Most Americans love a good steak. Personally, I love a well cooked sirloin. Filets are nice, but there is something, for me, about the texture and make up of a sirloin. As a server who worked in a Steak House for several years, I had to become very familiar with all types of beef products: sirloins, filets, t-bones, chop steak, rib eyes, prime rib, hamburgers, etc. Perhaps more importantly, I had to become an expert on how these steaks are prepared. Steaks in the restaurant I worked in ranged in price from $10 for a chop steak to $24 for a T-Bone. $24 is a lot of money to most people and those who order steak usually have expectations of their meal, as they should.
I can’t tell you how many times, in my seven years as a server, the following transpired at my tables:
A table in my section would a steak and I would ask them how they would like it cooked. I would repeat back to the customer exactly what they said to confirm how they wanted their steak. Twenty minutes later, the steak would arrive at the table. I would ask the customers to cut into the steak to confirm it was the temperature they ordered. The customer would cut into the steak and say “This is not how I like it!”
Whose fault is this? It’s very easy to blame the server or the kitchen or even the restaurant. Let’s face the facts: assuming the server can write down what you said and the cooks can read what the server wrote, there is a good chance that the server/kitchen combination is not at fault. Of course, there are moments when a cook totally under or over cooks a steak. It definitely happens. However, I would say that well over 85% of the time, you, the customer, did not communicate your expectations to the server properly. Ordering beef at a restaurant is something that customers need to do a better job at. You are paying a lot of money for steak and you owe it to yourself to be more precise with your order.
The restaurant I worked in had the following steak temperatures:
Rare: A Cool Bloody Center
Medium Rare: A Warm Bloody Center
Medium: A Hot
Medium Well: Cooked Throughout
Across the street, a different restaurant had a completely different set of steak temperatures customers ordered from. To this restaurant, “well” meant cooked throughout and not burned as it did in my restaurant. You see what I’m getting at here? Each restaurant is going to be different and what is “medium well” in my restaurant would not necessarily be the same in every other restaurant you might visit.
As a customer, who is paying a lot of money for their dinner, you should order your steak as you want it to look. You should tell the server “I want my beef to be hot and pink in the center”. Let the server figure out what to tell the cooks. Never say something like “I want my steak medium rare” because I promise you, your steak will not live up to your expensive expectations.