7 Steakhouse Orders That Make Chefs Roll Their Eyes
Plant-based trends aside, there are few dining out experiences that Americans love more than a steakhouse. Big, juicy cuts of meat delivered by accommodating waitstaff in shirts and ties, plentiful sides of potatoes, creamed spinach, and Caesar salads (ideally made tableside), and of course, giant slices of cheesecake and other sweets to finish the feast.
What we love about steakhouses are the charming service and the plentiful servings, but it's hard not to wonder if there's any possible way to actually improve an order. What do chefs enjoy making, which dishes do they put their heart and soul into, and which would they prefer to never see on the line again? Naturally, we went straight to the source and asked chefs and bartenders what steakhouse orders they dislike so much they never want to see them again.
Not picking a temperature
Don't try to split hairs with how done you want your steak, says James Beard nominee and Top Chef fan favorite Isaac Toups of Toups Meatery. "As a chef we hate hearing a customer wants their steak in between medium rare and medium. We already have five temperature [choices] and they are only about five degrees from each other," he explains. "If you order your steak in between medium rare and medium, you're getting it medium."
Asking for two temperatures
When tackling a big steak at a steakhouse, it's not uncommon to split one of the bigger cuts. That's fine, but what isn't okay is asking for two levels of doneness, says Milo Cruz, chef and CMO of Legend Cookware. "We occasionally got requests to split one order of steak into two, but with different doneness levels," said Cruz. "Not only did this involve extra steps during cooking, it also made plating needlessly complicated."
Not only that, but the chef has to split the rest of the order, making it look a little sad, Cruz said. "Every steak dish on our menu also came with a side, sauce, and salad. To prepare a split order, we had to divide each component fairly between two plates. This would often sacrifice the visual appeal of the dish to stay within cost restraints."
Requesting cooked tartare
If you haven't tried beef tartare, the dish is normally chopped raw beef, seasoned with egg yolk, capers, salt, and spices. It's not for everyone, but it is meant to be enjoyed uncooked. "The weirdest order I've had to prepare was a cooked beef tartare," Cruz told us. "Our version was meant to be shared, served as individual portions of raw steak on top of purple corn tortillas. Essentially, what the customer got was tiny beef patties on toast. Surprisingly, they loved it so much that they became one of our regulars."
Requesting steak Pittsburgh-style
This is an old-school order that not every steakhouse is set up to create, and it's extremely time-consuming, says Kam Talebi, CEO of Butcher's Tale.
"Every weekend, someone comes in who wants their steak Pittsburghed. This involves getting the steak ice cold without freezing it, and cooking it at a very high temperature," says Kalebi. "It produces a thick crust and a rare center. It's very good, but Butcher's Tale isn't a classic steakhouse founded in the 1940s. We offer to accommodate them, but let them know it will take 90 minutes to chill the steak and cook it. Most everyone who asks for a Pittsburgh declines, and loves the way we serve their ribeye with steak butter and crispy onions."
Ordering steak well-done
This comes up so much that it's pretty much a given that chefs hate it. Why? Usually, steakhouse steaks are seasoned and already aged, so cooking them well drains most of the flavor and texture you go to a steakhouse for.
"At Toro Toro, our steaks are perfectly cut and seasoned, and we are so disappointed when guests order their steaks well done," says Armando Febles, Executive Chef at Toro Toro. "Red meat is as much about texture as it is about flavor, and the longer it cooks, the tougher it is and will certainly lack the flavor."
Not only does ordering well done irritate chefs, but asking for steaks to be cooked quickly is pretty aggravating, says Executive Chef Billy Muzio of View. "It would happen more often than not; a customer would order a massive steak, 32-plus ounces, and request it well done," Muzio told us. "On top of that, they would need it to be rushed out so they can get to a show or event they were heading to. As if we were cooking these steaks with microwaves or something. A steak that big takes at least 20 minutes to cook to medium, let alone well done!! There is no fast food steak."
The Espresso Martini Chain Reaction
The issue with this extremely popular drink for bartenders is that it's tough to make, and of course, once people see one, they want one says Melissa Waugh, bartender at KR Steakbar.
"Hands down the worst drink anyone can order at my bar is an espresso martini," she says. "They have several ingredients so take longer to make, they make everything very sticky due to the sweet and creamy ingredients, and I have to brew an insane amount of espresso (one shot at a time) to make the hundreds that are ordered every day. It only takes one person to order an espresso martini, then the whole damn bar and restaurant sees it and wants one."