Steak lore says steelworkers used to throw raw meat on sheets of scorching metal for lunch. If you like a crispy coating, such flash-searing traps the juices inside a nicely charred exterior. “Pittsburgh rare” — a.k.a. “black and blue” — is most common, but it can be cooked to any temp you like.
Prime rib lovers, pay attention. Restaurants offering this classic dish will slice your cooked roast into paper-thin strips (instead of the heftier cuts that come standard) if you request it. British accent optional.
Know Your … Classics
William Douglas Steakhouse
A certain degree of tipsiness will take the sting out of a steakhouse’s steep tab, but most steakhouses don’t bother to mix anything better than a passable vodka martini. Not so Cherry Hill’s William Douglas, where you’ll find house-infused liquors and freshly squeezed juices. The handsome mahogany-hued bar is just right for a pre-dinner sidecar made the right way, with brandy, Cointreau and bracing fresh lemon.
The Capital Grille
Legendary diner James Beard once praised iceberg lettuce for this culinary achievement: It keeps longer than other lettuces. But steakhouses long ago discovered the ideal use for this barely-a-vegetable — the wedge salad. And the Capital Grille does it right, covering a crisp, cold mountain of iceberg in rich, chunky blue cheese dressing dotted with crisp bacon, the perfect counterbalance to the meat to follow.
Smith & Wollensky
Crisp, garlicky and blissfully simple, the slender green beans sautéed in oil at Smith & Wollensky are not only a welcome switch from the same-old, same-old asparagus-and-hollandaise routine, but they represent the real steakhouse ethos: uncomplicated food, cooked well, for a meal that’s just a little more special than usual.
It sounds so low-rent, so workaday — potato skins — but Barclay Prime turns the beer-bar staple into the ultimate in steakhouse potatoes. Topped with a healthy slather of truffle butter and truffle cheese and oven-roasted to crisp-skinned, soft-centered perfection, the Barclay potato-skin side is the most decadent use of the humble root veggie you’ve ever seen.
The Prime Rib
Retro clams casino remain a steakhouse staple decades after the dish’s 1950s heyday. So it’s not surprising that the Prime Rib, with its proudly vintage vibe, serves the best in town. Here, huge, sweet clams are chopped, combined with a generous amount of bacon, and returned to their shells before being broiled to a garlic-scented crisp.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
It’s as much a steakhouse requirement as the steaks themselves: the gushy-centered chocolate cake you crave with the last sips of cabernet. The brilliance of Fleming’s version of chocolate lava cake lies in the sheer amount of smooth, liquid chocolate that flows when the delicate cake is punctured — and the fresh whipped cream served alongside.