Steak is complicated. People love it; people think it is easy to cook, and often believe they do it better than most restaurants. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it is true that many people believe it.
Culturally we think we have steak down pat. Chuck it on the barbie, flip it once, and Bob’s your uncle. But really, it is just like chicken, in that it is often well over cooked, as opposed to well cooked. It is supposed to be easy, but I think that is more perception than reality.
The reality is we are familiar with steak and it is forgiving to the majority of us who are not overly fussy. We quite happily pay $15 at the pub, knowing that the product being served is less than ideal. But funnily enough, we are used to average steak. We are used to buying it, cooking it, eating it, and serving it.
How many times have you said “it wasn’t the best steak I’ve ever had, but it’s fine”. This is why there is such disparity in the quality and price of this dish across restaurants in Australia. The Station Hotel in Footscray has been towards the top of the steak game for many years. Tonight I’m paying around $35 for porterhouse steak with confidence.
My steak is simply presented and perfectly medium rare as I ordered. You cannot expect and you certainly don’t get the same for $15 at most pubs, on a consistent basis. The bearnaise sauce, another sign of technical excellence, not often in the repertoire of your average home cook, is easily my favourite accompaniment for any steak.
Is it value? Not every single time. But experiences like this make me wonder why I don’t get to places like The Station Hotel more often.