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Asking for a steak "medium rare"

I have just started to ask for my steak by temperature instead of rare/medium rare. Am I a douche for doing so? Is it an a-hole thing to ask for a steak 130-135 rested?

I know the temperature, and I know the steak, if it's a good cut of meat, should be perfectly cooked (at least to me) if it is pulled off the grill at about 125 and left to rest for 5 or 10 minutes.

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  1. I suppose if they have a thermapen they can accommodate you. Maybe it would depend on where you order that steak.

    1. To me, it's weird. I think that most chefs test steaks by "poking" them, rather than using a thermometer.

      3 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca

        If you insert a thermometer into a steak on the grill you are only going to suceed in drying it out as too much juice will run out of the punctured meat. It is the same principal as cutting a steak that hasn't had a chance to rest. That is why we chefs "poke" the steak to tell the doneness. The only solution is an infared thermometer that many kitchens do not own.

        1. re: boomousse

          Infrared thermometers read only the surface temperature. Not a solution at all. Wouldn't a chef know how they work?

          A small poke with an instant read thermometer is hardly going to decimate a piece of steak. Old wives' tale. It's a good tool, and once one gets a feel for their equipment, steak, and deserved level of doneness, they are often retired.

          1. re: tommy

            well like i said, i don't use an infared thermo...or poke a hole in a perfectly good steak...and rarely get a steak sent back due to improper cooking. Repition and a hot grill make grilling steaks an easy task...

            that being said...medium/medium rare is not a real temperature...blue, rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, and well are all the catagories we understand and all have specific attributes associated with them..if the restaurant you are dining in can't ever get it right...find one that does...there are a lot of us out there.

      2. "Am I a douche for doing so? Is it an a-hole thing to ask for a steak 130-135 rested?"
        They'd probably refuse your request from fear you might whip out a thermometer to check when it arrives at the table and return the steak.

        You're ordering a steak from a steak house they know what rare/medium rare is...even though it's a very fine line.....you probably won't hit that mark.

        1. "I have just started to ask for my steak by temperature instead of rare/medium rare. Am I a douche for doing so? Is it an a-hole thing to ask for a steak 130-135 rested?"


          There are defined temperatures for rare, medium, well-done. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperat... To assume the restaurant does not know what it means for every other conventional diner to request "medium-rare" is both insulting to the restaurant and rather conceited on your part.

          14 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            I'm sorry, let me give some background. I just moved to a very small town, pullman, where there really aren't any good restaurants. We don't go out, and I hardly ever order a steak, but even when we were in colorado springs, getting a steak that was cooked properly was VERY difficult, even in the nice steakhouses.

            When I worked in restaurants, I always had a thermometer in my jacket sleeve pocket. I didnt use it for every cut of meat, but I did use it 50 75% of the time.

            I haven't actually started asking, though it crosses my mind every time I order a steak medium rare on the rare side and end up sending it back because it's closer to medium. I am not trying to be an ass when bringing this up, I am just thinking about how I can mitigate sending another steak back. I partially feel like I'm somehow failing to get across how I want my steak cooked.

            And I would NEVER bring a thermometer to a restaurant. That had never even crossed my mind. I'm an a$$, but not that big of an a$$.

            1. re: jameshig


              A better way to handle this might be to describe the color of the meat (e.g. reddish in the middle, or pink, or whatever) you want rather than using "medium rare" (or heaven forbid, a temperature request).

              And, sorry to say, but there are steakhouses out there that do not use a temp guide to determine when a piece of meat is "medium rare" or whatever ...

              1. re: jameshig

                If you went to even a "decent" steak house they would know what you're talking about.
                You ask for medium rare and it comes medium the problem is they don't know how to cook a steak or it's been "resting" under a heat lamp too long.

                Having worked in restaurants they're taught by feel and not temperature when it comes to doneness.

                Even at a high end steakhouse I give them some latitude.

                1. re: monku

                  Having worked in restaurants, I was taught by thermometer. I was also taught such in culinary school.

                  If I order a $30+ steak, I expect it to be cooked properly. That means that if I order it medium rare, I get a well rested, medium rare steak. Not something I have to send back, which I have done before.

                  My level of pickiness increases as the price increases.

                  1. re: jameshig

                    Well if you worked in a restaurant you should know if someone ordered their steak by temperature what they would think.

                    1. re: monku

                      Monku, you are right, I'd think they were a douche- but I'd be double sure to use the thermometer I always had on me as I'd think "this guy's gonna send his steak back if it's overcooked."

                      1. re: jameshig

                        Any place that serves steak (even Outback) will know how to cook a steak properly without a thermometer.

                        The variable will be as another poster stated whether or not the steak rests at all. Which is why if your request for "130-135 rested" would be treated with disdain.

                        1. re: jameshig

                          if i saw a cook stick a thermometer, knife or any other probe into my steak to see if it was done, i'd probably kick their ass. jk--but i'd cancel my steak order and get something deep fried--less chance to incompetently screw up & lower investment.

                          a decent broiler cook checks everything by touch, not by piercing expensive meat and wasting the juices before it's even served. god save us from culinary school graduates!

                          often the problem is with the customer. a steakhouse that's been in biz for thirty years may have a more well-cooked "rare" than the new-fangled grass-fed steak place, so when in doubt ask the server to describe the appearance of the establishment's "rare." having a simple dialogue with the server is much more helpful in getting what you want, rather than expecting the whole world to adapt to your own standards.

                          there are also places i just wouldn't order a steak, i wouldn't have any confidence in getting it cooked decently. it's not worth getting bent out of shape about, just don't order a steak at these kinds of places.

                          also, before completely panning the kitchen's execution, it's sometimes worth a look at the doneness computer notation on your final tab. some inexperienced servers won't be able to remember how a customer ordered a steak--gosh, so many things to remember when waiting on people!-- so when confronted by the prompt at the service computer, rather than returning to the table, embarrassingly asking how'd you like the steak cooked again, slowing everything down, omg--s/he will guess-- "medium"-- i suppose that's in the middle somewhere, close enough, nobody will really notice or care, right?. . . yeah, *shocking.*-- but if a ditzy server orders a steak medium instead of medium-rare, it's poor form to freak out on the kitchen for cooking the meat to medium. this scenario happens (in lower-end bistro type places) more than you'd think, and it isn't the cook's fault. again, the best way to get what you want is to have the dialogue with the server-- s/he will get a clue that the doneness of your steak is important to you, and will attempt to get it right.

                      2. re: jameshig

                        Here's the thing - if you ask for a steak to be cooked a certain way and it comes out wrong to me that's an indication that they can't cook their steaks right, not that you have differing opinions of what MR is. I would do one of two things:

                        1. If a steak is way overcooked, send it back.
                        2. If you consistently get overcooked steaks, start asking for it rare.

                        1. re: joonjoon

                          3. If you consistently get overcooked steaks - stop ordering steaks at that place. Or stop going there.

                          1. re: Indirect Heat

                            Indirect............that is what I would do.......................

                            Or, meet the grill cook and introduce yourself and tell him what you would like, followed by a little "beer money"; I'll bet on your next visit when you say "Hi" your steak will be perfect!!!!

                          2. re: joonjoon

                            Sorry, I worked at a bunch of steak houses. Customers order "medium rare" on autopilot, without knowing what that means a good percentage (30-40%) of the time. I've taken out perfect medium rares - mostly pink with just a stripe of red in the centre - and had people exclaim "It's raw!!". Now, I tell my server what I want (black exterior, blue centre), and my daughters do the same (they prefer rare and MR, but ask for it by colour, not by name). We're rarely disappointed these days.

                          3. re: jameshig

                            To start off I must say that now that I am over 60 yrs.old I am ordering steak and roast beef cooked to Medium rare. When I was younger I used to order and cook my steak Medium well. Has that situation happened to any others??? and I would also agree that your pickiness should increase as the steak price increases.

                      3. re: ipsedixit

                        Kudos to you for speaking the truth!

                      4. I think you are probably risking the wrath of the kitchen if you expect them to take your meat's temperature. You can imagine the banter about where to stick the thermometer. And I rather doubt that many busy kitchens actually let your steak rest for even 5 minutes before serving it.

                        I want medium rare and since most places err on the side of overcooking, I order rare. I have never received a steak so rare that I wanted it cooked longer, but that could easily be done if the need arose.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: greygarious

                          OP, here you have your answer. If you always get medium when you order med rare, then order it rare. easy.

                          1. re: danna

                            That's what I started doing several years ago and it turned out that I liked rare as well. Now, while I prefer it rare, I'm okay with anything from rare to medium rare (although my tolerance level for a steak being overcooked decreases in high end restaurants and steakhouses).

                            1. re: Sooeygun

                              Same here - I started ordering rare because MR occasionally turns out medium. Turns out I prefer my steak rare, and when it's slightly overcooked and comes out MR it's still delicious.

                              1. re: joonjoon

                                Ditto on this! I just started ordering rare instead of MR and realized that I love rare steak. If it ends up coming out out MR I'm still happy with it. Anything over that it gets sent back.

                                1. re: joonjoon

                                  I used to do that but realized that I don't like *rare* that much and once in a while that's exactly how it'd come (which is my own fault, I asked for it that way) - but it was the only way to deal with the numerous places that seemed to call medium rare that which i would call medium.

                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    Your description is why I order steak 'on the the rare side of medium rare'.

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      That's actually how I want it, but I figure that at the vast majority of places (read: not high end steakhouses) that nuance is either not going to make it to the line and/or won't be heeded by the line anyways

                                      1. re: jgg13

                                        This only happened to me once but it was annoying. There was a Tex-Mex kind of place and although I probably would not have ordered a steak the friend I was with insisted we both have steaks (he's a German friend) and he was buying. He ordered his steak well-done. I ordered mine medium rare. They both came well-done. part of the problem was that they arrived at the table served on hot cast iron fajita pans. If they weren't well done coming off the grill, a few minutes on the cast iron did the trick.

                              2. re: danna

                                See, now you're identifying the semantic problem. Putting what I noted below another way - "You say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to . . . ."

                                1. re: danna

                                  This is why I ALWAYS order my steak medium rare on the rare side.

                              3. I was being a little sarcastic in my post as I do not think most places measure the temp but go by feel. I don't think they have thermapens. I probably would not order a steak at a place that I know doesn't know how to cook it. We were recently at a restaurant that specializes in steaks. We ordered a steak sandwich and the girl would not let us order how well done we wanted the steak. We never went back. As for Outback, they may have their steaks precooked and flash cook them. We were once told they were out of medium rare steaks. I too would not want someone poking my steak.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: wekick

                                  I've had that happen to me at an outback (I don't EVER go to outbacks, but it was a friend's birthday and I wasn't paying). I did some snooping and found out that outback didn't have grills, or real cooks for that matter. Everything was cryovac'ed and they dropped the pre-cooked steak in boiling water to heat them back up.

                                  1. re: jameshig

                                    I didn't realize boiling water could duplicate the same smell of beef burning over a heat source.....the smell my senses pick up whenever I pass the local Outbacks in my area........

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      That smell comes from bags of wood smoke immersed in boiling water, which then rupture releasing the contents. Much more efficient than grilling.

                                      1. re: nsenada

                                        We are getting closer and closer to "Soylent Green".

                                    2. re: jameshig

                                      Interestingly enough, on the few occasions I've been to an Outback, when ordering med-rare, they will tell you it's a warm red center, as opposed to rare, where the center will be red and cold. Pretty precise, and no - I've never had a steak overdone at Outback. Must be their awesome sous-vide method '-D

                                      1. re: jameshig

                                        Could you provide a citation for this claim?

                                        1. re: tommy

                                          Do you view this as a bad thing? If they hire a bunch of kids to cook then I doubt they are going to trust them with steaks. We can only tell our experience that they were "out of medium rare" which we did not understand at the time but later someone told us the steaks are precooked and I guess really well rested '-D. I I was under the impression they still grilled them briefly. They are covered with a heavy pepper seasoning. One of the biggest reasons restaurants use sous-vide is they have a perfectly cooked product and it can sit in the tub all night. This is sort of along those lines when you think about it. Maybe someone can tell us that worked there. I know someone but they are out of the country. I think quite a few places may cook that way and use frozen components to a plate that are MWd.

                                          1. re: wekick

                                            Do I view what as a bad thing? I'm confused. Citations, please.

                                    3. Fine, it’s not like this is the first time in my life I’m dissenting. . . .

                                      Considering the fact that the USDA defines the temperatures for doneness in a considerably different manner that traditionally done so in restaurant/home kitchens, I do not think that using a temperature as an objective reference point for a chef is off base. Like, say colors, the words assigned to doneness are subjective. (You say “wasabi green,” but your sister-in-law insists the wall is “spring meadow.”) I have found this to be true from kitchen to kitchen and especially from region to region. To me a piece of prime beef should be rare at 120, some kitchens will cook rare at about 130 – that’s a considerable difference in color, taste, and texture.

                                      Do I think the temperature must be precise? No, but it can merely be an accurate way to explain your preference to a chef through a server. Anecdotally, I recently order a pork entrée by responding “say, between 140-145,” to the server’s inquiry. I received a great dish, perfectly cooked.

                                      1. Yes, I would call you an a-hole. It sends a message to the chef and others they don't kno0w what their doing. If you can;t help yourselfeat your meat at home. However, if you receive you steak and it is not med-rare, i would say something to the waitstaff.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: sexyLAMBCHOPx

                                          Why is it better to bitch later than be precise initially?

                                        2. According to OP, you're already been doing this: so uh how have the staff been reacting?

                                          1. I have joined the "order it rare" club, and it has been working fine ~~ I hate overcooked and I hate sending it back. I tell them just warm in the center, not cold.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: laliz

                                              The old adage is appropriate here.....Rule #1, Do not piss off the cook, he/she is God on the line. Never ,ever, piss off the cook BEFORE you are served........watch out for those invisible sides on your plate!!!!!!!!!!

                                              1. re: laliz

                                                I'm with you here in cheap or mediocre restaurants. I can deal with a steak that's slightly undercooked a lot better than one that's overcooked. In decent steakhouses I might say 'medium rare, erring on the side of rare.' Hopefully that doesn't make me sound like too much of an asshole. At any high end place (which I rarely go to anyway) I would expect an order of med-rare to come out med-rare every time, so it's not an issue.

                                                Asking for it by a specific temperature is too insulting to be practical. If the OP is pickier than I am and dislikes rare steaks, I don't mind the suggestion to ask for it by color (red, pink, little bit of pink, whatever) in a cheap joint/chain because it might make you seem a bit clueless but is not insulting to staff and helps if their idea of medium rare is different than yours.

                                              2. I wish US steak degree of cooking followed the French nomenclature. Within 10 miles of my home there are steak places that have "rare" that range from "cold blue center" to warm pink, with every degree of red in between. The French names, in translation, are blue, bleeding, on point, and ruined. It is hard to get a saignant (bleeding) (excuse my spelling if the French is off), my preferred doneness, here, except at home. And, yes, I judge doneness at home by touch, but with the back of the fork, not a finger. And, for me, on point (medium) is ruined.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: therealdoctorlew

                                                  Ruined???? It's my understanding it's bleu (very rare = blue), saignant (rare = bleeding), a point (medium) and bien cuit (well done).

                                                  I don't know medium well, but I'd guess it's cuit (since bien cuit is basically very cooked)

                                                  There's no "ruined" there. I won't eat any meat that's not well done. If it's not cooked all the way through I'm not eating it, it tastes nasty to me.

                                                  If other people want to eat it that way, that's fine. I really don't understand why people who like their steak bloody get so hostile to those of us who don't care for it that way. Maybe well done is "ruined" for you, because you can't uncook it, but still bloody is inedible for me.

                                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                    Your French nomenclature is right on. "Ruined", I've never heard of.

                                                    With regarding enjoying steak well-done...you might consider doing what a friend of mine does. After reading Anthony Bourdain's comment about chefs saving the worst cuts of beef for the customer who orders it well-done, my friend always orders his steak medium to medium-well. Then when it is served (usually not done enough) he sends it back to be cooked some more!

                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                      I don't order steak out anymore and I don't cook it at home, so I basically don't eat it anymore. I used to like Filet Mignon but I got tired of paying $30 (that was 20 or 30 years ago, I hate to think what it costs now) for a cut of meat that nearly always came burned to charcoal in revenge for my having ordered it well done. I have literally had cooks come out and argue with me about ordering meat well-done, sorry, but you cook to my taste, not your own. Cook for yourself on your own time!

                                                      Anybody who can't cook a steak - ANY steak, including filet mignon - without burning it to literally crunchiness can't cook steak at all.

                                                      1. re: josephnl

                                                        So not only does your friend have no taste in steak, he's a deliberate jerk about it on top of it. Nice.

                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                          your friend wins the "biggest a-hole i've heard about today" award

                                                        2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                          "Ruined" was a bit of humor. No offense meant to lovers of leather-like proteins.

                                                          Seriously, even on rare steaks there is a bit where the meat is cooked almost crisp, on an end or edge, for instance. I like that part, too, as a sort of garnish, if you will. Now, if you are someone who really prefers that degree of cooking, then well done will provide more pleasure than my preferred rare, well, good for you. I bet you also go for the burnt ends at a bbq joint.

                                                          1. re: therealdoctorlew

                                                            hey, i like my steak on the rare side of med-rare. but burnt ends? yumboski.

                                                            1. re: linguafood


                                                              I also love burnt ends and rarerarerare steak. Go figure.

                                                      2. This could make for interesting orders, "I want my steak cooked to 135, please pull the cake when it's 210, make sure the pasta sticks to the wall, I want my coffee water at 200 degrees before it's made..."

                                                        1. I have learned that it's extremely chancy ordering a steak "medium" or "medium-rare". I have had more luck describing the way I like my steak to look...very pink throughout, but neither red nor "bloody". It doesn't always work, but I think it is better than saying "medium-rare" which not only differs from restaurant to restaurant, but from cook to cook.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                            I'm going to bet that you say that and the server rights "medium" down on the ticket.

                                                          2. James, I feel your pain. I have gotten medium steaks so many times I can't count, Outback included. I prefer my steaks also on the rare side of medium-rare so those are the exact words I use. When they ask "How would you like your steak?" I reply "On the rare side of medium-rare please". (I have a sister-in-law that orders her steak well-done and another sil that orders hers medium-well).

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              Word for word exactly how I order my steak at most places John E.

                                                              However at a high end place, I order what I actually what, which is med-rare (they know what they are doing), and at dodgy places I order rare so I actually get med-rare.

                                                            2. I had dinner at a steak house with friends. The husband had to step out to take a call just after we arrived, so the wife told the waiter she'd be ordering for both of them. She ordered rare and when the waiter asked how her husband (who insists on well-done) would like his steak, she made a disapproving face and replied "ruined". No need for further explanation!

                                                              23 Replies
                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                I remember reading Bourdain's book several years ago. He said the kitchens he worked in kept some crappy cuts of steak, end pieces with gristle or something just as vile, and save them for when somebody orders a well-done steak because they won't be able to tell the difference anyway. I truly believe that those that order their steak well-done really don't like steak. They won't say so, but that's the only explanation I can come up with.

                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  Maybe they don't like steak because unscrupulous cheating so-called chef's feed them gristly vile cuts of meat.

                                                                  I like Filet Mignon but I don't like any pink anywhere. It is possible to actually cook it (as opposed to leaving it partially raw) without drying it out or burning it to a crisp, because I have, on rare occasions, had it that way.

                                                                  Just because you like your meat cooked doesn't mean you don't really like meat. What a thought!

                                                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                    Zen........Stick with a fine braise, You would be eating a much more flavorful piece of meat.

                                                                    1. re: ospreycove

                                                                      I guess it depends on the flavors you prefer. I can't see substituting a pot roast for filet mignon, myself.

                                                                      I like filet mignon because it is nowhere near as fatty as other cuts of beef, plus it's still tender. If I had access to beefalo, I might like other cuts as well, since beefalo is a lot leaner than American style beef. I just don't like a fatty piece of meat, especially the way Americans like it, eg "well-marbled". That makes it impossible to remove the fat because it's shot through the meat like the veins in bleu cheese.

                                                                      Fat tastes YUCK to me.

                                                                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                        Zen....Yes, the hallmark of American Steakdom is the fat. and as many will say, fat transmits flavor. Sometimes a thinner piece of filet will cook through and still retain some juicyness and be tender. The only problem I have seen with cooking a filet to WD is a slight livery taste seems to come through. It does not happen all the time, I guess it depends on the cow/breed/feed/ etc.

                                                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                                                          I've never experienced a "livery" flavor. And I'm pretty sure I would recognize it, since I can't eat liver at all. It makes me gag.

                                                                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                            Maybe I am overly sensitive, but it is a cross between livery "notes" ( don't you just cringe at that word), and a taste of iron. Geeez now I have lost my craving for beef.....poor description, forget it it must be my distorted imagination, again!!!

                                                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                                                              Yeah, I characterize it as a cat food taste. Probably iron. Not very appetizing. I guess most people can't taste what I taste, though.

                                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                                              Read the article, read the comments, it really boils down to a matter of taste.

                                                                              Meaning, what seems good to one person makes it to that person's taste. What seems good to another, even when unlike the first person, makes it to THAT person's taste.

                                                                              The fact that there's a difference doesn't make one right and one wrong. Only different.

                                                                              Fat, to me, is nasty. To most Americans, it's delicious. Fine. I'm not on a crusade to change other people's taste. But I would like to be able to order food in a restaurant that is cooked to MY taste without having it burned, or refused, or belittled. While people who like their steak well done are a minority in America, we are a large minority. Well-done isn't really all THAT outre!

                                                                              I particularly liked the points made by the last commenter on that article, about changes in the meat packing industry. There really has been a huge shift in the way meat is not only raised, but also packaged and handled for resale.

                                                                              From the FDA's website:

                                                                              "Leaner Beef Contains More Water
                                                                              Hotline callers sometimes comment that today's beef contains more water and also doesn't taste the same as in the past. One reason for this is that today's animals are bred to be leaner. Meat from these animals is naturally leaner and contains more water. The fat in meat contributes to flavor, so a leaner cut will taste different than a fattier cut. Some of these leaner cuts are enhanced with a flavor solution."

                                                                              This totally sidesteps the real issue, which is that meat today DOES contain significantly more water and tastes different because of feedlot and slaughter practices which have changed drastically. Read that guy's comment, it sums up some of the most important changes pretty well. As for the contention that they are breeding for a "leaner cut of beef" these days, that may be true compared to 10 years ago, but that "leaner cut of beef" from commercial (not local) suppliers is only in comparison to the super-fat beef we have today.

                                                                              Oh yeah, and that part about meat being "enhanced with a flavor solution"?

                                                                              We used to call that adulteration.

                                                                      2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                        I would bet that the Bourdain quote was him being him. I'm sure that really doesn't happen too often in restaurants. There used to be a steakhouse near where I grew up that actually refused to cook steaks well-done. They encouraged those that like their steak well-done to order something else.

                                                                        I don't think beef tenderloin can be cooked well-done wtihout being dry. There's no fat and well-done cooks all the moisture out of it.

                                                                        I don't eat steak tartare and I don't consider medium rare steak to be uncooked.

                                                                        Everybody has their own tastes. It doesn't matter to me how you order your steak cooked.

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          I personally like steak cooked medium to medium-rare. Nevertheless I think it's the height of arrogance for a restaurant to refuse to cook a steak well-done if that's what the customer wants. I can accept that a restaurant will decline responsibility for a well-done steak, but I wouldn't go to a restaurant where a well-done order is refused.

                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                            Yea, but that's the way the guy was. He finally died and his son took over and basically has the policy you suggest.

                                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                                              Acknowledging that I am continuing to divert this thread from it's intended topic, I cannot help but ask, Why shouldn't a kitchen/chef be allowed to refuse any type of preparation? She's not your employee and if she has reached a level of professional stature where she does not need to "foul" a plate in order to indulge the whim of a particular diner than more power to her. Would it be different if a place refused to serve steak sauce? ketchup?

                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                you are not an employer, you re something even more important to a service business - a customer.

                                                                              2. re: josephnl

                                                                                I agree.
                                                                                No, the chef is not my employee, but I am paying with my money. I should be pleased with my purchase.
                                                                                Any service provider should aim to please their clients.
                                                                                It reminds me of a visit from family. My brother came to visit us and I wanted to do a good old steak on the grill meal. I bought strip steaks from Costco, knowing full well that Mr. MV was going to cook the ever-living shit out of them to well done. That's how they like it.
                                                                                It pleased me to please them. They loved the meal.
                                                                                How a chef's idea of the perfect steak doness has anything to do with me-is beyond me.
                                                                                There's no "I" in customer.

                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                  I agree it might be considered a little out of line for a chef to refuse to cook a steak well-done, but if he's the owner of the establishment, he has that right.

                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                    Making people happy is certainly a noble pursuit. Nevertheless, a professional should be allowed the right to refuse a course of action regardless of what the client requests. In fact, the right to simply deny to serve anyone seeking service (not based upon certain restrictions of race, creed, sex, etc.) should be retained by a professional in order to protect himself. I suggest the notion that a chef may elect to approach his craft as profession. (There is also no "i" in a**hole . . .).

                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                      I completely agree!!!

                                                                                      The first restaurant I worked at, the exec spent alot of effort and time in coming up with menus. Because so much effort was put into it, he wouldn't substitute unless it was for an allergy.

                                                                                      I agree with this wholeheartedly. If an exec pairs something with something else, there's probably a reason. I wouldn't drink maddog 20/20 with foie gras.

                                                                                      1. re: jameshig

                                                                                        Nevertheless, a business owner has a responsibility to his employees as well as to himself or any investors, to keep his business as profitable as possible (without of course doing anything illegal or unethical). I am quite sure that waitstaff do not benefit from unhappy customers. Having myself been a business owner, I can tell you that pleasing customers is very high on the list of things to do to have a successful business...and yes, swallowing pride often takes precedence over upsetting customers.

                                                                                  2. re: josephnl

                                                                                    I've worked at places (and dined at others) where it stated specifically on the menu "We are not responsible for the tenderness of well done steaks".

                                                                              3. re: John E.

                                                                                I generally order my steaks rare, especially T-bones and porterhouses, but there are some cuts I actually prefer cooked through with no pinkness. In particular, I love the end of a prime rib roast (technically not a "steak," I guess), and for lower-grade ribeye steaks, I prefer well done. There's something about that cut when the exterior is actually crunchy, and the fillet part gets very tender and stringy that is much more satisfiying to me than when it is cooked rare or even medium. All this is making me want to dust off that Roland Barthes essay on Steak and Chips. A little post-structuralist blather will no doubt shed some light on the matter.

                                                                                1. re: nsenada

                                                                                  I like the end cut of a prime rib too. I was at a rehearsal dinner once and asked for the end cut. Everyone got the traditional cut and they brought me a 3 lb "roast". It was a little embarrassing.

                                                                            2. What bad cuts of meat should not be cooked perfectly?

                                                                              1. I think if you request a steak by temp you're asking for a side of loogie, IMO.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: twj

                                                                                  In the 5 restaurants I've worked at, which isn't that many, I've never seen/heard from other cooks about doing anything to food.

                                                                                  The worst I ever saw was when a piece of tuna was sent back twice because it wasn't cooked enough, we dropped it in the fryer for a minute. It was cooked enough when it went out after that.

                                                                                  1. re: jameshig

                                                                                    tuna dropped in a fryer? I hope it was Tempura.

                                                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                                                      No, it was a beautiful piece of yellowfin I had cut that morning during prep time. We were so excited about it, a piece of the belly "fell" on the floor and had to be eaten right away by my sous chef and I and it was GORGEOUS. So much so that I still remember it.

                                                                                      Our servers that day were given a plate to try and were asked to make it clear to the customers that it was seared and served raw. The customer ordered it medium well and was told specifically that it wouldn't be cooked that way. She was then asked if she would like something else. "No, I want the tuna medium well." We cooked it medium well for her, which it was- cooked all the way through, with just a little pink on the outside (I even used my thermometer to test the temperature, yes I do remember this).

                                                                                      It was sent out, and 10 minutes later came back with "it's still too rare." I put it back in a pan and cooked it for another 5 minutes or so, replated it with new veg and starch and sent it back out thinking, this has to be the end of this one. 5 minutes later it came back. I took the biggest part and dropped it in the fryer for another 3 or 4 minutes and sent it back out with new veg and starch.

                                                                                      The restaurant ended up comping her a bottle of wine, the dinner, and a dessert. My thought on this particular situation was that she was a cranky woman that wouldn't have been pleased with anything we sent out.

                                                                                      In my 7 years in restaurants, this, and my sous and exec doing lines of coke off the cutting boards during service, was the worst I saw in terms of mishandling food.

                                                                                2. 'I have just started to ask for my steak by temperature instead of rare/medium rare. Am I a douche for doing so'

                                                                                  Yes, 100 percent.

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                                    Well, I actually haven't started asking this way, it's just been in my head the past 2 times I've ordered a steak out. My wife and I go out maybe once every couple of weeks, and I get a steak maybe every 3 or 4 times we are out, so maybe 4 or 5 steaks out a year.

                                                                                    1. re: jameshig

                                                                                      Well there is a pretty big difference about thinking about doing something and actually doing it..... since you havent done it and bearing in mind that I dont know anything else about you, I dont think you have to worry about people thinking you are a douche lol

                                                                                      1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                                        Oh, I don't care, I'm an ass, I'm alright with that. I was just curious as to what chowhound thought about this and how to stop wondering every time I cut into a steak when I order one out how it will be cooked.

                                                                                      2. re: jameshig

                                                                                        jameshig...you are obviously a chef...so I'd welcome your opinion. Since various cooks/chefs may differ in what they consider medium, rare, etc., I usually describe the way I want my steak to look..."very pink throughout, but not red or bloody". Do you think this makes sense...does it help chefs, or confuse them?

                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                          Ha, you know the servers at all the restaurants I worked at (in my younger days) would just write something like steak- rare, mid-rare, mid, mid-well, or well on the tickets. But if I saw a ticket that came back that said steak- 130, I'd cook it to 125 and pull it off.

                                                                                          I think that if you told that to a server, they'd probably just write down their own interpretation of that on the ticket. In this case, mid-rare.

                                                                                          Any other cooks out there want to weigh in?

                                                                                        2. re: jameshig

                                                                                          You are now contradicting the first sentence of your original post.

                                                                                      3. Here's neat guide on how to figure out the doneness of your steak by "feel"

                                                                                        1. I was looking for statistics on how people liked their steaks done. Only reliable study I found was out of Australia. Out of 3554 people surveyed, the average preferred their steaks cooked medium.
                                                                                          "A total of 30% of consumers considered they did not receive their steaks cooked to their ordered degree of doneness."


                                                                                          1. If you feel the need to ask, then the answer is "yes, you are".

                                                                                            I recently was having a perfectly nice dinner in a restaurant in NYC that first cooks its steaks sous vide and then grills the meat. The chef prepares all of the steaks medium rare, and since I've had this steak a few times, I can vouch that the meat is medium rare (yes, I like steak that much that I do know what medium rare steak looks like). At the next table was a mother and teenaged daughter who ordered the steak. The mother asked for medium rare, and the waitperson confirmed that all of the steaks are cooked medium rare. The steak was served, and the mother started complaining first to the waitperson that the steak was cooked medium (not medium rare). From sitting next to these people even I could see that the steak was properly medium rare. Well, this mother would not be satisfied; she demanded to see the manager to take her complaints further. The manager (patiently) explained that the all of the steaks are grilled to medium rare, but if they wanted another steak he would have another prepared. The mother complained that they were in a rush, and couldn't wait for another steak, but continued to scold the manager that his restaurant didn't know how to cook a steak properly. I felt that telling her that she was a jerk and to stop being a pain (but I decided to keep quiet). I felt bad for the waitperson and manager and left an extra large tip--don't know why except I hate when service staff are mistreated for no good reason.

                                                                                            Please don't be a jerk like the mother in the above story.

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: ellenost

                                                                                              Wow, a super bitchy NY restaurant patron. I've heard of such specimens, but to have actually seen one . . .

                                                                                              Seriously though, your tale illustrates the underlying justification for the intial inquiry - words are imprecise, subject to interpretation. The same is not true of measurements.

                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                I saw another example of it the week prior at Eleven Madison Park (I also left a larger tip at EMP because I felt bad for the waitperson who had taken such great care of my table). After I saw 2 examples of unnecessary rude behavior to waitstaff, I'll make sure that I never treat a waitperson so poorly (I don't think I ever have in the past, but I'll make doubly sure I don't ever do this myself).

                                                                                              2. re: ellenost

                                                                                                If the steaks are cooked sous vide to medium rare and then grilled, they are probably closer to medium when they are rested and served. This situation was mentioned by Tom Colicchio on Top Chef on more than one episode of Top Chef.

                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                  I cannot tell you to what "doneness" the steak was cooked using the sous vide method. I can tell you that the steak, as presented on the plate, was medium-rare (just the way I like it myself!).

                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                    That's likely not true. When you finish/grill a sous-vide protein, you are usually supposed to let it rest first. The temperature of the center should not be any higher than the sous-vide bath temp even after grilling, unless this was the intended result.
                                                                                                    There's a great chart on this page of how resting and searing affects internal temp for sous vide cooking:

                                                                                                    In the Top Chef clip, Tom Colicchio was either wrong, or referring more specifically to a piece of meat that was not rested long enough before searing or too thin for the method used.