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Savenor's "the only place around with prime beef." Really?

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Yesterday I picked up a big rib-eye, some shrimp, and goat cheese at the Cambridge Savenor's. Total came to $45 and the cashier joked that there wasn't much in the bag for that price and I said jokingly, "Gotta pay for being lazy. :)"

She was all smiles and said I should be pleased because you get what you pay for. She told me that Savenor's is "the only place around with prime beef." I know "around" is pretty vague but how true is this?

I've actually had pretty crappy luck with steaks at Savenor's since they opened the Cambridge outlet. I've paid less for steaks at TJ's and Wholefoods that have been much better. Fortunately though, the steak I got last night was terrific.

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  1. There's a general shortage of Prime beef right now.

    Peter Luger is even serving Choice to people who don't make reservations.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Bostonbob3

      I could swear I saw some prime rib-eye steaks at the Whole Foods in Brighton the other day. They didn't look as marbled as I would have expected for prime, but I doubt WF would intentionally mislabel them.

      1. re: Bostonbob3

        That's some kind of urban legend... it has been debunked (at least as a matter of general practice and not some rare thing) on the Outer Boroughs board

        1. re: Luther

          Oh, it's very rare (the practice, and the meat:).

          It's just been lately when Prime beef has been in such shortage.
          I asked a butcher at Savenor's, and he says it's the worst he's seen in a decade.

          That's what happens when I buy up every piece of Prime in the country.

          1. re: Luther

            its really all about supply. remember that the animals have to be raised. a heifer that goes to slaughter around 2 yrs will generally yield prime. but the demand is so much that they slaughter earlier and yield a lesser choice or select. wha la-prime becomes harder to get and the price continues to rise overall.

          2. re: Bostonbob3

            What do you mean there's a shortage of Prime beef right now? A search on google-news didn't pull up anything on that. Can you post a link? Not trying to be antagonistic, just curious, since I have not heard that.

            1. re: fullbelly

              http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/23/din...

          3. You've got to search to find Prime these days, so I wouldn't be surprised if Savenor's really is the only place around that has it. On the other hand, I have no beef (sorry) with Choice grade myself given that my steak of preference is the fairly low-rent Top Sirloin cut.

            1. You can buy prime at The Butcher Shop. I was at Costco recently and they also had some prime beef, the problem is you have to buy alot of it. I am a fan of the dry aged choice steaks at Whole Foods.

              1. I would bet that John Dewar's in Newton Centre has prime... I just called, they only have prime strip.

                1 Reply
                1. re: steinpilz

                  I totally forgot about them! Yes they do indeed and like Savenors are a wholesale supplier as well, Great meat and competitive prices worth the drive if my memory serves.

                2. The addition at Whole Foods on Fresh Pond means that there is a "real" meat counter again, not just pre-marinated stuff. They have a large selection of prime beef and aged beef. Tried some of the aged beef last night [rib eye on the grill] and it was quite good. Yesterday they had the cases mixed up so make sure you are actually getting the meat you want.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: smtucker

                    Dewars and Savenors are th only places i know of around the city that have real high grade prime beef. a prime sticker on choice beef at whole foods doesn't count. then again, don't shop there much so no recent experience. Dewar in wellesly is my go-to for awesome skirt steaks too.

                    1. re: Bighead

                      Yeah, lots of places say they have "prime," but it's certainly Prime in lower case letters.

                      (If it's actually Prime at all.:))

                      1. re: Bostonbob3

                        I thought the label PRIME was dictated by the government and that it can't be be used unless it is actually prime. Am I wrong? [Not being belligerant, just want to know.]

                        oh, and I agree that Savenor's is fabulous.

                        1. re: smtucker

                          Participation in the meat grading system is voluntary (since it only measures marbling; it's not the same as safety inspections) but I think you're right that the terms are controlled and you can't call something Prime if it hasn't been graded as such. I've never actually seen anything labeled Prime at Whole Foods, but maybe I just haven't noticed. I have been curious about their aged beef, though - is it worth the extra 4-5 bucks per pound?

                          1. re: MichaelB

                            i believe the rule is that if you state it is usda prime, it must be usda prime. otherwise the business is hit with heavy fines and carefully monitored. the prime is graded in plants by inspectors, then stamped prime or choice.there is also select but you really dont want that. then those graded meats are purchased by wholesale then retail then the consumer. i really dont think any labeling is voluntary. the customer needs to know the quality of meat they are buying.Organic and small local farms are not USDA graded because the marbling is not consistent enough. . I have had choice steaks (easy on wallet) and they have been great (not always). Most prime and aged prime has always been fantastic. there is always a chance that the beef might not be tasty, it is an animal. the butcher on staff anywhere should be able show you the marbling and steer you toward the best piece/cut. I have heard that prime is very very hard to get now. I feel that we are lucky to have some small shops in Boston committed to meat and small enough to educate us. I also go for the smaller shops over whole foods or costco because i never see the same person twice on staff there. Im sure that if you have a not so great experience with a piece of prime meat at smaller store they would be able to exchange and get you something you love. that has happened to me and i am always greatful...and full

                            1. re: bernie71

                              Agree with you about the smaller shops. I get all my meat at Savenor's (on Beacon Hill), and am very, very rarely disappointed (one ostrich roast blew up like and balloon and actually popped---no kidding. But that was probably my fault).

                              I especially like going in there and asking the butchers what's especially good, then having them cut it for me right there.

                            2. re: MichaelB

                              I've tried both their Prime and Aged. Not impressed enough to spend the extra $ again.

                            3. re: smtucker

                              I believe you're right, but since when have regulatory laws ever stopped any company from trying to cheat a little?

                              I mean, Peter Luger has a hard time getting ahold of Prime beef, and some little shop in, say, Brockton, is flush with it???

                          2. re: Bighead

                            Have you seen "end steaks" at Dewar's? They used to be our favorite cut as they were affordable and we were willing to risk the occasional chewy bit as they were the ends of prime strips but last time we were in the Newton store we didn't see them.

                            1. re: ginnyhw

                              You need to ask them. i routinely buy things from Dewars that are not in the case- cal ahead and they will have them for you.

                        2. The Stop and Shop in the Back Bay has prime steaks now, but not everyday.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: tamerlanenj

                            Huh????? Where in Back Bay is the Stop and Shop?

                            1. re: BBHound

                              Closest one I know of to the Back Bay is the one at Brigham Circle. Maybe he's thinking of the Shaw's in the Pru?

                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                I'm a huge fan of the meat at Sulmona in the North End, much better than Whole Foods IMO.

                                1. re: phatchris

                                  Sulmona rocks. I am sure they can't get prime if you ask.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    Meant to say Sulmona CAN get prime.

                                2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                  Sorry! of course I meant shaws. duh