This Is The Most Important Thing To Say When You’re Ordering Steak At A Restaurant


I know it’s a personal preference, but I believe steaks are at their absolute best when cooked medium-rare. It’s the perfect temperature for a nice piece of meat. It’s more than just cooking though, ideally, the steaks should start out at room temperature. I can always tell when somebody’s cooking a steak right out of the fridge. They never really cook as evenly, the center taking just a little longer to get to that sweet-spot, the exterior drying out while the middle struggles to come down from the cold. I’ll still always say, “Wow, great steak,” but I’m really just being polite.

Ideally, whoever is cooking is going to want to heat up their grill or frying pan or whatever, get it really, really hot, almost smoking, so that way the outside will have that nice char, that crisp brown. And then when you cut into it, man, red to the center, warm interior, just perfect.

So I always order my steak medium-rare. Unless, of course, I’m sitting at a table in a steakhouse with a large group of people. In that case it’s not so simple. I’m a gentleman, and so I never just go ahead and order first. I’ll hold off for somebody else to start, and then I’ll wait until it’s my turn. Chances are, somebody else is going to order their steak medium-rare. I’m telling you, it’s the best way to have a steak. But then the waiter will come around to me, “And for you sir? How would you like your steak prepared?” I can’t say medium-rare now. I’ll look like I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ll look like I’ve never ordered a steak before, that now I’m just copying everybody else.

This is why it’s great to order first at a steak place. Because everyone else is definitely going to get their steak medium-rare. So when you order first, you look like you’re in charge, like everyone else is following your lead. Then the second person also says medium-rare. “Very good, sir.” And maybe he really did want his steak medium-rare. It all depends on how fast he said it. If there was even a second’s hesitation, there would be that question, that he might have gone for medium, but he didn’t feel like being outdone by the first person. “I’ll take mine medium … rare. Medium-rare.” A classic rookie I’ve-never-eaten-in-a-steakhouse-with-a-large-group-of-people mistake.

And then it goes down the line, medium-rare, medium-rare, medium-rare. But now everybody ordering, the fifth, sixth, seventh, even if they wanted medium, medium-well, it’s just not happening. Nobody’s going to stick their neck out like that. By the third or fourth person, the waiter is only even asking because he has to, because it’s part of his job description.

And yet every once in a while the waiter will start off with a person who clearly doesn’t know how to eat steak and they’ll say medium or medium-well. And the next person will order theirs, extra loud, medium-rare, as if to say, please don’t confuse me with my idiot friend to my left, I’d like mine medium-rare. Please. And it’ll go down the line, medium-rare, medium-rare, and after two or three people, that first guy will realize his mistake, and he’ll get really embarrassed, and he’ll just shout out to the waiter, who’s already passed him, and he’ll say, “Excuse me, you know what? I’m going to go for that medium-rare also, thanks.” And the waiter will say, “Very good, sir,” and he’ll pretend to cross out something on his pad and write in something else, but it will all be an act, because he’s not writing anything at all. It’s always medium-rare. The first person always changes to medium-rare after everyone else orders medium-rare. It’s a science.

But then it gets to me, maybe I’m like the eighth or ninth person ordering. And I’m no follower, I’m no nameless face in a crowd. So I’ll say “rare, please.” And everyone drops their fork and stares. I learned this trick at my friend’s wedding in Iowa last summer. The rehearsal dinner was at this steak place, and the specialty was steak. Delish. Of course I was going to order medium-rare, but the first person ordered rare. I was like, what? Rare? Crazy. But then the second person ordered. Rare. Third, fourth, fifth. Rare, rare, rare. There was definitely a pattern here and it became clear to me how I’d have to order my steak.

It was good. I liked it. It’s a little chewier than I was used to. You have to cut the pieces really thin so it’s somewhat manageable in your mouth. But it’s nice. I still like medium-rare better, but I’ll never tell that to anybody. I’ll only order that if it’s just me and somebody else, or if I’m cooking the steak myself. From now on, when I’m at a steak restaurant with a lot of people, rare it is. I’m a one-of-a-kind kind of a guy. I just love it, sitting there. Medium-rare. Medium-rare. Medium-rare. Medium-rare. And, rare. Bam. I always stand out from the pack.

I really hope that someday I’m out to dinner with a bunch of guys and for some reason it’s my turn to order first. And I’m definitely going to order rare. And I know that that second person is just going to have to order rare also. And it’ll be like dominoes, everyone falling in line, everyone getting a rare steak. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened in Iowa. I think.

Just do me a favor and never order a steak well-done. I have it on good authority that whenever a chef at a steak restaurant gets an order for a well done steak, he walks over to a nearby trashcan where, under all of the garbage, he keeps a stockpile of some of last week’s worst cuts of meat. After he pulls the nastiest one out, he spits on it a few times, and then he throws it on the grill until all that’s left is a charred blackened piece of coal. Then he puts on some parsley and sends it out to be served. It’s true, I swear. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Rob Gunther

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