Meats to 86 From Menus: Filet, Sirloin Burgers, and, yes, Prime Rib

Unfortunately, most prime ribs don't look like this charred beauty.
Unfortunately, most prime ribs don't look like this charred beauty.
Photo by Flickr user kertong

Growing up, a good friend's father ate more meat more regularly than anyone I knew or have known since. He would devour a half-pound of bacon for breakfast, eat burgers cooked in butter for lunch, and put away a hearty steak at dinnertime. Occasionally, he'd take us out for a meal.

My friend and I would have to get burgers, but John almost never passed up the opportunity to grab filet mignon.

Once the server brought him his slab of protein, John would reach into his pocket for a small silver pill box from which he'd take a couple of pequin peppers, tiny little fellows he grew himself that are seven to eight times as spicy as jalapeños. He'd cut them up with his pocket knife, his chunky sausage fingers working far more delicately than you'd think possible, and then put a tiny slice on each bite of filet.

And that is the only way a filet should be eaten. If you've got the brass attachments to eat them with something so hot that it will kill a good-sized wolverine,

go for it. I'm certainly not getting in your way. Otherwise, I'm siding with a chef friend who thinks they're overpriced, underflavored, overplayed, and in general an

excuse to charge way too much money for a slab of meat that

can't hold a candle to oxtail flavorwise. They need to go.


though, isn't alone in its need to be 86'd from restaurant menus. Creative chefs are working up dishes with everything from beef cheeks to pig's feet, so there's no reason to go for boring, flavorless cuts any more.


prime rib, for instance. Over lunch the other day with a local chef and

his wife, this choice started a heated argument between the married

couple (he likes prime rib, she's with me). Here's the problem: you

just can't get around the fact that it's used ubiquitously and poorly

at every crappy catered affair that wants to look upscale but can't

spring for lobster.

It looks like a huge chunk of cow on the

table, it's rarely cooked with any skill, and it's just too damn easy

to cop out and offer one. For that reason alone, if I never see another

one of those big bastards sitting on a cutting board with a pseudo-chef

wearing a paper chef's hat standing in its shadow holding a slicing

knife, I'll be a happy camper.

Then there's steak au poivre.

It's not that I have an issue with steak, obviously. And I do love me

some pepper. But this bad boy is so clumsily done at most places that

it's just got to go. Somehow, delicious meat with a tasty peppery sauce

has become a throwaway that most cooks just phone in. Make a thick

reduction, jam some crushed peppercorns into the steak, grill it and

plate it.

Too many chefs use the fact that the pepper is so

front-and-center as a green light to dump whatever sort of sauce they

want on there, with nary a care about making something with any

subtlety. It's almost lowest common denominator Applebee's-style

cooking, and until chefs start to give a shit about it, it's off the


And sirloin burgers? Look people, if you haven't yet

figured out that this is the total poseur burger, you're reading the

wrong column. They're served at parties by people who want to look like

they're on top of the latest fad -- burger and beer, for those of you

who haven't hit South Beach lately. The same people who buy ground

sirloin also pay extra for expensive-yet-crappy beer. But burgers are

about flavor, and we all know the flava's in the fat, so sirloin burger

is just an oxymoron.

If you want a burger, make it from market

ground beef and enjoy the hell out of it. If you're amped about fat

content, then try a boring slab of white meat turkey and take a photo

to give your cardiologist at your next checkup. Either way though, the

sirloin burger is as useless as tits on a bull.

The list isn't

comprehensive, but it's a start. I'll take beef cheeks, oxtail, beef

heart, or pig feet tamales (coming soon to these pages, by the way) any

day over any one of these dogs. They're an insult to meatists

everywhere, and mock us from menus at otherwise decent restaurants.

Bradford Schmidt is The Meatist. He's also author of the blog Bone in the Fan.

He lives in northern Palm Beach County and wants to grow his own pequin

peppers, just in case he bumps into a filet he's forced to eat.

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