The steak paradox.
Red meat is killing you, or so they say. It’s also getting kind of affordable.
A curious thing has happened in the world of steak: cheap is in. That’s not to say there aren’t still a plethora of options to serve the expense account crowd. Smith and Wolensky, Keen’s, Delmonico’s, Peter Luger are all still here and and as good as ever if you want to do that to yourself. But they’re no longer the only places to get good steak, and I’m not talking about Outback.
In New York, two joints have emerged to define the new-age steak house, Williamsburg’s St. Anselm and Quality Eats in the West Village. The second notably, emerged from the lineage of Smith & Wollensky, and the second was a true independent trendsetter.
The idea is that while the price of beef has gone up, lesser used cuts, excellently prepared, can break the steakhouse chains and make for a more casual and more affordable version of the classic. Steak on a hipster budget.
The only problem with this model is economics. Hanger, flank, and bavette might all be affordable now, but eventually everything catches up. And by charging cheaper prices, it’s almost a guarantee that demand will increase quickly.
There also should be caution beyond the price. Calorie counts killed Outback. Seriously, the only place they’re growing is Brazil, and there’s a reason that country has its own type of steakhouse. Sure these new steaks are smaller and the atmosphere is much lighter, but they’re still steaks and the sides are still gluttonous and rich. Steak is a treat. It should be a treat, because if it’s not, it’s too easy to abuse. You can’t eat Shake Shack every day, and you definitely shouldn’t be going to a steakhouse once a week.
I love red meat. I will never give it up. But I’ve also gone paleo and gone to the doctor afterwards. Not good news. And science has almost unanimously backed that up.
So it comes down to this: is affordable steak isn’t necessarily a step forward? Health-wise, it’s sort of a step back. For the common diner, it’s a step forward. But do we risk overdoing it? Are we on a path further into the hands of the beef industry, neglecting the undeniable downside of everyday beef? Do we end up back at Outback without a sense of what we’ve done to ourselves?
Nah, screw it, eat good steak. We’ll deal with the consequences later.