We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Saturday, May 3. 2014
A fine old New York carnivore's delight, on W. 36th St. since 1885. Actually, it was a club before that, back when Herald Square was NYC's theater district.
Keen's is famous for their mutton chops (photo). How do you like your mutton done? (don't say "Dressed as lamb").
I'm getting hungry. Need to get back there soon. Remember when manly pubs were termed "watering holes" and hearty meat-eaters were termed "trenchermen"? The good old days, before wimpy metrosexual scaredy-cat men, and before we had a President who eats arugula. (Confession: I like arugula, and dandelion greens too, but I could happily live the rest of my life without salad or vegetables.)
Everybody in the NY metropolitan area has his own favorite steakhouse, and NYC has tons of them. It's a guy thing. Wives prefer their favorite Italian or French bistros, and those are fine with me too.
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Currently, it's Carmen Anthony's in New Haven and Waterbury (three fishhouses, too): http://www.carmenanthony.com/content/home -1 point for annoying recording here, though.
Chicago? Kansas City? Miami? Fort Worth? I've had faves there, too, but it's hard to beat Ruth's Chris Steakhouses almost anywhere.
Even before I lived there in the 60's and 70's, there was The Cattleman. Read the comments about the place here:
The cookbook: "Adult Western.
Larry “Cat” Ellman’s New York City institution recaptured the charm and manly elegance of a plush San Francisco saloon or hotel at the turn of the century, and became one of the nation’s most successful restaurants. Naturally, beef was its specialty, and The Cattleman’s Steak Book’s 200 recipes capture the flavor of distinctively Western dining from “the adult Western restaurant.”
It was in the Fred F. French Building, 551 5th Avenue.
Chicago is famous for The Stockyards Inn, a place I've been to more than once. Carl Sandburg talks about it in one of his poems. In my turbulent youth, I had a beau who owned interest in The Stockyards Inn, and he taught me quite a bit about beef, on the hoof and off. Most folks aren't aware today that in the 1960s the U.S. Government [those guys -- wouldn't ya know] changed the quality grading of American beef and downgraded it all by one grade, so what we buy now as prime, was choice, today's choice was yesterday's 'good' and today's 'good' was 'cutter and canner' and not available in butcher shops, but rather canned. As far as top grade, or prime, is concerned, it supposedly is unavailable to the general public, and it goes to the White House, of course, and a few extraordinarily exclusive restaurants, probably like Keene's Chophouse.
I think it was "dirty pool" of the government to do this so secretively but, sadly, typical of the "elite" who have to have the best of everything. I do know that midwestern beef, from Wisconsin and Illinois is really lovely and I miss it.
I remember hearing the stories of the changed beef grades; thanks for the reminder, Marianne.
Also, almost all good restaurants had a beef "aging room." In the really old days, these were a cool cellar that the mostly grass-fed beef hung in for a few weeks, while bacteria naturally tenderized the proteins. When commercial refrigeration became practical, these rooms could be put anywhere near the kitchen, and there was a bit of art in designing them - too much airflow or too great a difference between the refrigerating surface and the room temperature, and the meat dried out. Slime on the meat (biofilm for you scientists) was scraped off when you wanted to slice some off for a customer. Can you imagine what the gummint agencies would say about those rooms today? (I know, I used to listen to them for a living! But, that was before the Nanny State ruled us all.)
There are several great steakhouses in New York. I like Keen's for many reasons, but I have never been to one of the most famous: Peter Luger's.
I will get there. I've heard it's overrated. But even if it is, the name is legend and for that reason alone it's worth a visit.
The Striphouse is one I've been to several times, and enjoy. Also, The Old Homestead is another.
Then, of course, there are my industry hangouts like Smith & Wollensky and Ben Benson's. Both are just terrific, though I spend very little time in that part of the city anymore.
New York's political gangs congregated at steakhouses for the reason BD mentions - women were never big carnivores. Steakhouses often served as the 'local chapter' of whatever political club was in the area.
My favorite steak of all time was at Simpson's on the Strand, in London. But that was a good 30 years ago. I was lucky enough to be taken there as a young student by my father. I'm sure part of my memory was the ambiance rather than the steak itself.
Had the great pleasure to have dinner at the bar with a coworker last week. My first time there...
Lorenzo's, in Trenton NJ, right next to the train station. Had a famous aging room, all wood.....superb steaks, outstanding atmosphere.
Destroyed by the inevitable influence of the liberal democrat policies that render cities uninhabitable.
BTW, Peter Luger's original Brooklyn establishment is excellent. Over rated only due to the fact that generally speaking Brooklyn is 30-50% cheaper than the City, and PL's is not cheap.
You've got the story garbled... as the big shift occurred later.
The scheme was to depress the CPI which was going tilt during the 70's over meat prices. (This was when I was trading in USDA Choice (restaurant cuts) by the ton.)
Prime used to be of one grade only.
Then the USDA announced Prime 1 and Prime 2...
With Prime 2 being what had been the highest of the Choice grades.
The old Choice was, IIRC, (I stopped selling steaks 30 years ago) went from 3 to 5 grades
The Choice that you see at the grocer can be ANY of the five grades and still get a Choice label.
The only Choice 1 and Choice 2 would've been deemed Choice under the prior grading standard.
Choice 4 and Choice 5 used to be USDA Good 1 and Good 2.
THESE are the Choice grades normally seen at the counter. The higher grades of Choice are taken by the restaurant trade.
The feedlots have DRASTICALLY reduced the production of Prime grade beef. This is achieved by reducing corn calories and slaughtering the critters more quickly.
Prime 2 is still available at select grocers. You'll see it in up-scale neighborhoods such as southwest Reno and Beverly Hills. The marbling is eye-popping.
Prime 1 is now so scarce that it's spoken for by the premier restaurants. It's as good as Kobe beef. (I sold to the Japanese.)
The feedlot industry has hugely curtailed the production of bottom grade beef. It's sold as animal feed. The days of selling tinned beef to the US Army are over. (MREs are another matter.)
The animal feed segment is enough to absorb all of the over aged dairy cows, etc. that America has to slaughter.
You will see some crazy stuff coming in from overseas -- which usually involves a mega-buyer. Naturally enough, such transactions are problematic. Usually blowing up in the Press(D) after the inevitable fiasco. ( Ye old horse for cow substitutions, etc.)
My info is certainly dated. So I would not be surprised to discover even further debasements.
Even more egregious debasements occur in open ocean fish. The lies never end at the fish monger's.
Likewise, the debasement of olive oil is an international scandal. Unless you travel to the olive orchard, you're getting fake olive oil. All of that virgin, extra virgin schtick is a bald faced lie. No more than 0.5% of any olive oil in the trade is from the olive tree.
Why? Olive trees, if planted across the globe, are not able to produce enough olive oil to meet international demand. The whole market is a scam - - with European governments in on the deal up past their hairlines.
In this, olive oil resembles the maple syrup market. There are not enough maple trees if planted across the globe to produce enough sap to meet the market demand. But, at least the Americans and Canadians don't lie about it.
That's the difference.