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Knives in steak houses [moved from General Chowhounding Topics]

I need some assistance from folks who've been to more than 1 steak house, and recently.

I was recently in one, and the knife on the table intended to cut the steak was serrated. This struck me as entirely the wrong kind of knife to use to slice through muscle fiber. It seems to me that the most effective knife would be a sharp, smooth blade, as you find on professional knives (e.g. Wusthof, etc).

The last time you were in such an establishment, do you recall what kind of knife you were given?

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  1. when i worked in a corporate chain steakhouse- serrated.
    other restaurants i've worked in/eaten at vary. some serrated, some were sharper looking versions of a dinner knife, some were semi-serrated.
    the resto my SO works at- regular dinner knife (because their meat is so tender...)

    i would assume that a sharp smooth blade would go dull and need to be sharpened- where a serrated knife lasts longer. in a steakhouse it's probably more practical to have knives that don't need to be sharpened as often.

      1. I've seen both in varying types of establishments.

        Personally, I've never used a better steak knife than a Laguile. I like them so much I insisted that we register for them for our wedding.


        1 Reply
        1. re: jpschust

          Just a quick correction on the Laguiole link so others can find it more easily: http://www.laguiole.com/index2.htm

          And based on recommendations on the Cookware board about 6 months back, I bought a set of 6 Laguiole non-serrated steak knives on eBay about a month back. Haven't had a chance to use them yet, but I do like the way they feel in my hand. I've been using Henckel's serrated steak knives for about 15 years, and while they were good for awhile, I've noticed they now tear the meat vs. cutting the meat. Looking forward to trying the Laguioles very soon.

        2. I think that Laguiole is clearly the gold standard for steak knives. However, because almost anyone in that geographic region can use the name on virtually any knife it wants, you will see Laguiole steak knives in both serrated and smooth. You will note, however, that the really fine ones are not serrated. The reason is that serrated knives "tear" meat, rather than slicing it cleanly.

          Just as in the kitchen, serrated knives are meant to be used on things with hard exteriors and soft interiors, e.g. bread and tomatoes. Smooth blades are for slicing meat.

          1. Serrated is what I always see. "America's Test Kitchen" did a test, though, and found that a high-quality smooth blade beat a high-quality serrated one. I was stunned, but maybe I've never encountered a steak knife with a high-quality smooth blade.

            1. Serrated blades likely hold up better to the abuse of being thrown together in bus trays and dishwashing pans or mechanical dishwashers. Constant knocking of the blades would ruin good quality, smooth blades. They wouldn't hold an edge.
              Same reason you don't throw your own fine knives into a drawer at home.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MakingSense

                Precisely - it's not a "steak" decision, it's a "commercial foodservice" decision.

                1. re: wayne keyser

                  add to that, anyplace that opens with really expensive cutlery, like laguiole knives, soon stops using them, because they walk out the door in handbags and coat pockets.

              2. Add jfood to the serrated list, can;t remember the last time he saw a smooth blade at a steak house. Will have another data point this week, in Chicago and planning on a steak dinner.

                1. Last month my grocery store had Chicago Cutlery Insignia2 smooth bladed steak knives that retail at $30 for 4 on closeout for $6 for 4. I stocked up. Love those knives.