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Aug 30, 2010 06:22 PM

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, 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 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. 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.