Red Meat is King!

Andrew Dominick

Red meat is back!

According to a USA Today article (July 2017, Zlati Meyer) stating; “After a decade-long decline, low prices, strong disposable incomes and a guarded thumbs up for the healthiness of red meat have combined to give beef a resurgence. “ Americans ate an average 55.6 pounds of beef in 2016, up from 54 pounds in 2015, according to the Department of Agriculture. This comes after a decade during which U.S. beef consumption plummeted 15%. Plus, a more educated consumer is now choosing grain and grass-fed organic meat, another healthy choice inducer.

Locally, have you looked at the restaurant menus lately? Those kale salad and roasted chicken dinners are dead, and bone marrow, beef fat fries, and gourmet burgers are everywhere. Even more rampant are those big cuts of beef. We’re talkin’ tomahawk ribeyes, the famed porterhouse, and thick-cut filets. We also love the hangar, flat iron, and Denver cuts which have popped up as an “in” thing.

Washington Prime in South Norwalk caught the red meat revival at the right time when they opened in 2014, filling the steakhouse void in the neighborhood, and they’ve been going strong ever since. Partner Rob Moss saw this beef rebirth coming.

“There weren’t many prime steakhouses in Fairfield County for quite a while, then suddenly, boom, there were several steak house concepts popping up ,” he said. “As part of the team that opened Gabriele’s in Greenwich in 2011, we saw the tide turning even then. "

Washington Prime has never held back when it comes to prime beef goodness, boasting a menu with six steak dishes; NY strip in 8 oz and 18 oz wet-aged, 21-day wet-aged filet mignon, 22 oz wet-aged ribeye, 40 oz porterhouse that’s dry-aged for 28 days, and a 50 oz wet-aged tomahawk ribeye. Beef also makes an appetizer appearance in the form of tartare—a dish that’s seen its own resurgence—and on a burger with their Prime Burger, a riff on a Big Mac, and their second-best seller (first is the filet). With that said, the restaurant satisfies all of their customers, having both gluten-free and lighter options to choose from, such as raw bar items, great salads, seasonal produce, and market fresh fish.

Why is beef popular again? “I don’t think people want to eat “healthy” all the time. When they get a night off they want a big, juicy steak,” says Moss, “People are more adventurous today and willing to eat things like steak tartare. Maybe you didn’t eat red meat because of the company you were with, but now you’re seeing places that cater to healthy, vegan, gluten-free, and we do that here, so there’s something for everyone.”

It's also important to have quality meat (WP uses prime beef) that’s cooked properly. Washington Prime steaks come from corn-fed cattle from a couple different farms in the mid-west. If you didn’t know, the term “corn-fed” results in a richer beef taste with softer fat. Those well-marbled cuts are then seasoned with coarse salt and pepper and go into a 900° - 950° custom broiler where the steak gets seared on a rectangular cast iron slab, with fans directing the heat towards the steak, resulting in a perfect crust, and locking the juices in. Washington Prime makes damn sure to rest their meat, then they hit it with a drizzle of smoked clarified butter for a shiny gloss and an added flavor.

You could make the case that people in certain areas are healthier—aided by all the gyms and health-conscious salad/juice bars—and people today work long hours, so that whole “treat yourself” notion is a big deal. But Moss just sees dining out as an event.

“There’s just something about being in a steakhouse, Frank Sinatra playing in the background, and cutting into a juicy steak!”

BRB, I need a steak! Don’t just sit there drooling. You obviously want one too.