Steakhouses are valued for one thing: their meat. There are no chefs, and no one goes there for the décor. So if the meat is available elsewhere, such as DeBragga and Spitler’s new retail operation, why bother with the steakhouse? The beef supplier, one of New York’s most established, was once the source for most of the city’s top steakhouses, and still supplies some of the best, such as Craftsteak and BLT Prime. Now you can buy a steak that is “exactly, absolutely” the same, says DeBragga’s Marc Sarrazin. Other top meat operations, like elite-meat specialist Pat LaFrieda, and small-farm evangelist Heritage Food USA, have made their stuff available to the public as well. So the question is this: Is it worth it?
Details recently put out a list of “The Best New Steak Houses in America,” and it was not inaccurate. Most of the places across the country that delight enlightened meatheads made the cut: Cut in LA, Michael Mina’s butter-crazed Stripsteak in Vegas, and Robert’s (ill-served by an unrepresentative piece of choice beef in the picture) are indeed among the best going. But writers and diners alike are too happy to be served a big steak to gauge it accurately, which makes all steakhouse features unreliable at best.