A market for new steakhouse offerings this is not. So for the serious carnivores in the crowd, the following news will be a beacon of light. Across his bistro restaurants Balthazar, Pastis, and Schiller’s restaurateur Keith McNally, taking the advice of his chefs, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson, has overhauled his beef program. Bar, strip, and hanger steaks at all the restaurants are now Creekstone “Master Chef” choice beef instead of standard choice cuts. Pat LaFrieda, Mark Pastore, and their steer whisperers at La Frieda Meats, exclusive distributor of Creekstone, promise Creekstone is marbled like prime meat “commodity prime,” in meatpacking parlance. What’s more, McNally has ordered 200 cases in advance. (Balthazar and Pastis go through a combined 200 strip steaks a week, says Pastore.) Over at Minetta Tavern — where all the beef is Creekstone 100 percent angus, USDA certified prime beef, aged five to six weeks at La Frieda — the Black Label burger is still a draw. In its opening weeks, the restaurant was serving 50 to 60 burgers a night; demand has now cooled to about 30 orders. The restaurateur has a contractual exclusive to serve the Black Label burger (currently, by his chefs' choosing, it’s only at Minetta), perhaps making it the first piece of food ever to upstage the scene at a McNally restaurant.
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