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Prime Steaks

| By John Mariani | From Maduro Issue, Winter 93/94

If you want to know how seriously Americans take their steak, rent a video of John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, in which outlaw Valance, played by a reptilian Lee Marvin, causes lawyer-turned-waiter Jimmy Stewart to drop John Wayne's steak on the floor of a Western eating house.

Wayne, having told the cook to "burn me a good thick one," is infuriated and snarls: "That's my steak, Valance. Pick it up." Marvin barks at Stewart: "You heard him. Pick it up." Wayne puts his hand near his six-shooter and repeats, "I said you, Liberty. You pick it up." Just as the two gunslingers are about to draw on each other, Stewart retrieves the steak and shouts, "There! What's the matter? Is everybody in this country kill crazy? You woulda killed him for one measly steak!"

And at the risk of offending Mom, apple-pie makers of America and the girl next door, what did Hollywood GIs like William Bendix and Richard Conte really dream about in those foxholes? A two-inch T-bone smothered in onions, with a baked potato on the side and a pitcher of cold beer. Beefsteaks are as tied to American machismo as old blues songs like "It Ain't the Meat, It's the Motion."

For most men and many women, a good thick steak represents one of the purest pleasures of gastronomy, but for others it symbolizes unbridled gluttony. Despite all the nutritional "terrorism" of the 1980s, Americans are still consuming prodigious amounts of beef--66.4 pounds per person last year. That's about 16.9 billion pounds annually, with 280 million pounds grilled on Father's Day alone, and another 200 million steaks thrown on the grill when the Fourth of July rolls around.

The beef industry loves to repeat the cliché that, while Americans may be eating about half the beef they did 20 years ago, when a man wants a steak, he wants a good one and is willing to pay handily for it. For this reason, America's most expensive steakhouses, from Peter Luger in Brooklyn to the Grill in Beverly Hills, are doing gangbuster business, and chains like Ruth's Chris, Morton's, and Palm are opening up more and more units every year, each one of them serving highly marbleized, fat-rich U.S. Prime.

With this proliferation, the need to know what you're getting becomes more important than ever, as even a big-league beefeater--the kind of man who thinks nothing of putting away a 16-ounce sirloin, a platter of french fries, a three-inch slice of cheesecake, a bottle of Cabernet, and then smoking a good cigar with a glass of Port--may know little or nothing about the beef he's eating. Even assuming that all the better steakhouses use high-grade meat, the differences in cut, preparation and price vary widely, as does quality itself. Most steakeaters regard good beef as an American birthright and assume there is an endless supply of U.S. Prime, like Ford Fiestas and lawyer jokes.

"I haven't had an empty table in 12 years," says Pat Cetta, who, with his brother Mike, owns Sparks Steak House in New York. It is a sentiment echoed in other New York beef emporiums like Peter Luger, Palm, Smith & Wollensky, Ben Benson's, Gallagher's, and the Old Homestead. This year the Palm chain will expand its current 11 units, Morton's of Chicago will add to its 18, and Ruth's Chris, out of New Orleans, is aiming for 35 or more units before the end of next year, including, like Morton's, a recent move into the big league, New York, in the fall.

Going into the tough New York market is a scary proposition for a steakhouse chain, but it is done for the same reason clothing designers open in Paris, opera singers go to Milan and gamblers to Monte Carlo. Those are the places that establish the standards, set the mold and form the traditions. For while chophouses and beefeaters' clubs existed in 18th-century London, the American steakhouse as we know it is really a phenomenon of the Prohibition era in New York.

True, the Old Homestead in Manhattan opened in 1868, Keens Chop House in 1885, Brooklyn's Gage & Tollner debuted in 1879, and Peter Luger in 1887, but those revered establishments drew more on English and German models. Luger still features only one cut of steak--the sliced porterhouse, a term derived from English taverns serving porter beer and popularized about 1814 as a steak in America by porterhouse proprietor Martin Morrison in New York.

The New York steakhouse--a term still used outside New York to draw customers in the same way ads proclaim "London pub" or "Parisian bistro"--developed along lines drawn at Palm (1926) and Gallagher's (1927), both of which originated as speakeasies during the Noble Experiment of Prohibition. Palm was run by two Italians, John Ganzi and Pio Bozzi, on Second Avenue. (The name was supposed to be "Parma," after the owners' hometown, but a city bureaucrat spelled it wrong on an official document, and so "Palm" it remained.) Gallagher's, on 52nd Street off Broadway, was named after former Ziegfeld-girl-turned-speakeasy-owner, Helen Gallagher. Both places democratically served a little beer, a little hooch and a little beefsteak to everyone from New York's politicians and journalists to Café Society, who sometimes got their pictures or caricatures put up on the walls. Such places had a swagger, a very masculine feel to them and a perception of exclusivity that made everyone want to go there.

After Prohibition ended in 1933, Palm, Gallagher's, Jack Lyons, Manny Wolf, Cavanaugh's, Christ Cella and Farrish's flourished. New York steakhouses got the best meat because they paid the most and charged the highest prices. The menu, rarely varied, became a formula for success: prime beef, lamb chops, lobsters, fried potatoes and cheesecake were pretty much the whole shebang. Wine lists were unknown until the 1980s, when Sparks and Smith & Wollensky invested heavily in wine cellars, winning some of the earliest awards from the Wine Spectator; both still hold the magazine's Grand Awards for their lists. Today Smith & Wollensky prides itself on having one of the largest selections of Cabernet Sauvignons in the world.

The decor was copycat, too: red-checkered or white tablecloths, unfinished furniture, varnished wood, inexpensive flatware and china, big oak bar and brusque waiters in ill-fitting, tan jackets apparently all bought from the same warehouse. Some, like Christ Cella, were as bare bones as a schoolroom; others, like Gallagher's, were decked out with autographed portraits of Broadway and sports legends. But they all expressed the no-nonsense, no-frills, we-don't-need-you attitude that made them both exasperating and irresistible--so that going to a New York steakhouse became a rite of passage for a young executive on his way up, the kind of place where you had to prove you belonged before they'd accept you.

But the supremacy of the New York steakhouse was always due to its service of U.S. Prime beef--and not just Prime, but the best Prime available. The simple fact is, until about 1980, almost no restaurants except New York steakhouses even bought Prime beef, which has never totaled more than 2 percent of all beef production in this country and usually stays steady at about 1 percent. Even after restaurants in Chicago, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and California began buying Prime, New York still had dibs on the finest available in the market. "The truth is, New York still pays the most and gets the best," acknowledges Henry Norton, owner of the superb Chicago Chop House in Chicago.

The distinctions that make one steak--even a Prime steak--good and another pure ecstasy are grounded in the realities of an industry where a lot of people will tell you anything you want to hear and make you believe it. One thing everyone in the steakhouse industry knows is that it's getting tougher and tougher to get Prime and that no matter what you pay, it's not going to taste as good as it did 20 years ago.

While all beef is inspected for health reasons by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), grading of meat by the agency is done only at the request of the meat packer, who pays a fee to a USDA grader. Over the past decade, the USDA, under pressure from the beef industry, has consistently lowered standards for fat and marbling in beef. The ostensible reason for this is to encourage leaner meat in the American diet, but it handily enables beef producers to reduce costs: it takes eight pounds of grain to build one pound of beef; a leaner animal costs less to produce. As a result, the higher grade of Choice may now be graded "low Prime," and within the Prime category itself, three degrees of marbling are recognized.

"I could put two pieces of Prime meat in front of you, and you'd see the difference immediately in the marbling," says Brian Reidy, general manager of Gallagher's. "The USDA has gotten so lax with its grading that it's become a joke, and a steakhouse operator has to be very demanding to get top quality. We buy only meat on the bone and butcher it and age it ourselves. That way we can tell the age and sex of the animal. The containers come in on Monday or Tuesday, we get the meat on Wednesday or Thursday and we never take meat on Friday because those are the leftovers. We then date it and dry age it for three more weeks at 36 degrees in our own lockers, so we control that steak every step of the way."

Indeed, when you go to Gallagher's, you'll actually see the meat hanging in the cold locker in the window. "What you see is what you get here," says Reidy.

At Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Florida, the steaks are aged in their own lockers for an extraordinary five to eight weeks. The gargantuan menu offers customers 62 options for cut and degree of done-ness on a steak.

"Even though we are one of the best-known steakhouses in the world, we occasionally have problems getting the quality U.S. Prime we want," explains David Laxer, the son of the owner. "This summer we had a tough time getting it, and when the Japanese come into the market, the supplies get very short."

Alfred Thimm, CEO for Palm restaurants, concurs: "It's harder and harder to get a consistently good product. We have a lot of clout in the industry, but we also have our own meat company--JORM [Just One Restaurant More] that operates as a wholesale business whose only customers are Palm steakhouses."

Almost all Prime meat is bought from a handful of Midwest meat packers, principally IBP out of Nebraska, Monfort out of Colorado, and Excel out of Kansas. These companies don't raise cattle; they slaughter and pack it up in a Cryovac bag for shipment to wholesalers, retailers and restaurants. If the meat is left in the Cryovac bag with its own juices, "wet aging" (actually a form of decay) takes place at a slower rate. "Dry aging" refers to meat removed from the bag and aged in cold, dry lockers, a process preferred by the best steakhouses.

Because of the proliferation of steakhouses around the country, many industry veterans wonder just how low competitors are willing to go to get what they call Prime.

"Listen," says Pat Cetta of Sparks, which maintains its own proprietary aging cycle, "The difference between Choice and Prime can be $6 or $7 a pound, and some guys are buying black Angus, which is a stockier animal with a shorter loin, but it's not the best breed for a great steak. Others use what are called 'gravy cuts,' whose water-soluble proteins and collagens go out of the meat when it's cooked and make good gravy. That doesn't happen in a great steak."

Other steakhouse owners don't worry quite so much about the supply of Prime. Ruth Fertel, owner of the Ruth's Chris chain, argues, "the truest supply-and-demand commodity is beef. As long as there's a demand for Prime, the producers will produce it. If Ruth's Chris is going to open up another two or three units, I call my supplier three or four months in advance and tell him what our needs will be and he'll have the meat for us."

While most industry spokespeople say that kind of supply and demand can be met, they caution that raising cattle for Prime is not quite as mechanical as building VCRs--or as predictable. The facts of animal husbandry dictate that it takes about two-and-a-half years for a steer to grow big enough for slaughter, and, based on the breed and the individual animal's genetics, there's no assurance that you'll get a steer with enough interior fat to grade out at Prime.

"No large producer targets Prime," says Terry Dockerty, director of meat-science programs at the National Livestock and Meat Board. "It's just not very economical for a producer to feed an animal longer so that it grows much fatter. Remember, it is the meat packers who request the grading, not the producers." Harry Katz of Stockyards Packing Co., a Chicago wholesaler, agrees: "I don't think anybody is taking out cattle just to make them Prime meat. I couldn't. And right now, if a new account of mine wanted to buy only Prime, I'd have to turn them down. There's just not enough out there."

The fact is, Prime is more or less an accident of breeding, not a coerced result. "To a small extent, you can bulk up an animal by extra feeding," says Jens Knutsons, director of economic research and industry affairs for the American Meat Institute, "but it's really a function of genetics. There are about 70 different breeds of cattle in this country, and only a very few make a good beef animal because they tend to put on the kind of intermuscular fat that producers want. Producers don't want external fat, because they have to trim it off and their yield is lower. But the main thing is that some individual animals put on more fat while others in the same herd, eating the same feed, don't. And those fatter steers are the ones that grade Prime after they've been slaughtered."

As Pat Cetta says, "There's no mystery to it. People are waiting for a magic supplier or producer. It doesn't exist. You just have to be able to look at an individual carcass and cartilage and say, 'that one's good; that one's not so good.' We buy only the best of what's in the market."

Another bone of contention has to do with what the animal eats. Some, like Ruth Ferrel, swear they use only animals raised on corn.

Others, like the Chicago Chop House, contend that finishing off a steer on alfalfa gives it a nice sweet flavor. And others in the industry say it's almost impossible to tell what the animal ate. "Fat's fat," says one producer.

Assuming that there will be an adequate, if not plentiful, supply of good beef in the future, what is it that distinguishes one great steakhouse from another? In the case of a restaurant like Smith & Wollensky, the attraction of a great wine list is significant, but offering a wide menu of soups, salads, seafood and an array of desserts by an Austrian pastry chef gives it a wider audience, including more women than go to traditional steakhouses.

This additional female-customer base is certainly the case at Chops in Atlanta, where designer Pat Kuleto married elements of traditional steakhouse decor to rather glamorous, subdued lighting some women feel comfortable in. The Capital Grill steakhouses in Providence and Boston promote family dining, and the grand restoration of the cavernous boiler room of the Providence train station has made the restaurant as much an attraction as a place to eat.

At Bern's Steak House in Tampa, the decor has been called everything from kitschy to bordellolike, but in addition to stocking the world's largest wine list--2,500 pages, with more than 300 dessert wines--owner Bern Laxer grows his own organic vegetables and herbs, has specially built water tanks for live fish, offers more than two dozen caviars and serves more than 65 different kinds of dessert each night in a series of upstairs dessert rooms (each of which have two television monitors so that customers can watch The Simpsons or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). There's also a pianist who takes requests via closed circuitry. Last but not least, Bern's measures out vermouth out by the eyedropper for Martini drinkers.

At the Chicago Chop House, they do an extraordinary bar business and feature a Prime Rib No. 1, which is charred before roasting and takes on a wonderfully succulent flavor.

Morton's of Chicago has always prided itself on having a distinct Windy City style, and the original, opened in 1978, was characterized by owner Arnie Morton as a "comfortable saloon." Morton himself had been director of Playboy's worldwide dining operations, and the restaurant had a definite Midwestern masculine bravado that continues to this day in the 29-unit chain, now owned by Quantum Restaurant Group Inc. Unlike the no-frills look of Palm and the extravagance of Bern's, the Morton's restaurants are built around a clubbish atmosphere of dark woods and subdued lighting accented by Leroy Neiman prints (Neiman was Playboy's quintessential sports artist) as well as historic photos of the city in which each restaurant is located.

New York's Old Homestead is unique for offering Japanese Kobe (actually wagyu) beef, an incredibly rich meat from a steer that is fed on beer and gets massaged by hand every day. Even at $100 per one-pound steak, the restaurant sells plenty, although their $20 sampler portion is a much saner way to taste something that tastes closer to pure butter than beef.

Even competitors of Peter Luger admit that the porterhouse served at this Brooklyn institution is the finest in the world. Part of Luger's appeal is the adventuresome trip to get there, through some of the rougher, tougher parts of Brooklyn, where an attendant has to watch your car or hold a cab for you. Luger's waiters, who will usually dissuade you from ordering anything but porterhouse, slice the steak in thick slabs for everyone at your table. It comes with some overly sweet steak sauce on the side, good creamed spinach and crispy fried potatoes.

"We never use boxed meat [from a] Cryovac," says Luger's president and family member, Marilyn Spiera. "My mother, Marsha Forman, who is 78, and my sister Amy Rubenstein and my daughter Jody Storch still go down to the meat markets and pick out only what we feel is the absolute best. A lot of the meat they now sell as 'Prime' wouldn't even be graded 'Choice' 35 years ago. But to get the best Prime porterhouse and keep our prices reasonable, our food costs are astronomical: for every pound of meat we buy, after trimming and discarding, we get half a pound left to serve. When we were audited over sales taxes, we had to show the auditors our food costs because they couldn't believe they were so high. Frankly, if we were in Manhattan, where rents are sky-high, we couldn't survive and keep the same quality we now serve."

Ruth's Chris is famous for the sizzling platter on which your steak arrives, and the chain depends heavily on its name recognition and consistency of product so that steak lovers will know exactly what they're getting, whatever city they're in. "We know it's a big challenge for us to try to crack the New York market," says Fertel, "but we also believe that those customers who love our steaks in New Orleans or Washington, D.C., or Orlando will love them just as much when they go to New York."

There have been some other new ideas in the steakhouse field that are gaining momentum. In Houston, Michael and Glen Cordua have made churrascos--marinated beef grilled over charcoal--a namesake mainstay at their two Churrascos restaurants, and in New York, the lowly but beloved Parisian cut called the onglet (or hanger steak) has become all the rage at places like Les Halles. Other bistro-style steakhouses, like New York's Steak Frites, feature the rib eye, one of the juiciest, fattiest cuts preferred outside New York. But no matter how it's served, what it's accompanied by, who's eating it or what it costs, American steaks still satisfy a primal need. As Pat Cetta says, "Steaks are a lot like sex. Every once in a while you need a little."

A History of Steak

Beef was a negligible part of the American diet until well after the Civil War. For one thing, cattle aren't indigenous to the Americas; Native Americans depended on wild game and buffalo for their meat. Domesticated cattle didn't arrive in the New World until the Spanish introduced them into Mexico in 1540. Spanish longhorned steers were brought in 150 years later in the territory that is now Texas, but with the abandonment of the missions, the cattle went wild and bred themselves into the first American breed, known as the longhorn.

Permanent Spanish settlements in the 18th century fostered ranching, and in 1779 the French initiated cattle drives from San Antonio to New Orleans. But it was not until the late 1860s, when the railroad made the transport of cattle feasible, that longhorns were driven in large numbers from Texas and Oklahoma up the legendary Chisholm and Shawnee trails, with 600,000 head making the journey in 187I. The drives' heyday fizzled quickly: during the bitterly cold winter of 1886-'87, 90 percent of the herds were wiped out and the cattle drives were soon abandoned.

Technology, animal husbandry and barbed wire had already changed the industry, however. The introduction of British breeds like Angus, shorthorn and Hereford bolstered the American stocks and made them better beef animals. The longhorn was a breed whose namesake prongs were difficult to ship and the breed was pretty much phased out. In 1871 a Detroit meat packer named G.H. Hammond brought refrigerated railway cars west, transforming an industry that only had to set up slaughterhouses in the Midwest for shipment of carcasses back East, where a roaring appetite for beef started building. And the invention of barbed wire was revolutionary--now the range could be easily fenced off and cattle, which used to lose enormous amounts of weight on the cattle drives, stood around and quickly got fat in feed lots.

In 1894, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) summed up for all time the universal and irresistible appeal of beefsteak to an American.

In A Tramp Abroad, he wrote:

[It was] a mighty porterhouse steak an inch and a half thick, hot and sputtering from the griddle; dusted with fragrant pepper; enriched with little melting bits of butter of the most unimpeachable freshness and genuineness; the precious juices of the meat trickling out and joining the gravy, archipelagoed with mushrooms; a township or two of tender, yellowish fat gracing an outlying district of this ample country of beefsteak; the long white bone which divides the sirloin from the tenderloin still in place.

By the turn of the century, Americans had constant access to beef (though pork was still the more common diet staple), and the publication of Upton Sinclair's muckraking novel The Jungle in 1906 led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Law that regulated the industry for sanitation and disease-free animals.

After the Second World War, beef became a symbol of American prosperity: we were gobbling up 62 pounds per person annually by 1952; 99 pounds by 1960, and an all-time high of 114 pounds in 1970. Then consumption started to slip, not out of favor so much as out of fashion (we've always eaten much more beef than pork, veal and lamb combined). Yet despite health concerns over too much animal fat and cholesterol in our diet, the richest of all meats--U.S. Prime--is selling as fast as it can be butchered. Even McLean Deluxe--McDonald's low-fat burger--was a disaster at the low end of the food scale.

Making the Grade

The grading of beef is a voluntary program that the USDA provides to meat packers who pay a fee for the service. The USDA standards include two separate designations--Quality Grades and Yield Grades--designated by a stamp on the exterior fat of the carcass. For this reason, the filet mignon, which is a cut that comes from the narrow end of the whole beef tenderloin, is not separately graded or stamped.

Quality Grades refer to a piece of beef's "expected eating characteristics" like tenderness, juiciness and flavor, and range from the lowest grade, "Canner," up to "Select," "Choice" and the highest, "Prime." Quality grades evaluate the age of the meat, color, and marbling--intramuscular fat--within the rib eye. The higher the percentage of marbling, the more likely the meat will be juicy, tender and flavorful.

Yield Grades estimate beef carcass "curability," defined as the "combined yield of closely trimmed, boneless retail cuts from the round, loin, rib and chuck." Evaluation is made on the basis of exterior fat thickness, rib-eye area and carcass weight, and kidney, pelvic and heart fat percentage. Yield grading is obviously of more interest to the meat packer than the consumer, who has probably never heard of it.

Making the Cut

What are the differences in nomenclature between cuts of beef? Back in 1973, the National Live Stock and Meat Board recommended about 300 standard names be used for cuts of meat--garnered from thousands of regional names that, to this day, confuse customers as to what they're getting. Here are the descriptions most widely used across the nation:

Beef: General term for the meat of a full-grown steer, ox, cow or bull.

Prime Rib: The meat between the primal chuck and short loin containing seven ribs. Prime rib, often encountered on menus and considered the most desirable part of the animal, is from this section, but does not always mean the meat is graded U.S. Prime.

Delmonico Steak: A boned rib roast, named after Delmonico's restaurant in New York, where it was a popular 19th-century cut. It is sometimes called a club steak.

London Broil: Usually refers to flank steak, cut from the belly section below the loin, though sometimes it may come from the hind leg of the animal.

Porterhouse: Contains the top loin, the tenderloin and the tail, retaining the "T-bone."

Filet Mignon: Also called tournedos, or Chateaubriand, this is the most tender, but least marbleized piece of meat cut from the narrow end of the tenderloin.

Shell: Generally refers to what is left of the porterhouse after the tail and filet mignon are cut away, usually retaining the bone. Without the bone it may be called a strip, New York strip or Kansas City strip.

Top Steakhouses

THE GRILL-9560 Dayton Way, Beverly Hills (310) 276-0615.

THE OCCIDENTAL GRILL-1475 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.(202) 783-1475.

BERN'S STEAK HOUSE-South Howard Ave. (813) 251-2421.

CHRISTIE's-3101 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables (305) 446-1400.

RUNYON's-9810 West Sample Rd., Coral Springs (305) 752-2333.

CHRIS'S HOUSE OF BEEF-801 John Young Parkway (407) 295-1931.

CHOPS-70 West Paces Ferry Rd. (404) 262-2675.

BONE'S-3130 Piedmont Rd. (404) 237-2663.

CHICAGO CHOP HOUSE-60 West Ontario St. (312) 787-7100.
GENE & GEORGETTI-500 North Franklin (312) 527-3718.
MORTON'S-1050 North St. (312) 266-4820.

PAT'S STEAK HOUSE-2437 Brownsboro Rd. (502) 896-9234.


RUTH'S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE-Two locations: 711 North Broad St. (504) 486-0810 3633 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, (504) 888-3600.
33 other locations across the United States.
CRESCENT CITY STEAK-1001 North Broad St. (504) 821-3271.

GRILL 23 & BAR-161 Berkeley St. (617) 542-2255.

THE PRIME RIB-1101 North Calvert St. (301) 539-1804.

CARL'S CHOP HOUSE-3020 Grand River Ave. (313) 833-0700.

JESS & JIM'S STEAK HOUSE-135 and Locust Sts., Martin City (816) 942-9909.

AL'S-1200 North Main St. (314) 421-6399.
DIERDORF & HART'S STEAK HOUSE-323 West Port Plaza (314) 878-1801.

BEN BENSON'S-123 West 52nd St. (212) 265-7770.
CHRIST CELLA-160 East 46th St. (212) 697-2479.
GALLAGHER's-228 West 52nd St. (212) 245-5336.
KEENS CHOPHOUSE-72 West 36th St. (212) 947-3636.
THE OLD HOMESTEAD-56 Ninth Ave. (212) 242-9040.
PALM-837 Second Ave. (212) 687-2953.
Eleven branches across the United States.
PEN & PENCIL-205 East 45th St. (212) 682-8660
PETER LUGER-178 Broadway, Brooklyn (718) 387-7400.
SMITH & WOLLENSKY-201 East 49th St. (212) 753-1530.
SPARKS-210 East 46th St. (212) 687-4855.
STEAK FRITES-9 East 16th St. (212) 463-7101.

THE PRECINCT-311 Delta Ave. (513) 321-5454.

DIAMOND GRILLE-77 West Market (216) 376-1216.

THE TOP STEAK HOUSE-2891 East Main St. (614) 231-8238.

THE PINE CLUB-1926 Brown St. (513) 226-9064.

THE COLONY-Greentree and Cochran Rds., Greentree (412) 561-2060.

THE CAPITAL GRILLE-One Cookson Place (401) 521-5600.
Another branch in Boston.

HOFFBRAU STEAKS-3205 Knox St. (214) 559-2680.

CHURRASCOS-two locations, 9788 Bissonnet (713) 541-2100 and 2055 Westheimer (713) 527-8300.
TRULUCK'S STEAK & STONE CRAB-5919 Westheimer (713) 783-7270.
ROTISSERIE FOR BEEF AND BIRD-2200 Wilcrest Drive (713) 977-9524.

SALLY'S STEAK HOUSE-1028 East Juneau Ave. (414) 272-5363.

A Prime Price Guide to a Few Selected Restaurants

24-ounce porterhouse, $28.95

16-ounce New York strip, $27.50

18-ounce sirloin steak, $28
18-ounce sirloin steak, $29.75
14-ounce sirloin steak, $29.95

14-ounce Delmonico steak, $31.95