The Esquire Almanac of Steak is in the September issue, but so massive a piece of ordnance is it that the magazine is staggering its online release so as not to overwhelm the Internet. The feature might be the mightiest devoted to steak that any magazine has ever published. Some elements are a little weak: John Mariani’s “20 Best Steaks in America” is arbitrary and long-winded, and more a platform for snappy descriptors (“You name your restaurant Steak Frites, you better get this one right. They do.”) than accurate or insightful “carniseurship.” But the main articles are downright brilliant. Hasten immediately to Tom Chiarella’s “Butcher” feature, which starts with the immortal sentence “The sink is full of tongues”; Eliot Kaplan’s pitch-perfect profile of the overhyped but lovable Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa; a tribute to the pre-steak martini by Dave Wondrich; and, best of all, Tom Junod’s meditation on Wagyu beef, which should go on the short list of the best steak essays of all time, right along with Jeffrey Steingarten’s “High Steaks” and Joseph Mitchell’s “All You Can Hold for Five Bucks.” It compresses meaty physicality, cooking, consumption, and a twinned pair of moral epiphanies into less space than it takes to review a movie. More essays and recipes from the issue will come online at Esquire.com throughout the week. But what’s there now will sate you for days to come.
Another entry in the Library of Steak. Photo: Corbis