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Premium Steak Advice

CambridgeFoodie Nov 12, 2008 11:03 AM

Celebrating a close friend's birthday this week and looking for a great cut of meat (porterhouse). Short of lucking out and finding an unmarked prime steak at Hilltop...here are my choices:

1. Savenor's: Dry Aged Prime, $32.99 per pound.

2. Wholefoods: Dry Aged Choice, $17.99 per pound.

3. Dewars: Black Angus Steer Beef, $14.99 per pound. I got confused when talking to the meat guy here (am unsure if he knew his stuff). He claims that their Black Angus is in the top 5% of all meat sold(and the top grade of Black Angus)...but is not rated Prime. He claimed that they have sold this for years and it is great.

4. Costco: Choice, $6.99 per pound.

Of course, I could just go for the most expensive option (Savenor's), but am willing to (and happy to) go with another option based on CH members' advice.

Thank You.

  1. The Chowhound Team Nov 12, 2008 05:52 PM

    The digression discussing meat in general terms and recommending web order sources has been split of and moved here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/571818

    1. 9
      9lives Nov 12, 2008 01:34 PM

      Do you have the time/ space to dry age? I'd go with Costco. .buy a whole strip or loin..save a lot of $ if you're feeding a lot of people

      I find Savenor's Aged Prime to be worth the premium over Whole Food Aged choice.

      Like Dewars a lot but I really don't go often..just not convenient for me.

      link to aging...


      I can personally vouch for it's effectiveness..:)

      6 Replies
      1. re: 9lives
        CambridgeFoodie Nov 12, 2008 01:58 PM

        Thank you for all of your help, this is very interesting and I am learning a great deal.

        1. re: StriperGuy
          CambridgeFoodie Nov 14, 2008 05:44 AM

          I think that what's come out of this very animated discussion is that there is no clear definition of what's "Best."

          Perhaps we should have a Chowhound event on this topic and really judge the various grades, aging, and Costco meats.

          I've opted for the Wholefoods dry aged porterhouse and will report back on Sunday.


          1. re: Gabatta
            CambridgeFoodie Nov 21, 2008 01:19 PM

            I ended up going with dry aged rib eye steaks from Whole Foods (19.99 a pound) and everyone thought they were great.

            That said, I'm not convinced they were significantly better than my usual Costco steaks. I need to do a taste off.

            Come to think of it, we as chowhounders, ought to organize a blind taste off and come to a group consensus.

            Thanks for all of your help.

            1. re: CambridgeFoodie
              Gabatta Nov 21, 2008 01:24 PM

              Now THAT is a solid idea.

              Glad you enjoyed the steaks. At the end of the day all were good choices, and porterhouse is porterhouse. I am thrilled when a friend cooks me steak dinner.

              1. re: StriperGuy
                Spike Nov 21, 2008 06:18 PM

                Costco is my choice as well...it's all rated choice, but if you're fussy, you can find stuff that's really good choice borderline prime :-)
                It's a lot better than Shop&Shop/Shaw's "choice" but I have no idea why...and way better than Shaw's old "blue ribbon" (aka, we're going to make up a grade and see who notices).

                I've also tried Savenor's dry aged prime in a back to back taste test w/ Costco's choice in ribeye form for both. It's definitely better (maybe 10-20% taster and more tender), but $30 vs. $7/lb better? Definitely not IMHO. The dry aging process also shrinks it down quite a bit.

                1. re: CambridgeFoodie
                  9lives Nov 22, 2008 06:30 AM

                  Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

                  After all the talk about wet/dry aging, Savenor's/WF/PL; the most important thing is that you and your friends liked what you ultimately selected.

            2. srgoodman Nov 12, 2008 01:19 PM

              The best steak I ever bought in the Boston area was at the Lexington Farmers Market, from River Rock Farm:

              I bought a bone-in strip steak. I remember being very dubious - it was extracted, fully wrapped in opague white paper, from a picnic cooler. But it was incredibly, incredibly good.

              Though located in central Mass, they sell at a number of the local farmers markets (all finished now, except for Somerville, unfortunately). Their web site says that they will deliver, and that several Boston area stores carry their beef.

              I'm not sure exactly what their current status is (their original "driving force" tragically passed away a couple of years ago). It's probably not a practical solution for a dinner you're planning for this week, but I thought it worth mentioning, if only for future reference.

              2 Replies
              1. re: srgoodman
                almansa Nov 12, 2008 01:45 PM

                John was a friend of mine. River Rock is his father's farm, so while the outreach to our area has since dwindled, the steaks do appear at City Feed & Supply in JP, and the quality is still excellent. They would grade out at choice for the most part, but they're yummy.

                1. re: srgoodman
                  cambridgejen Nov 14, 2008 05:57 AM

                  River Rock Farm has amazing beef of all cuts. I belong to their winter subscription program and they deliver about 7 pounds of meat to us every month. We did this last year and ate like royalty all winter long! (You can also add on other cuts to the regular subscription delivery.)

                2. w
                  winedude Nov 12, 2008 01:16 PM

                  I've had nothing but great luck with the choice cuts from Costco. Depending on how you'll be cooking it (I'm assuming you'll be grilling it), my recommendation would be to go with the Costco steak, and put the rest of the $$ towards a great cabernet, where you'll get much more bang for your buck.

                  1. g
                    Gabatta Nov 12, 2008 12:13 PM

                    My $.02 on your options, plus one to consider...

                    Dewar's is usually excellent, however I got some dry aged NY sirloin there last week that was fine, but really nothing special. Just one bad datapoint out of countless, but something to consider particularly if you have to go out of your way to get there. In my experience, the butchers at Dewars do know their stuff. Which shop did you speak with?

                    The meat at Savenor's is pricey (probably unnecessarily so), however it is always outstanding. I don't cook steak at home too often, so I am might be willing to pay that for REALLY good friend.

                    WF: No complaints about their dry aged beef. IMO the dry aged factor trumps the choice vs prime.

                    Costco: The meat is fine, even pleasantly surprising (you got this at Costco for how much??). However it is far from consistently outstanding. Not really special occasion worthy.

                    One additional suggestion is Fresh Pond Market. I am not sure what their beef is graded (probably choice), however we have been going there at the suggestion of a few friends. In addition to the personalized old school service, the beef has been delicious. They cut to order and will special order if they don't have what you want. Not sure that they have porterhouse 100% of the time or if they have time to get it at this point, but give them a call. If you don't try them now, definitely give them a whirl in the future. Nice to support an independent local business as well. Value here definitely blows Dewars or Savenor's away (they have excellent product, but I am sometimes ashamed to get gouged like that).

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Gabatta
                      Gabatta Nov 12, 2008 12:20 PM

                      Here is the location information...

                      Fresh Pond Market
                      360 Huron Ave, B Cambridge, MA

                      1. re: Gabatta
                        D.Bernstein Nov 13, 2008 12:32 PM

                        You are absolutely correct Fresh Pond Market is worth your while. I have been buying my meat from them for thirty years . Crosby is one of the owners and runs the butcher department. They always have porter house and it 's grade is Black Angus.

                        1. re: D.Bernstein
                          The Chowhound Team Nov 14, 2008 04:34 AM

                          We've moved a digression on Black Angus and other brands/grades to the General Chowhounding Topics board at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/572165

                          Sorry folks, it seems a technical glitch has eaten the posts we tried to move. If you've made a post on this digression that you'd like to repost to a new thread, email us at moderators@chowhound.com and we can send it back to you.

                      2. b
                        Blumie Nov 12, 2008 11:58 AM

                        I've always had great luck wtih Dewar's porterhouse. That said, I don't remember it being that cheap, so perhaps whomever you spoke with didn't know what he was talking about (which would be incredibly disappointing; I hold that place in such high regard).

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Blumie
                          tbiscaia Nov 12, 2008 12:05 PM

                          The best tasting steak I have found in years, is what Trader Joe's calls their "tri-tip" steak. Not expensive, but every time we've had it, nothing but positive feedback from all eaters.

                        2. almansa Nov 12, 2008 11:45 AM

                          Most people can't really tell the difference between choice and prime (that's why steakhouses that serve choice do so well) so I would lean toward the WFM steak if you know that you like dry-aged beef. Don't buy John Dewar's claim. If you don't care about dry-age, then the Costco steak is fine. I, however, would make a trip to the new butcher shop/fish store in Concord and get a porterhouse there.

                          If you can, get some actual brand names from your sources and I can elaborate. Wholefoods will probably be Meyer's (who bought Coleman's.) Savenor's and Costco will likely be IBP or National or Tyson, etc. Dewar will have some Angus program owned by one of the conglomerates. Also, for Dewar's, find out if the USDA regulates his angus program. Then you can look it up online and see the real requirements.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: almansa
                            bear Nov 12, 2008 03:48 PM

                            Hey almansa, I must have missed the Concord butcher/fish opening. What did it replace, and do you know how the fish is and if it is over-the-top expensive? Thanks.

                            1. re: bear
                              almansa Nov 13, 2008 03:13 AM

                              I believe it's called Concord Prime & Fish, and I'm told that the fish is pristine. I believe it based on the scope and vision of the market. I'm afraid, though, that they are too ambitious, or idealistic, in thinking that the public wants all they have to offer in such a small town (expensive beef, game, offal, etc.)

                              1. re: almansa
                                9lives Nov 13, 2008 05:10 AM


                                Mike is a great guy and passionate about food..much like us. I've been buying fish from his family for years and it is really pristine. I knew he 's wanted to open a shop but haven't been there.

                                I wish him the best of luck in his new venture and hope the local community supports him.

                                1. re: 9lives
                                  bear Nov 13, 2008 05:16 AM

                                  I'll stop by on my way home from work sometime in the next week or so and report back.

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