Last year we talked about how a great steak is as fashionable as ever. This year, we have seen the evolution of beef being reclassified if you will by those who judge what is considered healthy. Beef in moderation is now considered to be healthy.
Once again in 2018, with the opening of a Bobby Vans in the city last year and Wolfgang Puck bringing his CUT steakhouse to NYC; high-end steakhouses continue to grow in the Tri-State area. No matter how accomplished a home cook is, a great steak is still a challenge. The chances of having a commercial grade broiler or grill that can generate the intense heat necessary to replicate the steak at a high-end steakhouse makes it virtually impossible.
Our BHS/H. Weiss team works with customers from iconic Manhattan steakhouses to country clubs and caterers on designing a signature table top for their repositioning of beef on their menus. It gave us some really interesting insight into the re-emergence of the steak on Metro New York’s menus.
We find in working with our H. Weiss/BHS customers that the 60’s look of a slab of beef on a white plate with dried up juices simply doesn’t cut it today. Traditional cuts like Prime Rib have vanished. There are a number of options today from attractive plates to wood boards and even stone. In many cases, we see the return of the waitstaff doing the slicing at the table and supplemented with a beautiful array of sauces that showcases your chef’s talent.
What has changed dramatically with that is how it is served. In many cases, beef is now served as a dish to be shared. With that comes a new approach to how it is served and that begins with the wide diversity of side dishes led by local vegetables served with that special cut of grass fed or local beef. We suggest a smaller 9“ share plate.
Choice of sauces where the chef can be inventive, now have nice ways of serving them. The BHS/H. Weiss tabletop team has been suggesting the use of copper or stainless steel pots with sauce presented at the table. We also like the look that can be created with double or triple ramekins and even a glass pitcher. It’s interesting; we are seeing more steaks shared than ever before.
Today’s sides include a healthier selection. We suggest a fresh new approach to serving sides this year. We have our chef and restaurant customers using matte finished bowls like Geode from Cardinal or Steelite – which offers several matte colors including beige, gray and black. We also have our eye on some of the wonderful organic shaped small bowls from Libbey. Today’s sides are often served in tandem with the standards like creamed spinach and fully dressed potato – which is still the star. How about this creative approach: use an oval bowl with the opened potato served with a tray of toppings – almost like a make your own sundae.
Good bold wines have always been a part of the great steak experience. Why not think about recreating the ceremony of decanting wines – even if it is just a single serving decanter. At one of our NYC projects we also paid special attention to the salt and pepper mills. We were able to complete the look with a pewter finish. We also suggest colorful lacquer, or a good quality clean acrylic mill – with a matching salt mill. Pink or gray salt is a great way to add some color and a special feel. Simple linen or muslin bags for crusty bread complete the table.
With this new approach to the health(ier) acceptance and serving of beef has come a new approach to the steak knife. Chunky knives have been replaced by a thinner more elegant look. We have been moving our customers to wood striped handle knives from Cardinal or Steelite’s French knives.
Keep in mind that the better the knife— the better it makes the steak look.
It is a mistake to go cheap with steak knives because of the cost of continually having to replace them. The sharper the knife, the easier it cuts and with that comes the perception of a better piece (more expensive) cut of beef… aka your signature.
We also work with our customers to balance the size of the knife with the proper selection of a fork. Big oversized European forks do not go with thinner elegant knives. We also suggest thinking about putting out an extra plate so that serving utensils have a place to go. There is no reason for a spoon being used to serve a side or a sauce to have to be placed on a table cloth.
As you look at designing a beef-centric flatware strategy, think heavier not bigger. We suggest extruded patterns for many of our customers which sit nicely in the hand and look thinner side to side but they are nice and heavy.
A final thought— If you are going to the expense of buying signature cuts from a branded purveyor like Pat LaFrieda, DeBragga or New York Prime, then why not make sure that you let your dining patrons know that with a note on the menu? It will enable you to pass some of that added cost to a happy guest.