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Steak question

I've got a friend coming over for steak tomorrow while the ladies go see sex and the city. So steak seems like the logical counter-move. I'm curious to hear about CH'ers opinions on where they suggest getting a steak.

I'm open to any suggestions, preferrably within the grid of East of Yonge, South of Danforth, North of Eastern, West of Coxwell.

I was going to go for Cumbrae's as a default. But i've had some really good Angus steaks from Dominion's. Is Sterling Silver (Sobey's) any good? Royal Beef? I've been to Lady & Sons, and won't go back.

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  1. i would do Cumbreas in your neighbourhood - tried tested and true

    or cheese botique (a few minutes west of you and out of your territory)

    i've also heard greats things about 'the butcher shoppe' in etobicoke but haven't been able to try yet

    1. I walked by what looked like a high end butchery on Danforth, same block as Allen's. Can't vouch on price or quality, but it looked interesting.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Snarf

        This would be Blackstone's. It's new....just opened up this week.

      2. My first pick would be Royal Beef. There is also the new Rowe Farms at Queen & Logan and Blackstone Organic Butchers at Danforth and Chester might be open by now (I don't know for sure).

        Meat on the Beach is a decent fallback, a little further east.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Mila

          Rowe farms...i've bought a couple things from them. There's been a lot negative reviews of the place (embee), and I tend to agree. I would qualify Rowe as regular quality with a premium price.

          1. re: grandgourmand

            Have to say I agree, the prices have sent me running. I'm glad to see Blackstone is open and will report back when I've tried it.

            So...... did you buy those steaks yet?

            1. re: Mila

              Nope. After work.

              Curious to hear your report on Blackstone. That area definitely needed something. There are a few greek butchers in the area, but I fing them lacking.

        2. I really enjoy the boneless rib steaks i've bought at T&T on Cherry Street....very reasonable as well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jay98

            maybe you were lucky (or i was unlucky)

            but i've had the worst possible luck with meat at t&t.....it's VERY cheap but it's never soft to me - i think they don't age it at all maybe?

            but it never feels like a high quality piece of meat in my mouth

            1. re: ssainani

              Chinese groceries will generally not have aged meat (much less dry aged meat).

          2. You may want to try Costco (of all places). They seem to age their meat properly, and the prices are decent comparatively speaking. They have a package of New York cuts -- 8 per package -- which I've had great BBQ success with; tender and tasty.

            The usual issues apply to Costco: be prepared to buy in bulk quantities, membership required, line-ups at the cashiers, etc. etc. (On the bright side: you get your exercise, having to walk for miles to get to what and where you want.)

            Good luck.

            1 Reply
            1. re: yaddayadda

              It's standard cryovac aging; the advantage is in the buying pressure they can exert on big Alberta packers, who don't want to lose the account.

            2. Cumbrae's would be that guarentee, worth the money IMO...

              ...oh and well played BTW!!


              6 Replies
              1. re: Recyclor

                I have learned to be cautious at Cumbrae's. We had some terrible NY steaks there. We were looking for something quick, so bought some peppercorn crusted NY steaks there. They were all fat and gristle. Just terrible. And it wasn't just 1 steak out of the 4 we bought, it was all 4, so it wasn't an accident. Obviously they were trying to pass off inferior steaks by covering them with a crust.

                I still buy meat there, but never anything crusted or otherwise covered up that I can't see the actual meat.

                1. re: Sooeygun

                  I would go to Cumbrae and look for something very well marbled.
                  There is a reason these places marinate or pepper crust meat so never buy a piece of meat you can't see!

                  1. re: garlicandwingnut

                    Thanks for the anecdotal evidence, sooey. I don't ever buy anything pre-marinated. Like my steaks with salt and pepper. That's it.

                    But it's interesting that even a place like Cumbrae's could be doing that "cover up" kind of thing.

                    1. re: grandgourmand

                      I'll comment from both sides of my mouth.

                      - It isn't necessarily nefarious. Since meat is inherently variable, however carefully it has been raised, some sections will be better than others. You don't want to cover up the taste of the finest meat you can get with intense spice mixtures and marinades.

                      - Unless I see something spectacular in the display, which isn't common, I always ask for a custom cut and describe exactly what I want. The store staff doesn't have any special expertise and you may need a REAL butcher from the back to get the best. I'll buy the convenience stuff when I'm in a rush - especially some of the stuffed chicken breasts - but it's always better to see what you are getting and season it up yourself. Note that this practice is even more essential at Royal Beef.

                    2. re: garlicandwingnut

                      I think you're being unduly suspicious. Bad meat is bad meat regardless, but my 'contact' in the butcher trade insists that it is CUSTOMERS who dictate what is stocked. And in the downtown/midtown areas they want "almost prepared" meat which they can just through into the pan/grill whatever. It gives the customer the 'satisfaction of cooking' without having to do the preparation. That's the economic reality - nothing nefarious.

                      1. re: estufarian

                        I'm one of those people that, when seriously pressed for time, will buy partially prepared steak. I don't get the satisfaction of tweeking to suit hubby & I, but I do get a good meal quickly. That said, I would never repeat the experience of the Cumbrae's pepper steak. I love everything they do EXCEPT that one. It's just plain overkill. The peppercorn steak at St Jamestown Steak & Chops is much more to my liking.

                2. ssainani, i usually go to T&T early on Friday mornings. Haven't picked up a bad piece of beef yet. Last Friday, they had wonderful looking t-bone steaks, but i like the smaller rib steaks.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Jay98

                    Cumbrae's or Summerhill, Kerr Farms beef - you can't go wrong. We had some amazing strip loins from there last week.

                    1. re: millygirl

                      Interesting that Kerr Farms beef is sold at Sobeys under their Complements brand and also at Costco.


                      1. re: Alacrity59

                        Perhaps Summerhill is able to select the best from the Kerr stable. The fact is, Kerr has grown into a large operation dependent on several beef farmers and other growers working to their specifications. And now they have frozen prepared foods, but are these prepared at the Kerr farm?

                        1. re: jayt90

                          Royal had dry aged Prime Alberta beef last weekend. It was good, but not worth twice their regular, fantastic NY striploins that are already aged 8 weeks.

                  2. OK, so I finally bought a steak (actually quite a few between now and when this post was made).from Cumbrae's. Had a friend over, so we got a couple ribeyes plus a filet for my wife. All I can say is WOW. Definitely the best steak I've ever had at home, and in the top-10 for my all-time home or restaurant. This experience is definitely pushing me more and more towards the eat less meat and better meat.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: grandgourmand

                      oliffee in summerhill for meat consistency i think.


                      1. re: grandgourmand

                        I have experienced with great steaks from Cumbrae's and Royal Beef. But for close to home I have had great experience with Rowe Farms. Some steaks more marbled then others, you just have to go with what looks best that visit. Plus I like the fact they know exactly what one of their farms your meat/pork/chicken came from.

                        Prices are up there but not as expensive as certified organic.

                        I strongly would strongly suggest that although a very good bang for your buck, meats from places like Cosco and T&T are the hormone and steroid induced meat products that we should be avoiding.

                        Good quality meat is worth the price in my option.

                        1. re: LvilleLocal

                          Growth hormones and steroids are not allowed in Canadian beef. Just be sure yo're not getting USDA select, choice or prime if the feed additives concern you.

                          1. re: jayt90

                            I buy my Steaks from the Meat Counter Butcher(s) at Loblaws' Dupont & Christie.....have always been happy with the quality, their service (Craig, Carmelo & Paul) is impeccable.. They are obliging to the nth degree!.I've been shopping there since they opened and the only disappointment I ever had was with a Brisket (Beretta brand...didn't care for the flavour at all). Have never had a bad/tough Steak...I buy a Strip Loin for my husband and a Tenderloin (filet) for myself and will continue to do so...I have no reason to change.

                      2. i want some fresh ground ribeye for burgers

                        yes, i know you think its a waste, but ive had them at a friends house and they were great (freshly ground)

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: duckdown

                          If you can get to a Loblaw's that carries a significant amount of Certified Angus and /or AAA at about 9:00 AM, and possibly wait for up to an hour, beautiful rib steaks and roasts are often available for half price.

                          These near sell-by date items have actually aged a tiny bit on the shelf and tend to be the more flavourful cuts near the shoulder end of the rib.

                          Two caveats: There is no guarantee of stock on any given day, and some staff won't tell you whether it's worth waiting around for a while.

                          A few suggestions: Chill to NEAR freezing before grinding to keep the fat from melting; watch the fat content - I'd want about 25-30% fat in my mix; salt a few hours before grinding - preferably overnight - with coarse salt. You might want to throw some percentage of short rib into the mix.

                          1. re: embee

                            I surveyed meat trays in three nearby chains this morning, looking for mark downs.
                            I didn't find any good looking steaks at Sobey's (Sterling Silver) or Metro (Certified Angus). Metro has cut back on Certified Angus beef in trays, and Traditionally Raised pork and chicken in their displays.

                            Loblaws, however, had several well marbled Certified Angus rib steaks and a strip loin, at half price. I bought them, plus a 'Tender and Quick' rib steak not nearly as well marbled. This line of beef, is presented as Canada 'AAA' or U.S.D.A. Choice, no way of telling which is in the tray.
                            If Canadian, it would not be subject to finishing on corn, hormones, or steroids. I have not heard about any beef finishing in Ontario or western Canada like the squalid stalls in some midwestern places.

                            All three stores had nice steaks and chops at the counter, but full service amounts to $40/kg, approaching Cumbrae's prices.

                            1. re: jayt90

                              Sometimes there is a label on the package with the inspection/grading stamp. You can also ask at the service counter, since they may come in a marked box.

                              When they have whole primal cuts on sale, the grading stamp is usually on the plastic bag. A bunch of tenderloins will have some stamped USDA Select and some stamped Canada AA - totally random.

                              1. re: jayt90

                                Not just the Midwest. I drove through California's central valley last year and passed a few high density feed lots. Man o man, those cows are jammed and it litterally stinks for miles around.

                                1. re: grandgourmand

                                  We need not be too smug. While our pork is well raised and desirable in other countries, and, our relatively high prices for battery chickens avoids many problems described in the media, I have frequently visited relatives near Strathroy, ON, who live close to large pork operations, and it stinks, for maybe 2km away. The pork farmers, to their credit, are raising more pigs with "natural feed and grains" now, as they get a better price.

                                  1. re: jayt90

                                    By the way, I'm going to order a half hog from Beef Connections. They are minimum 50% Berkshire (the males are 100%). Need to get a small freezer, though. Have you tried their pork?

                                    1. re: grandgourmand

                                      Yes, and it is good. Mine was Duroc, before the grower, Robt. Huber, had his Berkshire operation under way. Last I heard, he wants to have 75% Berkshire cross, with 25% Duroc, another heritage breed.

                                      When I ordered a half, I wasn't quite prepared for Alice, a terse order person at the Old Order Mennonite Abbatoir, Freye's. I believe I got too much sausage, and not enough extras, like cheeks, tail, uncured belly, skin, fat, etc. The pork hocks were a surprise, big and meaty, about 12 inches long.
                                      I ordered 2" thick chops, but did not get any loin roasts.
                                      I ordered the leg as a ham, and it was well cured but huge, too big for a small family.
                                      All these things can be discussed with Robt., or even me, before you tackle the details with Alice.

                                      I believe Mr. Huber will have large free range chickens available in the Fall. When I visited the farm, these hens definitely had the run of the place!

                                      1. re: jayt90

                                        This is what he told me about the genetics:
                                        "Berkshire boars and the sows are York x Landrace or York/Landrace X Berkshire. The resulting offspring are either 50 or 75 percent Berkshire."
                                        I told him I wanted no processed stuff, really just a cut carcass plus extras as you mention (forgot about the fat, that's important for sausage making).
                                        The pricing he gave was pretty good (roughly $2/lb) and he's very forthcoming with answers to my question (plus invite to farm).

                                        like I said, I have to get a small freezer. but this stuff seems like a great mix of value, quality plus enjoyment.

                                        I take it the steaks are pretty good?

                                        1. re: grandgourmand

                                          Haven't bought any steaks recently, but Huber says many of them would grade AAA if they were ranked that way. Initially, my steaks were cut too thin, but they are about 1" now. Thicker on request.

                                          Ground beef is exceptionally good; they know how to mix, and use use only two or three carcases at a time.

                                          The pricing of the pork is excellent, even considering all the lost weight you pay for.

                                          A farm visit (Mt. Forest) is highly recommended. You'll probably get some free range eggs, and maybe odds and ends like oxtail , skirt steak, or hanger steak, all veterinary inspected and cut by Alice and family..

                            2. re: duckdown

                              Find a Charlie's Meat location (other Asian grocery stores should have it as well) and look for their rib eye. The prices are usually very good, but the meat is lower grade. Ask if they'll grind one for you. A couple of years back, Charlie's rib eye was $2.58 per pound. Last time I went it was over $4, but still, if you're looking for rib eye specifically to grind, why spend top dollar for AAA?

                              1. re: Dr Butcher

                                T&T will occasionally get AAA ribeye. I wouldn't recommend it as a steak, since they don't have much flavour (lack of aging, I suppose). But for grinding and using for hamburgers, why not?

                                1. re: Dr Butcher

                                  Why not go to Charlie's direct? *g* My family has been going there for years and "Uncle" Charlie would always give me a bag of prawn crackers... to keep me quiet. HEE HEE.

                                  Note: I haven't been there in a dog's age though. Not a convenient location for me.

                                  Charlie Meat Store
                                  383 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON M4K, CA