Living High on the Steer

Our expanded online guide to the area's best steakhouses.

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Pietro’s Prime’s cowboy ribeye with shrimp scampi garnish (Photo by Steve Legato)Go ahead, knock red meat all you want. But when it comes to good eating—at least for us carnivores—very little comes close to a well-cut hunk of USDA Prime beef cooked to a luscious medium-rare and sheathed in a smoky-sweet, caramelized exterior. Throw in sautéed mushrooms, a dollop of Gorgonzola cheese, and a sip of robust red wine, and you’ve got a mouthful worth drooling over.

If your favorite steakhouse has left you asking, “Where’s the beef?”—don’t despair. The local competition has only gotten fiercer, as this cheat sheet straight from the steakhouses proves.

Barclay Prime

237 S. 18th St., Philadelphia; (215) 732-7560,
Wet- or dry-aged: Dry.
Broiled or grilled: The broiler gets a major workout every day.
Seasoning secrets: Salt and black pepper.
Most popular cuts: Ribeye, filet and NY strip.
Prime: Yes, porterhouse and ribeye.
Kobe: Yes, from the Australian company Tajima.
Prepackaged or in-house cuts: The only product not cut in-house is the porterhouse.
Old-school or modern appeal: A luxury boutique steakhouse with a very modern feel from the menu to the décor.
Top sides: Creamed spinach, truffle whipped potatoes, and Tater Tots.
Signature cocktail: The “Ginger.”  
Wine philosophy: Diversity, compatibility and value.
Must-order dish: The hand-cut, 36-ounce Tajima porterhouse.
For the non-carnivore: Customized dishes for vegetarian guests, plus seafood entrées like pacific wild salmon, halibut, Dover sole, and butter-poached lobster.
Signature dessert: Toasted Peanut Butter S’mores, made in-house by pastry chef Frank Urso and his team.
How rare is rare: Too rare is mooing. But Barclay Prime typically defines “rare” as having a cool, red center.
Average number of covers on Saturday: 275-310.

Brandywine Prime

Routes 1 and 100, Chadds Ford; (610) 388-8088,
Wet- or dry-aged: Dry-aged offered as a special, and typically a ribeye.
Broiled or grilled: Seared on a griddle, then finished to temperature under a steakhouse broiler.
Seasoning: Kosher salt, fresh-cracked black pepper, and a dollop of maitre d’hôtel (herbed) butter.
Must-order dishes: Ribeye (dry-aged), barrel-cut ribeye “filet” (only the eye of the steak), N.Y. strip, filet, bone-in filet.
Old-school or modern appeal: Straightforward seasoning of well-marbled meats; trends toward the younger diner.
Best deals: Bistro steak and half-price burger on Fridays.
Top sides: Lobster mashed potatoes, Kennett Square mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes (in-season).
Wine philosophy: Small, quality-minded artisanal producers.
For the non-carnivore: Pan-seared tuna with basmati rice and a light cucumber froth.
Signature dessert: Decadent ice creams made in-house.
Best lunchtime steak creation: Chadds Ford cheese steak—grilled, sliced hanger with blue cheese and Kennett Square mushrooms—served next door at sister restaurant Bistro on the Brandywine.
Cost of dinner for two: Around $100.

Shane Cash, great-nephew of Johnny Cash, runs the kitchen at Stephen Starr’s Butcher and Singer (Photo by Steve Legato)

Butcher and Singer

1500 Walnut St., Philadelpha; (215) 732-4444,
 Wet- or dry-aged: Dry-aged porterhouse and wet-aged prime beef from a local farm.
Broiled or grilled: Broiled.
Seasoning: Signature house spice with 18 ingredients.
Most popular cuts: Delmonico, filet mignon, dry-aged porterhouse.
Prepackaged or in-house cuts: In-house.
Old-school or modern appeal: Clubhouse feel reminiscent of the Brown Derby in Los Angeles and the 21 Club in New York; nostalgic, classic dishes.
Best deals: Single- and double-cut dry-aged porterhouse steaks.
Top sides: Hash-brown pie, green beans amandine, mushrooms.
Signature cocktails: The Manhattan, Pink Lady, Sidecar, Gimlet and other vintage drinks.
Private-party perks: The coveted back table for 16, removed from the main dining room but with a bird’s-eye view of all that’s going on.
For the non-carnivore: Lobster Thermidor.
Signature dessert: Baked Alaska made in-house.
Best lunchtime steak creations: Ribeye sandwich served with watercress, onions and horseradish; the warm steak salad.
Average Saturday crowd: 300.
Cost of dinner for two: Around $160.

The Capital Grille

1338 Chestnut St., Philadelphia; (215) 545-9588,
Wet- or dry-aged: Dry-aged is the specialty.
Broiled or grilled: Broiled.
Seasoning: It’s a secret—but try the Kona-crusted dry-aged sirloin, with its coating of special seasonings and coffee.
Most popular cuts: Filet mignon, dry-aged sirloin, dry-aged porterhouse, prime ribeye.
Prime: Dry-aged certified Angus and prime beef.
Kobe: Wagyu beef carpaccio served as an appetizer.
Prepackaged or in-house cuts: In-house.
Best deal: 30 wines for $30 or less per bottle.
Top sides: Fresh creamed spinach, lobster mac ’n’ cheese.
Signature cocktail: The Stoli Doli martini with pineapple-infused Stolichnaya vodka, chilled and served straightup.
Wine philosophy: Old World meets New.
Must-order dish: Porcini-rubbed Delmonico with 12-year-aged balsamic vinegar.
Best lunchtime steak creation: Boneless prime ribeye steak sandwich with caramelized onions and Havarti cheese on a grilled French loaf.
Cost of dinner for two: $150-$175.

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