Do very nice steakhouses actually have temps like "med. rare plus"?

Hi, there. I’ve worked in Steakhouses either as cook or waiter for a few years now, but never in any sort of super high end restaurant. The most expensive place sells a N.Y. Strips for about $26 or so. A common theme between these restaurants has always a collective eye-rolling about customers who insist on exactly how their steak should be, whether they confidently declare “medium rare plus” or “medium well, on the medium side.” Waiters assure them that “not a problem”, then ring it up for medium rare, medium, etc, just like everyone else. Computers where we turn in the order don’t have a button for “medium rare plus.” Telling the grill cook about how they want it “pink, not bloody, with some char on the outside, and a teensy bit red” is generally considered a waste of his or her time.

So, in nicer restaurants, do they actually pay attention to things like this? The way these people order, it would be a difference of maybe two or three degrees, and you simply aren’t going to get that kind of accuracy from most cooks without puncturing the meat with a temperature probe.

I’ve been to several places where steaks are the centerpiece of the meal (Daniel’s in Seattle, Ruth’s Chris in San Antonio, and another place called Jax in Sammammish) and I have never heard of these options.

You mean all these years I’ve been ordering “medium rare, on the rare side, please,” the waitstaff has been ignoring me? :eek: Hmm, I suppose they’re right, since I believed I was getting what I’d ordered (and wasn’t apparently), and it seems I don’t have taste enough to know the difference.

Yeah. Don’t feel bad, I’ve gotten hundreds of requests like this, and 95% of customers think their steak is perfect. Most steakhouses cook just slightly under the requested temperature, because it’s cheaper to cook up a steak than to cook a new one, and most people (again) are perfectly happy with what they get.

In my experience, the only people to consistently send back steaks cooked close to the requested temp are the “well done but not burnt” (:rolleyes:) folks, the OH MY GOD THAT STEAK HAS COLOR/BLOOD YOU’RE TRYING TO KILL ME weirdos, and the “I want it to moo” men who see the temperature of their steak as some sort of social status, simply because the cook and I like to call their bluff and send out a very, very rare steak.

There is a real steak ordering term below ‘rare’ called ‘blue’ which, as I understand it, is just a raw steak with some searing grill marks on it. Does anyone ever order it that way and is it allowed?

I cooked in an nice restaurant, now wait at a large national chain. At the nice restaurant I cooked in for two years, I got maybe a dozen requests for ‘blue’. We didn’t really mind, and always had fun firing up the cast-iron to blistering levels of heat for a good Pittsburgh. It’s a nice change of pace, and we always like to show off our skills to someone who knows how to eat well (without being a douche about it).

I’ve worked at the chain for about a year now, and never had anyone order it blue. It might be against the corporate rules, but I bet you that I could get it to you that way, especially if it’s a slow night and the good cook is working. But the clientelle that orders a steak like this is generally either going to cook it at home or go somewhere nicer.

Just popping in to say that steak temperatures really do represent an internal temperature of the meat, and not a color, as many people assume. The temperature difference between each grade is about 10˚F, and requests like “medium rare plus” (aka “medium rare to medium”) are fulfilled to the best of the cooks ability in fine dining restaurants. A skilled cook will stick a thermometer into every steak he/she cooks, where as a “hack” will just poke it with their finger and guess. A highly skilled cook will be capable of hitting those odd ball temperature requests to an accuracy of +/- 2˚ F.

“Black and Blue” refers to the act of searing the outside of the meat while not cooking it to any specific temperature. I see this request sometimes, and I have never had one sent back. Of course, the kitchen rarely hears about satisfied customers, so I don’t know If they liked their steak or the hated it and didn’t bother to say anything.

I always order my steak blue and accept whatever I’m delivered which generally is all over the map. My best result was a one time experience when visiting relatives in Dallas, Texas, (Plano) and taken to Ruth’s Chris. Perfectly seared and tenderly warm. Not like its hard to do, because I cook my steaks that way for my self all the time, but why cooks have a problem with that style escapes me.

Why would you not expect food to be sent back when you’ve prepared it in a way specifically just to fuck with them?

I like my steak rare. Like, really rare. I like for the french fries to soak up the blood pool on my plate and the inside to be cool. The thing is, people (servers, not cooks) almost always want to make sure I really, really want it rare so I end up saying “YES. I want it to fucking bite back when I cut into it.” Do I want a raw steak? No. But I would not like for it to be medium rare or medium because it’s assumed that I didn’t really want rare. So it’s not really the cook’s fault that I’ve ordered it that way, but I’ve gotten exasperated and think like the kitchen does that I’d rather get it a little rarer than I want than get it overdone. Worst case scenario I eat the veggies, get a to go box and make pepper steak at home.

I went to a Ruth’s Chris one time and when I ordered it rare they waiter asked me “just how rare?” and I said I didn’t know what that meant so he explained “blue” steak to me. Honestly I loved it and I want mine black and blue all the time but I’m afraid to order it like that at somewhere like Logan’s or Outback or whatever chain and since I’ve become poor I don’t spend much time in high end steak houses. I spend more time in Taco Bell, and believe me, you don’t want to order a blue taco. :slight_smile:

I have never seen this in a restaurant setting, and I have never seen a professional chef state that penetrating the steak with a thermometer is necessary to cook to accurately. FWIW, I’ve heard both Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller say that your hands are the best instrument for telling if meat is done. Not saying it doesn’t happen, as your post implies that you work in a kitchen were it is, but it strikes me as unnecessary if you have a good enough cook.

I really don’t know a single waiter who would ring in anything other than what you ask for. They generally don’t care, and they just pass it along and trust the cook to get it right. If your steak is overcooked, it’s probably a result of the cook screwing up, not the waiter disbelieving you.

There’s asking for a steak extra rare because it’s what you prefer, and there’s the Foghorn Leghorn BOY I SAY BOY I WANTS IT MOOIN jackasses who think they’re tougher than any pantywaist cook, and simply can not get it rare enough. People in the first group are happy with what I bring them; people in the second are usually just posturing, and really want a standard rare steak. I put it in how they ask for it, and if they can’t handle it they shouldn’t make such a show over it. Steak is a competition for them, in a way that some people are with spicy foods.

I like my steaks on the rare side, but not raw or ‘blue’. I tell the wait-person I want my steak pink, but warm in the center. Works like a charm!

If you’re not sure, just tell the wait-staff how you like your steak. Describe it. You have to give them some help, they’re not mind readers after all. Or you can ask them how they describe doneness. Is it red in the center? Brown? Charred to hell? It only takes a minute of discourse to determine how things are done at that particular eatery.

It increases the chances that you will get an edible piece of beef.

Eh, you’re right about that. It’s one of those “what an odd thing to get high and mighty about” moments for me. :slight_smile:

me … though I have more heard it black and blue…If the hunk of cow is good quality, why not? Searing the outside deals with the external microbe population, and apparently after years of steak tartare I have a cast iron stomach. I do know that people around me will get food poisoning and I dont. I remember one SCA feast that had a spanish theme to it where almost everybody I knew that attended came down with ‘the fluxes’ and I was fine [and running around taking care of them]

I am, however not too foolhardy, I make my own chopped meat for steak tartare instead of eating commercial ground meat…I am probably more at risk for worms that food poisoning.

If i were local to you, I would certainly be willing to give it a shot, I love a decent steak served blue, though I am perfectly happy with standard rare. I have even eaten a medium but anything more than that it seems to lose taste and get cardboardy. [I will agree that in some situations, buffet lines and some banquet situations you are stuck with what they have and all the whinging in the world will do nothing except be mean to the servers]

One problem is the state/county health department. Food handling rules in Washington specifically state that rare beef may be cooked to 130° F if the meat is served immediately. Anything else must be at least 140° F. In other words, it’s against the law for me to cook a steak to anything less than 130° F. There is no exception in the rules that says, “Unless the customer asks for it that way.”

As a total side note, black and/or blue is the best way to cook kangaroo. The meat is very lean so it doesn’t do well if you try to cook it to higher temperatures.

The U.S. needs more kangaroo farms!

Back when I ate meat, the place we went to listed their degrees on the menu and to be sure there was no confusion (because maybe my medium is rarer than your medium), it included descriptions.
I remember: blue, rare, medium, well done, and overcook.

I may have told this story here before.

I like hamburgers rare. But I am used to most chains being unable to cook them that way. So I got in the habit of ordering it “as rare as you can make it” usually getting medium and occasionally even getting it a bit medium-rareish.

One time at 3 in the morning after some serious drinking me and my friends ended up at Village Inn. and I ordered my Hamburger"as rare as you can make it" without actually thinking about. Apparently the chef didn’t give a crap about corporate rules, and actually served it as rare as you can without it being totally raw. Maybe 7 seconds on each side on the grill, it hadn’t browned at all.

For those who were wondering, Village inn does not use top quality tender beef in their hamburger mix. It is not a fine Tartare, it is pretty nasty and should in all circumstances be cooked before eating, particularly on a well lubricated stomach. But since the chef made it exactly how I had ordered it, I didn’t feel right sending it back, so I ate it. Big Mistake, The grimy raw meat-like gunk didn’t even slow down for a tour of the digestive system before it exited back out.

wolfman, I had that experience at a Chili’s. Of course I wanted to stress rare, because I assumed that they wouldn’t do less than medium. I got pretty close to a raw hamburger back. What can you do? I ate it. It was fine, but rarer than I cared for.

It’s tough to order in those places. You want to encourage them to break the rules, but you also don’t want to get an uncooked burger. If you have a chef willing to do it, as rare as you can get it, means raw. If you have a chef that follows the rules, as rare as you can get it means medium but medium rare if your lucky.

I have never seen roo in the US markets I have gone to :frowning:

I would love a chance to try it, I keep hearing good things about it.