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Have you ever sent steak back because it had too much gristle?

ipsedixit Aug 5, 2010 04:45 PM

At a steakhouse, you order a steak, it's cooked just right, but it has too much gristle.

Curious as to what Chowhounds have done, or think is ok to do in such situations.

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  1. elfcook RE: ipsedixit Aug 5, 2010 04:48 PM

    I rarely order steak when out, but this very situation occured last weekend when I was on vacation & out with friends. One of our group ordered a rare steak. It came, and was rare, but was full of gristle. He did tell the waitress & the manager came over, had another steak cooked, & removed it from the bill. The 2nd steak was much better. I see no problem with doing this, as the first one was basically inedible except for a few bites.

    1. linguafood RE: ipsedixit Aug 5, 2010 04:53 PM

      Absolutely. That's basically the only other reason for me to send steak back. It's either not cooked as ordered, or it's a crappy piece of meat. That goes back.

      1. goodhealthgourmet RE: ipsedixit Aug 5, 2010 05:08 PM


        1. f
          Fydeaux RE: ipsedixit Aug 6, 2010 07:25 AM

          Yes, but this has only ever happened to me at a mid-grade restaurant (above the level of a Ponderosa or Outback, but well below a Ruth's Chris or Flemings. To their credit, they were very good about brining me a new steak AND taking it off the bill. It was a local place when I was in college and did much more business with steak sandwiches than steaks.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Fydeaux
            mymomisthebestcook RE: Fydeaux Aug 6, 2010 10:06 AM

            Whats gristle?

            1. re: mymomisthebestcook
              onceadaylily RE: mymomisthebestcook Aug 6, 2010 05:36 PM

              Are you joking, or have you have had a charmed life? Gristle is cartilage, it resembles, and tastes like, a white rubber band if you wind up with a chunk that avoided detection as you cut your bite (or trimmed badly for a stew or whatnot). Have you ever had a bit of rubbery 'meat' that you just could not chew through? Working your way around it, wondering what the protocol is, in polite company, to get that thing out of your mouth without attracting any attention or offending anyone? That's gristle.

              Damn gristle.

            2. re: Fydeaux
              goodhealthgourmet RE: Fydeaux Aug 6, 2010 08:26 PM

              "Yes, but this has only ever happened to me at a mid-grade restaurant (above the level of a Ponderosa or Outback, but well below a Ruth's Chris or Flemings."
              it happens at high-end places too - i've had to send back really gristly steaks at Fleming's and Mastro's. the most bizarre part is that i only ever order filet mignon, and the chances of getting a gristly steak with such a lean cut are *extremely* low.

            3. scubadoo97 RE: ipsedixit Aug 6, 2010 03:55 PM

              What cut did you order?

              1 Reply
              1. re: scubadoo97
                ipsedixit RE: scubadoo97 Aug 6, 2010 04:46 PM

                It wasn't me, but my companion ordered a NY Strip.

              2. Chemicalkinetics RE: ipsedixit Aug 6, 2010 04:42 PM

                The short answer is: nope.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  ipsedixit RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 6, 2010 04:47 PM


                  May I ask why? Or have you never been served a steak with too much gristle?

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    Chemicalkinetics RE: ipsedixit Aug 6, 2010 04:58 PM

                    I guess I haven't been served many steaks with too much tough gristle. A little bit maybe, but never too much. That said, I just don't usually send dishes back, so that may be it too.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      MGZ RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 7, 2010 02:13 PM

                      Yep, I'm with him. I don't send food back. If it's got a bit of gristle, I eat around it. If it's inedible, I don't eat it.

                2. monku RE: ipsedixit Aug 6, 2010 06:35 PM

                  30+ years ago on a date at the Charthouse in Malibu got a steak with a huge gristle running through the middle, couldn't even cut it. Complained to the waitress and she didn't do squat. Wrote a letter to the company and no response. Never went back to a Charthouse again.

                  1. h
                    hsk RE: ipsedixit Aug 6, 2010 10:25 PM

                    Never, at least not with New York steak. If I got a tenderloin with gristle I might consider it. Sending a NY steak back because of too much gristle is like sending a prime rib back because of too much fat. You just cut around it.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: hsk
                      ipsedixit RE: hsk Aug 7, 2010 10:20 AM

                      If I order steak, I think it would be unreasonable to expect a diner to "cut around" anything but marbling (or fat), or the bone.

                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        linguafood RE: ipsedixit Aug 7, 2010 10:28 AM

                        dito, ipse.

                    2. j
                      joe777cool RE: ipsedixit Aug 7, 2010 01:50 PM

                      Thank you IPSE for asking the question; I to have wondered about this same thing a time or two. I was thinking it was luck of the draw - a chance you took when ordering - but now I will send it back (if necessary) with confidence.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: joe777cool
                        shanagain RE: joe777cool Aug 8, 2010 01:33 PM

                        I don't consider it luck of the draw at all. When I'm doing the meat buying, I can tell if a steak is good or not at a glance - it's not like gristle is hidden, it's glaringly there in almost every case. So the kitchen knew they were sending it out.

                        In short, I will definitely make it known when my server checks on the table. Gristle ticks me off.

                      2. b
                        blacvulture RE: ipsedixit Aug 8, 2010 08:06 PM

                        I rarely order a steak because I am so picky. I prefer it to have gristle,as well as the steak itself be medium, rare. To me the gristle is the best part.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: blacvulture
                          MGZ RE: blacvulture Aug 9, 2010 05:58 AM

                          I can honestly say I have never heard anyone say that before. Sure, a nice fatty piece of beef can be an indulgent treat, but "the gristle is the best"? Really? I mean, do you just chew it and spit it out? swallow mostly unchewed sinew?

                          1. re: MGZ
                            joe777cool RE: MGZ Aug 9, 2010 08:13 AM

                            Saying the gristle is the best part of a steak is comparable to saying the shell is the best part of the lobster or the pit is the best part of the avocado.

                            1. re: MGZ
                              ipsedixit RE: MGZ Aug 9, 2010 09:47 AM

                              I believe blacvulture may be referring to tendon when saying that "gristle is the best part".

                              I know when I make Chinese beef noodle soup, I look for a cut of beef (usu. beef shank) that has a good amount of tendon (collagen) so that after hours of cooking it'll break down and create that nice creamy mouthfeel.

                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                MGZ RE: ipsedixit Aug 9, 2010 10:06 AM

                                Jeez, Counselor, I'll give you credit for at least attempting a rational defense. . . . I have no problem accepting the notion that slowly cooked tendon (sinew), ligament, hell even skin, results in some tasty melted collagen, but, come on - "best part" of a steak??

                                1. re: MGZ
                                  Chemicalkinetics RE: MGZ Aug 9, 2010 10:10 AM

                                  For some people, yes, it can be.

                                  1. re: MGZ
                                    ipsedixit RE: MGZ Aug 9, 2010 10:14 AM

                                    Hey, I'm just trying to play nice ...

                                  2. re: ipsedixit
                                    kmcarr RE: ipsedixit Aug 9, 2010 02:31 PM

                                    Tendons have much more elastin than collagen in them. Collagen turns delectable when provided with a long, hot, moist cooking, but elastin just turns into nasty, inedible strands akin to rubber. Tendons and silverskin should be removed before cooking.

                                    1. re: kmcarr
                                      Chemicalkinetics RE: kmcarr Aug 9, 2010 02:54 PM

                                      Beef tendon noodle soup?


                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                        ipsedixit RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 9, 2010 03:11 PM

                                        Yes, indeed.

                                        To each her own ...

                                2. re: blacvulture
                                  scubadoo97 RE: blacvulture Aug 9, 2010 05:11 PM

                                  Funny, my parents use to say the same thing. I know I say the same thing about a lot of foods that my kids find just as revolting.

                                  In some professional kitchens "the best part" is used to describe the scraps or waste parts of the food, usually destined for staff meals

                                  1. re: scubadoo97
                                    linguafood RE: scubadoo97 Aug 10, 2010 02:20 AM

                                    Oh yeah. The waste parts of steak are always a feast in professional kitchens....


                                    1. re: linguafood
                                      ipsedixit RE: linguafood Aug 10, 2010 09:18 AM

                                      Well, to be fair, I think that's how flap meat and tri tip were handled way back when before they got popular. Those were the leftover cuts that the butcher handed out to its workers, or so the story goes.

                                3. m
                                  Mestralle RE: ipsedixit Aug 9, 2010 10:31 AM

                                  I once had a steak that looked almost perfect on the outside, but when cut into, it was almost all fat. Very odd. When it was brought to the restaurant's attention, they apologized profusely and replaced it. I'm not sure what happened on the bill, as I wasn't paying. If I remember correctly, it was at a Ritz-Carlton.

                                  I don't see anything wrong with sending something back that isn't the expected quality, as long as it's within reason.

                                  1. sbp RE: ipsedixit Aug 11, 2010 11:49 AM

                                    The only time I would have done it was at a function for a committee my wife is on. So I let it slide.

                                    This was at a fairly upscale steakhouse. Everyone was served a very large ribeye steak. Now I know ribeye can have that little knof of fat in the middle, but my steak looked like half an oreo cookie. A perimeter ring of brown surrounding a giant circle of white.

                                    I know, I should have said something, but it was an awkward situation. Though it was really inexcusable for a quality steakhouse to send it out - the cook must have noticed.

                                    1. i
                                      Island RE: ipsedixit Aug 11, 2010 04:57 PM


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