound world? I got a gift of "Omaha Steak" (both sirloin strip and tenderloin) which I have since learned is outrageously expensive (~$20 per pound). It was, however, not only uncommonly tender, but also cleaner and more meaty in flavor than locally obtained USDA prime meat.
What is the best beef you've ever had?

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  1. b
    Brandon Nelson

    Was that the call to the carnivores?

    Funny you I always thought that overpriced beef was a sucker bet. I splurged on some Niman Ranch rib eyes to serve my dad for his birthday. I'm a convert.

    At $17 lb I won't eat it all the time, but it's well worth the indulgence once in a while.


    8 Replies
    1. re: Brandon Nelson

      I'm not a fan of meat that's been frozen. It breaks down the texture and flavor. I think that's why those Omaha tenderloins are so tender. They don't have any choice--or any flavor whatsoever, to me. Granted, tenderloin isn't the most flavorful cut of steak--leave that to hanger or rib-eye. But what little flavor it has can be coaxed forth with the right techniques--unless it's been frozen. Then I find it absolutely hopeless.

      In New York City, there are some great steaks available far and wide. The recent meatpacking "scandal" doesn't bother me--I've talked to my butcher about it, and he says the problems are way overstated, and that supervision is tighter than ever before. I believe him because he really cares about this stuff--won't even carry foreign meat, American only, until he feels the Foot & Mouth problem is completely under control.

      Anyway, I just bought me a big-ass (nearly 2 inches thick) rib-eye because, while my chile-pepper-despising significant other is away, I'm going to make green chile paste and tuck some sautéed serrano chiles and garlic cloves into slits in the meat, sauté it briefly, and serve it on a pool of roasted poblano/cilantro paste with a good squirt of lime. And call it a Sunday night!

      1. re: Tom Steele

        Regarding sources, both Luger's and Lobel's now ship unfrozen steaks at rather high prices, though probably worth it based on steaks I've eaten at Luger's and bought at Lobel's in person. (Does anyone know whether Luger's sells the very same meat it serves?) Steven Shaw just posted an updated steakhouse survey, which pointed me to these links.

        1. re: Tom Steele
          George Lynch

          If you want to try some really good meat, expensive but never frozen, order from Niman Ranch. I've had the pork chops, the lamb chops, the ground beef and the bacon (spread over several different orders). My wife and I both think the meat we've had from Niman is remarkably better than anything we can buy in New York, especially the pork chops and the lamb chops, in that order.

          Their claim to fame is in the way they raise their livestock. Here is a quote from their website: "Livestock are humanely treated, fed the purest natural feeds (with no animal by-products or waste), never given growth hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics, and raised on land that is cared for as a sustainable resource. In other words…raised with care, naturally."

          I read an article in the Times by Marian Burros that mentioned Niman, and what I read was enough to prompt me to try Niman once. That first order hooked me.

          When you order, they ship the order the following day in a styrofoam container they pack with those ice bags. Nothing is frozen. They ship by Fed Ex, so the package arrives the next business day. So, for example, if you order on a Monday, they ship Tuesday and you have the order on Wednesday. If you order on Thursday, they ship Friday and you get it Saturday (they charge an extra $10 for that). If you order Friday, Saturday or Sunday, they ship on Monday and you get it Tuesday.

          It ain't cheap, but it is really good. URL is below


          1. re: George Lynch

            I have to agree with you. Niman Ranch is the best! I go to the Bay Area every year for Xmas, and a Niman Ranch Prime Rib is THE Christmas Eve treat!

          2. re: Tom Steele
            Barrie Covington

            Tom, who is your butcher? I'm still looking for a good one....

            1. re: Barrie Covington

              My butcher of choice is Vincenzo (Vinnie) at Garden of Eden on 14th Street just east of Fifth Avenue. He's Italian, raised in the Bronx, and learned his trade from an old-timer on Arthur Avenue. I have never found better lamb, pork, veal, or beef. If he doesn't have what I'm looking for, he can get it within a few days --lamb or veal tenderloins to emu scallops!

              Also wondrous is Florence Meat Market, over on Jones Street between Bleecker and West 4th. The place is truly a time capsule, taking you back to the late 1950s or so, from the sawdusted floors to the politeness. Pretty good prices, too.

              Jefferson Market (on Sixth Avenue betw. 10th and 11th Sts) would be my third choice. (Look, I love Lobel's, too, but the prices are astronomical!) Every two weeks, I used to pick up a roasted chicken at Jefferson (when they were across the avenue from where they are now)--they were better than what I could do myself. But if I'm not roasting one myself today, Eden has even better (and cheaper) roasted birds. I also got burned at Jefferson one Thanksgiving when I'd pre-ordered a fresh turkey and they gave me one that was frozen solid--the day before Thanksgiving! I finally convinced them to give me a fresh, unfrozen bird, but it was a hassle. They kept telling me it wasn't frozen! It felt like an armload of poured concrete! I didn't go back for a few years. But on the whole, the butchers are knowledgeable and the meat is very good.

              1. re: Barrie Covington

                There are several good butchers on 9th ave. between 42nd and 35th. Esposito's Pork shop does just about anything you can imagine with a pig. However, for service I have not found anyone better than Julio at Cuzins meats. He is a very capable with butcher, offers quality products and is a very nice and accommodating guy. An example, I walked in late on a Sat. afternoon and told him that I needed a whole chicken. After telling me what he had, he asked me what I was making. It happened to be a boned out stuffed chicken. He then offered to bone out the chicken and stuff it for me. It is very difficult to find service like that these days.

            2. re: Brandon Nelson

              Is anyone else here a fan of skirt steak? Was served it all the time as a kid -- it was quite inexpensive then. (Now, I just checked Niman Ranch and see it's $28 for a lb and a half!) NYC butchers usually carry skirt steak and it is an extremely flavorful cut. If you've never seen it, it is 'grainy'-looking, relatively thin and quite long - it's usually folded over and when you open it, you've got this looong steak! I would say the flavor is a tad 'gamy' - and if you like that taste, you are in for a treat!

            3. There,s only one way to go ......Kobe beef from Japan

              2 Replies
              1. re: bbk

                I'm sorry, but all that came to mind with your response was that silly Fedex commercial. Every time I see it, I'm in stitches.

                Tank you for the ... uh ... biff jerky. :)

                Blue skies,

                1. re: bbk

                  We had Kobe steaks in Japan. They were ordinary. Cost a fortune, too.

                2. Griller, you must be one lucky fellow! My Mother inlaw had us over for Omaha steaks recently. After much fanfare about the quality, careful packing etc we ate them. They had to be the most god awful steaks I have ever consumed.

                  On the other hand, I get excellent steaks from the two local supermarkets and one local butcher shop. Great flavor, well marbled etc. Sometimes I go into the city
                  to a local farmer's market and get some aged steaks (you have to ask for them). It's worth the trip since the quality is beyond reproach and I save a ton on shipping and handling.

                  The best local steak I ever had was at Steak 38 on route 38 in Cherry Hill, NJ.

                  Haven't been to Peter Luger's yet...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Pat

                    I agree that the Omaha Steaks are over priced, but they are very high quality wet-aged prime beef. Some prefer dry aged, but the quality of Omaha steaks is in the same league as that served at Morton's.
                    My NY steak house pick is The Old Homestead in the meat packing district.


                    1. re: R Washburn
                      Warren Knisbaum

                      Where does Omaha Steaks state they are Prime beef?