As a teenager, my only exposure to steak was at our French restaurant. It was a local cut of tenderloin steak with the bearnaise sauce. With onion rings on the side, it was my go-to dish every time I visited the restaurant.
From there, I graduated to a more sophisticated steak as a student at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Our agriculture school had its own cattle and they would butcher and offer the steaks at our school fine dining steak house called The Beef. I later on found out that it was a USDA Prime grade Roast Prime Rib cut, slow roasted and served with just au jus so one could taste the robust and marble-rich flavor of the superior beef.
Another steak place I never miss when I’m in San Francisco is House Of PrimeRib on Vanness Street. I always get the the largest cut called Henry VIII. Also with au jus, it is to me the most delicious roast prime rib around.
I also love steak that’s simply charred in charcoal. When we lived in Paris, we went to a restaurant on the same street as our Metro stop, Maubert Mutualite. It was an Argentinian restaurant called El Palengke. We always ordered a huge cut of charred steak plunked on a thick wooden plate and served with a homemade chimichurri sauce. I never ate it with that sauce. I just loved the simplicity of a good quality steak with just salt, pepper, and a crusty baguette.
Back in Manila, it is not easy to find a good, well-cooked steak. There are times I order my own steaks from a supplier who gets very good USDA steaks. You may order whole slabs of USDA Prime grade rib eye steaks or USDA Choice grade New York or Strip steaks. I have them individually cut and vacuumed sealed. I remove the fat part, slice them up, season them then fry them till crispy and serve them on the side with the steak. Simply pan fried in butter and seasoned with salt, I always make sure I am well stocked in my freezer. (My supplier? Vicky Choi: 0917 521 0523)
With charred grill marks on this round ribeye, it came with three sauces, mushroom, pepper, and Bearnaise, but I simply enjoyed it with crushed salt.
Recently, I was blessed to try an Argentinian steak place called El Gaucho. There were so many items on the menu but I knew what I wanted. I was eyeing recreating my experience at El Palengke in Paris. From what was on the menu, I ordered a fried beef empanada and a salchicha. Empanadas are a typical appetizer/ snack in Argentina. Here, they make it quite well. The spicy chorizo was a bit spicy, long, deep red and also very good with the delicious crusty bread and butter they served it with.
I ordered medium-cooked lamb chops and an Argentinian rib eye, also medium-cooked. Both arrived perfectly charred and you could see the grill marks over the steaks. I love lamb chops when properly made, simply with crushed salt. I have not tasted lamb chops this good in a while. The round rib eye was the same. With charred grill marks on the superior steak, it came with three sauces I wanted to try—mushroom, pepper, and Bearnaise. Of course, I tasted each one but decided to not have any of them with this outstanding steak, which simply enjoyed with crushed salt on both sides. As a side dish, I had truffled mash potatoes, which was very good! Flashback to El Palengke of Paris.
This place I realize specializes in caramel. I had it drizzled over folds of crepe with vanilla ice cream. To go with it, I also had a deep dark chocolate cake with caramel and again vanilla ice cream on the side. The dessert was a nice ending to our wonderful lunch. I’ll be back to try the other cuts and grades of steak they offer. I enjoyed that lunch.
On my way out, I noticed bottles of Grey Goose Vodka flavored with Caramel. I learned this unique flavor is made specially for the El Gaucho restaurants all over the world. That got me curious. Meanwhile, I just found a new go-to steak place.
El Gaucho is at Seven/Neo, 5th Avenue, Taguig, 1634 Metro Manila. 0917 189 8019