Seven Things You’re Doing Wrong at a Steakhouse

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Josh Capon, chef and co-owner of Bowery Meat Company, New York. Source: Bowery Meat Company

Class is in session with Bowery Meat Company’s Josh Capon. Because nobody wants to be that guy.

Of course, you know how to behave at a steakhouse.


Not unlike the seatbelt demo on an airplane, people think that proper restaurant behavior is self-evident.
Not necessarily, said Josh Capon, the chef and co-owner of downtown Manhattan’s always packed Bowery Meat Company. He’s provided an all-important list of Do’s and Don’ts for his restaurant. No time like the present to brush up.

1. Don’t walk into my steakhouse, just order a steak and then tell me it’s taking too long.

In fact, don’t walk into any restaurant and not order an appetizer. A beautiful steak, it takes time to cook. If you’re two people, share an app. You’ve been to a restaurant before, you know the way a kitchen works. Even if it’s a piece of fish that you ordered, give the chef time to pull it out of the refrigerator and prepare it.

This is especially true if you’re at my place and ordered a 16-, a 20-, or a 40-ounce piece of beef. I’m cooking that meat to order for you. Give me a little bit of time to do it right.

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Bowery Meat Company’s Tomahawk steak. Source: Bowery Meat Company

2. Don’t fill up on appetizers before that beautiful steak comes to your table.

The flip side of Rule No.1: There’s hardly anything on Bowery Meat Company menu north of the main courses that is going to kill you. Notice, I’m not making a heavy wedge salad packed with blue cheese and bacon. No French onion soup. I serve sashimi and cauliflower steak and a farmers salad. Too many times, I’ve been to a steak house, and by the time the steak comes, I’m ready to tap out.

Of course, there are a few starters that go big. This is a steakhouse, not a spa. The duck lasagna for two is pretty killer; sometimes I serve it as a mid-course. My joke is that most places serve lemon sorbet as a mid course; we do duck lasagna.

Rule 2. Watch out for gut-busting appetizers such as BMC's cheesy, meaty duck lasagna for two (that can easily serve four), with a crusty top. Photographer: Evan Sung/Bloomberg Business

Rule 2. Watch out for gut-busting appetizers such as BMC’s cheesy, meaty duck lasagna for two (that can easily serve four), with a crusty top. Photo: Evan Sung

3. Treat the steak with respect.

Please taste it before you grab the salt or douse it in steak sauce. At BMC, I’m using the top 1 percent of beef in the country; we’re cooking it really well and seasoning it perfectly. We make our steak sauce and the Romesco sauce that goes with the Tomahawk ribeye, the salsa verde with the côte de beouf. My sauces are good, but we want you to taste the meat.

4. Cut the steak down the middle to check that it’s cooked right.

Please and please and please, when you your steak arrives, cut it down the middle to check the temperature. Don’t cut a little piece from the end and tell me it’s overcooked. I will come out to your table and cut the steak down the middle and show you. I want to say the customer is always right … but not always. We’re dealing with expensive cuts of meat that come from a living animal. We do a good job of making sure your meat is cooked right.

BMC's veal chop tastes of chili and fennel, with a buttery sauce that gets better when you squeeze an orange over it. Photographer: Evan Sung/Bloomberg Business

BMC’s veal chop tastes of chili and fennel, with a buttery sauce that gets better when you squeeze an orange over it. Photo: Evan Sung

5. Don’t be afraid to take home leftovers.

Especially if you order a big boy steak, get those leftovers packed up. I promise that—especially on the weekend, if you fry up a couple slices of the T-bone or the New York strip—you’ll have a great breakfast and be the hero. Make a sandwich, make some hash, or just eat it plain. It’s prime meat, and it should not be wasted.

6. Ask to see the steak you’re ordering.

At any quality steakhouse, you don’t have to think twice about checking out the meat before it’s cooked. Not everyone knows what a Tomahawk cut or a côte de boeuf is. Plus, you want to see the bright red color, the marbling, the thickness. These are expensive cuts, they cost around $150. So don’t be afraid to ask about them.

I’m very proud to show off my meat. (Obviously, I’m referring to the steak.) And I have a lot of fun carrying that Tomahawk ribeye around the dining room before it goes on the fire: People take pictures of it; it makes me a star. A ton of regular customers buy meat from me now. I charge them cost; it’s three times as much at the store. They they go home and grill them up, and they’re the superstars.

The dainty-looking Bowery steak, a rolled-up ribeye cap on mashed potato with salsa verde. Photographer: Evan Sung/Bloomberg Business

The dainty-looking Bowery steak, a rolled-up ribeye cap on mashed potato with salsa verde. Photo: Evan Sung

7. Order a steak to the temperature that you want it. Really.

Do not be embarrassed to order a steak medium or medium-well. Don’t let a table full of people who think they’re experts tell you that you need to eat your meat rare. You can eat my steak well done; I can eat a steak well done. No judgements here. We don’t put it on the back of the burner for four hours to char the hell out of it. You might have heard stories about cooks spitting on a well-done order, or serving an inferior, end-of-loin cut. No way. We’re charging people the same price. They shouldn’t get a lesser cut of meat. We take our waygu end-of-loin scraps and grind them up to meatballs. I’m always thinking.

Bloomberg

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