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Steak Tasting

September 29, 2010

Tasting week goes on, although this steak tasting wasn’t on the original slate.

As I’ve mentioned before, my in-laws are in town.  So Mrs. Fussy and I went on a date to Garden Bistro 24, a great restaurant with a terrible name.  The menu offers a few bistro classics, most notably moules frites in addition to two kinds of steak frites.  I wanted to taste them all, and Mrs. Fussy was game for sharing.  She’s the greatest.

But after a half bowl of mussels with crusty French bread, two orders of fries, one and a half steaks, and a crème brulee I couldn’t really face sitting down for my scheduled ice cream tasting.  Even the soda tasting seemed a bit much.  All I wanted was a nice, soothing absinthe.

As it turned out, when I got home one of the ice creams was eaten by the in-laws anyway.  So I’ve got to go back to the market before attempting the ice cream challenge again.  Maybe tomorrow.

Still, thanks to Mrs. Fussy and her parents I get to talk about different cuts of beef.

I don’t eat a lot of beef these days.  I would like to say it has something to do with my health and managing my dietary cholesterol.  But given the butter tasting from yesterday, I doubt anyone would believe that.

In actuality I find the way commercial beef is raised in this country to be largely unappetizing.  Yet on occasion I let that go and just enjoy a steak.  One of these days I’m going to bite the bullet and go in with someone on some grass fed and finished freezer beef from some local rancher.  But I digress.  Last night was one of those nights when I tucked my concerns in with the kids and left them at home while I enjoyed a nice steak dinner.

The two cuts of steak offered at Garden Bistro 24 are the hanger steak and the flat iron.

I’ve long been a fan of the hanger steak, which I sometimes like to call by its French name onglet because it just sounds awesome.  This cut has been gaining in popularity over the last several years.  But because there is only one of these in every cow, and it’s really tasty, butchers used to save it for themselves.

Thanks to the global meat market and the unimaginable volume of carcasses processed, there seems to be no shortage of hanger steak to go around.  It’s a mixed blessing.

Mrs. Fussy called the hanger steak.  Oh yes, she did.  I was told under no uncertain terms that if I wanted to try the flat iron steak that I’d have to order it myself.  But I would be able to have at least a bite of the hanger.  In the end I got almost half of it (she was stuffed, and couldn’t eat any more).

The flat iron steak is a relatively thin but very tender piece of meat.  Officially it comes from the shoulder, and depending on how it is cut may or may not be divided by a layer of tough connective tissue.  The Garden Bistro 24 flat iron did not contain the connective tissue, and I was fine with that.

Here’s the surprise.  Despite hanger steak being a long time favorite of mine, I actually preferred the flat iron.  It wasn’t as fully flavored as the hanger steak, but still it was nicely beefy.  And while I enjoy the bit of chew that comes with hanger steak, the flat iron was the more tender of the two.  It was a great intersection of taste and texture.

Maybe now that I’m old I like my meat a little less toothsome.

It’s not every meal that you get to eat two different cuts of meat and determine which one is the best.  At the French Laundry I was served rack and loin of rabbit – it came with a cute little rabbit kidney on top too.  These kinds of feasts are truly special occasions.  And they are fun to share with the special people in your life.

Now go.  You can get both of these steaks, with crisp fries and a token amount of salad greens on the plate, for a grand total of $23 (plus tax and tip).  That’s cheaper than one entree at a lot of mediocre places around Albany.  When you are done, come back and tell me which one you prefer.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2010 9:42 am

    I wrote up this great little restaurant on my blog a few weeks ago (before Meatless Month began). I, too, preferred the flat iron steak, and was a bit surprised.

    How were the mussels? I’m curious to try them, but my husband doesn’t eat seafood, so I’d be on my own with them.

    • Chris permalink
      September 29, 2010 11:24 am

      Yes, anyone who has tried them, please report on the mussels. I am eager to visit this weekend and plan on trying them out.

      • September 29, 2010 8:45 pm

        I’ve been twice, ordering mussels both times (and stole some from my boyfriend since he ordered a different sauce). The mussels were tender, not rubbery, and one’s served (according to my appetite) an amount that’s nicely filling–especially after using the bread to sop up the remaining sauce.

        The three sauces I tasted were saffron/tarragon sauce & dijon were both specials, and white wine/shallot from the menu. All had a strong personality, so don’t expect a lot of delicate/pure mussel flavor.

        One quibble is both times the bowl included a few closed mussels that needed to be laid aside. I’m not super-offended by getting closed mussels (especially at a more casual place), it’s just a bit of a tease!

        And…. I planned visit #3 today. So it’s fair to say I’d recommend it.

  2. September 29, 2010 10:50 am

    I too enjoyed the flat iron more than the hanger steak. I thought the hanger was too tough for me and the flat iron pretty much melted in my mouth. I have the hardest time choosing between the steak and the mussels there.

    I hear they are serving brunch on the weekends now though I can’t seem to find a menu or hours, it’s not on their facebook either. Has anyone been for brunch yet?

  3. September 29, 2010 1:49 pm

    Garden Bistro 24 is a cool little place. I have tried both steaks but slightly prefer the hangar steak. Read my review here:

    I only wish they gave everyone the portion they gave Steve Barnes (as I mention in my post)

  4. September 29, 2010 7:17 pm

    I am looking forward to trying them out.

    On another note, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of similarity between the ordering attitudes Mrs. Fussy and I hold. If it’s good, I want all of it. But then again, I tend to fill up quickly, so the point is soon moot, leaving the Mr. the opportunity towards most of what I was originally claiming as my own.

    However, I also usually want to try everything that looks good, which results in a lot of food left over in general.

  5. September 30, 2010 10:12 pm

    Wow thanks for posting as I was going to ignore the Garden Bistro for its unfortunate name and location in the forlorn looking strip mall. Will need to try now.

  6. Ellen Whitby permalink
    October 1, 2010 12:22 am

    Ahhh…the French have such good words for food…”onglet” is only one of them. There’s “chiffonade”, “roux”, “pain” and (my personal favorite) “croissant”.

    Thanks for adding culture.

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