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Best steak knives for about $100?

I'm looking for a set of steak knives as a gift. It can be a pair, four, or six, as long as it's around $100. I'm only somewhat familiar with the variations in quality associated with the Laguiole name and am wary of spending too much for one of the not-so-good products. I know the recipient likes the idea of the Laguiole name, but it really doesn't HAVE to be Laguiole. The best quality for the price is most important.

If you had $100 to spend on steak knives, what would you get? Is something like this from Williams-Sonoma worth it or would I be paying for the name and the typical W-S markup?

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

Or would it be a better value to just get a set of six like these?

http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-Stra...

Or something else entirely? Thanks very much in advance.

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  1. I know some CHers like the Victorinox but just fyi, I got a set of the steak knives you linked to above, and found them not so nice from an aesthetic perspective. The tang protruded above the wood handle (i.e.,weren't flush), the wood wasn't finished that well, etc.

    But I have no doubt the knives cut well and are functional.

    1. Laguiole has a good reputation in styles and beauty. I really don't know much about steak knives. The only thing I want to point out is that many people actually do not like serrated steak knives -- not for home use anyway. The Laguiole ones you have shown are serrated.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Non-serrated knife will have superior performance.

        But, steak places use serrated knives because they're going to stay sharper longer than non-serrated knives given the conditions you're using them under- where you're using and cutting steak on a plate which is one of the worst things you can do to a knife.

        You wouldn't think to use a expensive Shun knife to cut exclusively on a plate, and yet that's what will happen to those steak knives. That's why as much as I'd love a Shun chef's knife, I'd never get Shun steak knives.

        Unless you know they're going to be inclined to keep the knives sharp and there's only so much you can do after all that damage to the knife, maybe a serrated knife might be the better choice despite their less than optimal performance.

      2. I have these economy range Laguioles here in the UK and they're great:

        http://www.johnlewis.com/230514898/Pr...

        Like Chem says, serrations would not have been my choice, but they were a gift and these are micro-serrations which work just fine. At about $50 for six we had no issues buying some extras and we now have a dozen knives and a dozen forks in these bright jewel colours. We mis-match the colours round the table for casual dining or stand them in a pot on the BBQ table.

        1. Laguiole is not a specific make, but a village in France that is known for the steel cutlery made there. There is a very wide range in the quality of cutlery which can use the Laguiole name. I'd bet if you looked around you could find some Laguiole knives for under $10, while others could cost 10x as much. Therefore, if you opt for Laguiole steak knives, be sure to buy them from a very reputable store. For me, I would probably opt for a well known brand such as Global, Henckel, etc.

          1. I agree with others here: avoid any serrated knife set for steaks. I personally find them unusable (but perhaps micro-serrated is not so bad--I've not tried that).

            3 Replies
            1. re: Bada Bing

              I'm not sure that all serrated steak knives need to be avoided. I have owned a set of Case serrated steak knives for at least 25 years, they have been used hundreds of times and still cut through the toughest steak as though it were butter. I always hand wash them and store them in their wooden box. They will still be doing what they were designed to do well after I'm gone. They are still available, although sans the wooden case, for about $90...see: http://www.knifecenter.com/kc_new/sto...

              Nevertheless, if I were buying steak knives today, I would probably buy those made by Global, primarily because I like the look of them. Unlike the Case knives which never need sharpening, the Globals would need to be run through my MinoSharp from time to time.

              1. re: Bada Bing

                I have straight edge knives that I keep very sharp and bust out on special occasions for guests I want to impress. Really sharp straight edge knives can actually seem to enhance a steak. But for normal usage, I keep cheap serrated steak knives.

                Frankly, I don't think straight edge steak knives make a particularly good gift unless the intended recipient has already expressed interest in such a thing. The problem - ceramic plates are awful for a knife edge. We're talking sharpening every other use or so to get any significant cutting benefit over serrated steak knives. After a little while without sharpening, they'll work significantly worse than a serrated edge treated the same way. If you don't know whether the person receiving the knives can or will sharpen them regularly, I would just play it safe with a serrated set.

                1. re: Bada Bing

                  In a lot of ways, micro-serrated steak knives are the worst of both worlds.

                  Unlike a serrated knife, they can't stand the abuse of cutting on a ceramic plate and will dull almost as quickly as a straight edge. Yet, you can't re-sharpen mico-serrated steak knives like you could with a straight edge steak knife.

                  Somebody else linked to some rosewood forschner steak knives and Cook's Illustrated selected these as their favorite, but they'll dull quickly with that straight edge. When Cook's Illustrated redoes their steak knife testing, they'll pick another winner. For personal use at home, I'd go with something more like these forschner knives:

                  http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-4879...

                  They won't win any beauty prizes, but they won't dull with those serrated edges and thus remain sharp and functional.

                2. This is what America's Test Kitchen recommends:
                  http://www.cutleryandmore.com/chicago...

                  I got a beautiful set of Henkel's micro-serrated several years ago, before knowing that they shred steaks. AVOID!
                  (they did come in a beautiful wood box, however)

                  1. I think hobbess bought up a good point here. In a previous post, many people stated their preference for straight edge steak knives (i.e.: they hate serrated steak knives). Yet, if I remember correctly, these people are very skilled to fairly skilled at sharpening their own knives.
                    The advantages of straight edge steak knives are that they can be sharpened to last a long time, and they slice into foods as opposed to sawing/shredding the foods -- just imagine what will would have happened if a serrated bread knife is used to carve a turkey.
                    The advantages of serrated edge steak knives are that they the serrated pointed crest protect the rest of the blade, so only the crest get dull. This allows the serrated knives to maintain their performance for a long time.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Agree, Chem, that aggressive, saw-like serrations are no use for anything. However, whilst I appreciate that they might not suit everyone, the micros on my cheap Laguioles work perfectly and have done for years. No tearing, pulling or shredding, no matter how rare the meat. The OP was looking for some Laguiole feedback, and, as an owner, I can see no reason to discourage them.

                      I find that gentle wavy serrations on other knives I have can also be excellent e.g. for carving a rare rib roast. Please drop in for a steak if you are ever in the UK!

                      1. re: Robin Joy

                        Since the economical Laguioles knives work well, I can only assume the more expensive ones should be just as good if not better (usually the case, but there are exceptions).

                        Yes, you are correct. There are the serrated knives with huge teeth and those with much finer and gentler waves. Not all serrated knives are the same.

                        1. re: Robin Joy

                          The knives that josephni recommends a bit higher up the list seem to exemplify the usable middle ground: the blades are really more parabolic than serrated (etymology of serrated involves the idea of sawing).

                          1. re: Bada Bing

                            You are absolutely correct. The Case knives that I referred to above do not have fine teeth. The edge would best be described as scalloped. They cut through any steak beautifully without any shredding whatsoever, and have done so for very many years!

                      2. I have some really nice straight edge Laguiole and love them, but if I were to get a cheaper set, I would probably try Mundial steak knives. I think they are Brazilian.

                        http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&n...

                        There aren't a lot of reviews, but the handful that are on Amazon are very positive. And btw, I just saw on Gilt Groupe today (that lux sale site) that Mundial steak knives are on sale.

                        This set: http://www.amazon.com/Mundial-Olivier...

                        Is $129 w/o shipping and looks pretty nice. All of the other steak knives are also significantly cheaper than on Amazon right now. I am not sure how long the sale lasts though. I owe a set as a gift, so I think I am going to get the one above.

                          1. I respect all the great knives mentioned in this thread. I have a Sabatier chef that I love, and a number of other fine knives. But... I have had a set of Cutco steak knives for decades, and they are epic, IMHO. They are small, unassuming, with a small serrrated edge. They cut all steak like BUTTAH! For years and years. Best steak cut I've every seem in my life. I have seen and used other Cutcos, and most I would not own. But these knives. Life freaking surgical scalpels. Try em before you knock em.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: woodburner

                              I've tried them. My mother got a set when I was a teenager. They were the first sharp kitchen knives I had ever used. Honestly, they're decent quality serrated steak knives. They come nice and sharp. Average edge retention for pricey western serrated knives. Better than a lot of the junk at Walmart, etc. Nothing special beyond that.

                              Problem is the price. A 6 piece set of forschner serrated steak knives is $30, and i would consider them completely on par with Cutco, quality wise (for steak knives anyway - forschner's straight edge knives are waay better than Cutco's straight edge offerings). I might be mistaken, but I think Cutco steak knives cost more than that individually. Cutcos do have a nice warranty and free sharpening, but IMO that's still doesn't justify the price tag when you consider the alternatives.

                            2. We got a set of these cheapie Heckels over 20 years ago. They get a lot of use and they look brand new and cut as well as they day we got them. They go in the dishwasher with everything else. They also go nicely with our Allessi Dry cutlery. $30 for eight. Hard to beat.

                              http://www.amazon.com/Piece-Stainless...

                              Here are some reviews:
                              http://www.google.com/products/catalo...

                              Honestly, they look and perform like they cost 4x as much. I like A) a beautifully set table and B) knives that cut well and these work on both fronts despite their ridiculous price.

                              1. Remember there are Laguiole and there are Laguiole. IIRC, the ones sold at WS are on the bottom level as are most sold in this country. If you grab the blade and try bending it for flexibility against the handle, there should be no movement. most wobble and are very cheaply made. A good, not fussy, set of 6 in France costs between 130 euros and 180 euros and last forever. My set with superb wood handles ( love wood )cost $ 200 about 15 years ago , bought in Aurillac near Lagiole. It is still perfect, but l cannot use it as my ex-wife wanted to keep them so they reside with her.

                                1. These from Ace look nice if you keep the handles oiled, cut well, and are cheap. I have had a dozen for about ten years and like them. Performance wise the are on a par with Cutco in my experience.