Modern Meateries

whole cowThe archetypical steakhouse is making way for "the younger, more gastronomically aware customers who drive the restaurant business," reports Joshua Ozersky in The Wall Street Journal (1/2/14). The traditional steakhouse, "with its windowless rooms, blackened slabs of aged beef and phoned-in side dishes" hasn’t really changed much since "the first Grover Cleveland administration." It is "looked at by its proprietors more or less as a feeding pen, and its customers as bags for putting meat and liquor into. It’s an overwhelmingly masculine place."

The "modern meatery," by comparison, knows no particular format, "has no gender to speak of, and it has no conventions to obey. It might even contain, as in Laurelhurst Market, a working retail butcher counter." Where the traditional steakhouses typically offer "three choices: strip steak, ribeye and tenderloin," the new ones use "every part of the animal, from snout to tail, frequently including parts from the inside, too. And then there’s this: The steakhouse has a guy who throws steaks under a broiler; the meatery has a chef."

The presentation can also be unusual: "At M. Wells, you can order a teetering stack of pork chops or a burger with a long bone protruding theatrically and not a little surreally from its center." The price-points are lower, given that guests "don’t mind eating cheek, or skirt or flatiron steak at half the cost of ribeye." "I want it to be approachable, affordable and casual – not some cavernous man-cave where you have to spend $1,000 for four people," says John Tesar, who is currently working "on a steakhouse concept for a major restaurant group and plans to stress game … and other unappreciated meats."

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