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Aug 7, 2011 07:21 PM

Sending back steak?

I like my food to be served very hot. I can accept food that is served very warm. I do not like food that is served lukewarm or cold. Here is my problem. I always order steak medium-rare. In really good steakhouses, they tend to slightly undercook steak, serve it on a very hot plate, and it arrives at the table just perfect. Unfortunately at restaurants that do not specialize in steak, I often find myself served a steak that is cooked correctly, but is put on a cold plate, and is thus lukewarm when it is brought to the table. Then I'm faced with a dilemma! If I accept the steak as is, I really don't enjoy it because after one or two bites it is completely cold...and if I complain and say that it is not hot when served, it invariably comes back overcooked (because it is not replaced, but is put under a salamander to heat, and becomes well done in a minute). How do others handle this situation?

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  1. Based on my experience, it's best not to order steak in restaurants that don't specialize in steak. I know it's an imperfect solution, but I prefer to limit my steak orders to restaurants where I know I will get quality meat, cooked to (my preference) mediium-rare perfection. I've had too many poor steak experiences at non-steakhouses - I now prefer chicken or pasta dishes at 'those' restaurants.

    1. You could request a hot plate, but medium rare is an internal temp of 135-140F, which is quite warm but not hot enough to be steaming. I understand that 'completely cold' may not be enjoyable, but are you sure wanting mid-rare steak to stay both medium rare and 'very hot' to 'very warm' throughout the meal is a reasonable expectation? I never order steak, but I know immediately if i cut into a piece of fish and it is steaming in the middle that it is over cooked.

      1. Here's how I handle it: if I want a good steak prepared and served the way I want it, I pay for it in a good steak restaurant where I expect it. I don't expect it or demand it in other places. Also, as someone else already pointed out, a medium rare steak is not going to be hot and medium rare at the same time. No wonder you're disappointed.

        4 Replies
          1. re: DPGood

            I never have a problem getting a hot medium-rare steak at a good steakhouse. True, the center may not be very hot, but the surface is sizzling even at chain steakhouses such as Ruth's Chris, Morton's, Fleming's and Mastro's. They all tend to undercook steak and serve it on seriously hot plates/platters and it's very hot when it reaches the table.

            1. re: josephnl

              I remember once ordering a medium rare steak at a Texas themed restaurant (not Texas Roadhouse) and it came on a red hot cast iron plate/skillet and by the time it got to me it was medium well to well done. If I know a restaurant does this sort of plating I would request a regular plate that has been slightly warmed. I hate it when my med rare steak come medium or more. So fae, I've never sent one back but I might the next time it happens.(The problem I have is that too many members of my family prefer their steak medium so they would voice their opinion that I should just eat it the way it is because it is cooked just fine instead of being difficult and sending it back. How's that for a poorly written sentence?)

            2. re: DPGood

              Yup. I like my steaks rare and rarely have one I considered to be hot. Even at Ruth's Chris where the centre was actually refrigerator cold the one time I went there, not impressed at $50 for the meat w/o any sides. But lukewarm is fine, hot is possible but not likely most of the time.

            3. I have decided to more flexible about what I consider a perfectly cooked steak---and that is not only at restaurants but within the homes of friends and my own house. I am not saying this to be critical, but just to say that there are much more important things then getting a steak at the perfect doneness, pertect temp. I write this having just come back from a dinner with friends who were dealing with various situations involving family members--we had a grilled tri tip steak and the doneness of the meat was of little concern in comparison to the company.

              5 Replies
              1. re: escondido123

                Sure, I'll give a restaurant a bit of slack in the way a steak is cooked...but, if I'm paying $50-55 for a medium-rare bone-in ribeye, and it's served to me cold...or even worse, well-done, I'm not a happy camper.

                1. re: josephnl

                  Since I no longer have that kind of money to spend, when I go out to eat I look for the least expensive entrees with the most flexibility in cooking temps. That way I get to spend time with friends and a great evening out at a great restaurant that I can afford to go to.

                  1. re: josephnl

                    I wouldn't pay $50-55 for a steak at a place that doesn't specialize in steak. Too much chance they'll mess it up. Go with their specialty.

                    1. re: ricepad

                      I had a seriously overcooked $70 or $80 wagyu steak served to me at CUT, Beverly Hills. I don't wan't to get into the details here (it's posted elsewhere on CH), but the restaurant handled it terribly. Sure, I will not spend $50+ for a steak anywhere but at a good steakhouse, but still it's no guarantee that all will be well.

                      1. re: josephnl

                        At those prices, you deserved much better treatment--for sure!

                2. I don't typically send it back unless it's well done, which to me is just not edible. I do manage to get my medium rare - medium steaks quite warm, so I know where you are coming from. It is possible. However, I can't help but think that a hot plate is an unreliable way for a chef to ensure that the diner is going to get their steak served at the temp they would like. Better to have a warm plate... warm enough to maintain temp, but to not actually cook the food, and rely on known carry-over cooking to ensure the meat is at the right temp when served. Also, I am a slow eater, so my steak is almost always cool when I get to the end of it... if I get to the end of it... so perhaps I'm just not as discerning when it comes to steaks and temperature.