|Even as we Clevelanders aspire to greater gastronomic heights, deep inside our culinary consciousness, something tells us that a good steak is somehow the pinnacle of fine dining, the linchpin of “the big night out.” But our craving for red meat, however primal, need not be devoid of knowledge or nuance. Gone are the days of cheap steaks accompanied by all-you-can-eat buffets. Enter the highend chophouse: Places where a simple cut is transformed to artistic perfection, places like Hyde Park (which won this year’s Silver Spoon for the umpteenth year in a row), Delmonico’s Steakhouse and Red The Steakhouse. The chasm between a truly inspired steak and a ho-hum piece of cow is tremendous. “The quality of steak depends on what you buy,” says Andy Dombrowski, executive chef at Delmonico’s Steakhouse. “You get what you pay for. When dishes are more expensive, it’s because the restaurant is buying the best quality product instead of inferior product.” How does a consumer know what’s what? Three chefs “steer” us through the favorites.
New York Strip Steak
The cut: Strip steaks, located in the short loin, are the second most popular cut after tenderloin, and the second most tender. “Strip steaks have deeper flavor than a tenderloin, they have enough marbling to give great flavor,” says Andrew Dombrowski, executive chef at Delmonico’s Steakhouse (6001 Quarry Lane, Independence, 216-573-1991).
On the menu: Sicilian Style Strip Steak, pan seared in a spicy Sicilian tapenade of olives, peppers, fresh herbs and spices; served with grilled asparagus
The chef says: “The tapenade is homemade and lends depth of flavor. It has a lot of garlic and crushed herbs and chilies,” Dombrowski says. “The dish is something very different.”
The cut: “It’s our best cut of steak,” says Peter Vauthy, executive chef of Red the Steakhouse (3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, 216-831-2252). Located in the rib section of the steer, it’s just in front of the short loin. Red leaves the “deckle” on its ribeye — an extra tender part of cut that is often removed. The ribeye is “very well marbled and has a super amount of flavor. They’re wet-aged by our meat purveyor, and they’re so tender and so delicious.”
On the menu: Vauthy recommends the béarnaise for the ribeye.
The chef says: “We make our own herb and vinaigrette reduction, we clarify our own butter, we use fresh eggs,” Vauthy says. “It’s made fresh all day. The flavor of tarragon is just so good, it’s the perfect complement to this steak.”
The cut: Filets are cut from the tenderloin, located on the short loin near the steer’s back. “Our center-cut filets have a little marbling and are very tender. They’re the best cut of meat that you can get — no gristle or no fat,” says John Polonye, executive chef at Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse (123 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, 216-344-2444).
On the menu: Steak Kosar: A filet mignon over bordelaise crowned with lobster and béarnaise; asparagus and mushroom caps
The chef says: “This treatment is available to any cut of meat, but it’s especially good with the filet,” Polonye says. “The lobster and béarnaise on top of a hot steak is just excellent.”