Steak at a restaurant - OMG

Joined Dec 19, 2014
I went to dinner with my mom the other night, and I did something I almost never do - order a steak.

I make steak at home several times per week, so when I go out, I usually order something that I have not eaten in a long time, or something I can't/don't make at home.

The beef I buy, is the tenderloin. It is the most tender beef I can find.

I ordered the Filet Mignon. There is really nothing like this that I have ever put in my mouth. Not so much the flavor, but the tenderness/consistency. Much better than the market TLoins.

My mom seems to think that it's a cut of meat that is not avail to the gen pub. Is this true? I know some of you work at/own (owned) restaurants, and I was hoping to have some light shed on this, and see if there any suggestions.

Thanks in advance.
Joined Jun 7, 2021
Tenderloin is coke usually as a Chateaubriand, Tournedo, or cut into fillet mignon. It is a low exercised muscle, and is indeed very tender, but can be bland. Better steaks that are nearly as tender, but with much more flavor include club steak (tomahawk steak, bone in ribeye, with the cap, hangar steal, and petite flat iron. Even flank, brisket, and sirloin can be tender if well chosen, and cooked properly. Look for small flecks, and what looks like veins of fat running throughout the meat. It should be even, and well distributed. The greater the amount of fat, the more tender and juicy the me twill be, and the better the flavor that will develop. Tenderloin has little fat. It is very lean, which it is often treated with lardoons of fat., or wrapped in bacon, and often served with demo glace. Another fidderence between fine steakhouse meat, and what youand I have access to is the highergrade keat. The best is USDA prime, followed by USDA Choice, the the least quality that you should ever consider is USDA Select., Prime is reserved for high end steaj houses, and restaurants. Choice is available in supermarkets. Here are some ictures a explanations: If possible, in my opinion, the oldest, highest grade beef a butcher will sell you, has the best flavor, and is the most tenfder. I always look at the steakthat is still considered sellable by the butcher, that has the darkest color, and looks mildly dried out. At this stage, the meat is dry aged, concentrating the beef flavor, and allowing natural enzymes to tenderize the meat. I have also had meat that was wet aged in vacuum sealed bags. They were as tender, but not quite as flavorful;. The famous Delmonico steak is dry aged by experts, and is truly exceptional

The only better meat available in the U.S., is Wagu, which has ridiculous amount of marbling -

Now that's marbling.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of tge North
Joined Jul 13, 2012
For flavor Sirloin is my choice - good balance between flavor and tender + 3/4ths the price of a tenderloin (which has less flavor IMO)
Joined Nov 27, 2012
Also do try to form a relationship with your local butcher. Always always try to go for meat that has never been frozen, even if its imported. Local chilled beats high quality frozen imported almost every single time.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
brianshaw brianshaw is correct - Filet Mignon is tenderloin. Its the exact same meat you prepare and eat at home.

Is there a difference in quality between what you can buy in a grocery store and what's offered in a steak house? Not necessarily. But, definitely possible. In fact, you'd probably be surprised by the truth. With that said, much depends on the steak house and what's available in the area around the steak house.

To answer your question, you have to understand the grading system.

The 3 grades of beef under the FDA grading system are Select, Choice and Prime. The factor that determines the grade is fat content and marbling, especially marbling. The more marbling the beef has, the higher the grade. This means that Prime beef usually comes from fattened up, young beefers that are under 2 years old, depending on the breed. This system does not apply to Wagyu beef. That's something very different yet, still based largely on fat content and marbling.

This is why brianshaw brianshaw recommended a ribeye - more fat and marbling than tenderloin and therefore, more flavor.

But, is the cut of meat you ate in the restaurant a higher grade than what you can get in a store? If you ate in a chain steak house like Outback, Roadhouse, Longhorn's etc, chances are pretty good the meat you had was either Select or Choice grade. So, if your local grocery store offers the same cut in Prime grade then, yes, chances are good that the beef in the store is better quality than what you had in the restaurant. But remember, Select and Choice are still very good grades of beef and make for some fine eating.

Now, if you're in a reputable steak house like Peter Luger's in NYC or Morton's in Chicago or Ruth's Chris in New Orleans, you are pretty much guaranteed to get a Prime grade cut of meat. But, like I said, that doesn't mean you can't get the same quality grade in your grocery store or butcher shop if the store or butcher shop offers Prime grade beef.

Here's a link to the FDA's website that explains the details in their grading system:

Here's a link to another article that shines a more candid light on the issue:

Cheers! :)
Joined Oct 7, 2015
Find a butcher - a good butcher and try a tenderloin (or whatever cut you like) from them vs. the big grocery store. You'll pay more but you'll enjoy more.

To echo others though - try out a nice ribeye and never look back!
Joined Sep 21, 2010
I get meat from a butcher that supplies high-end restaurants here. They have all their meat cutters working in plain sight, you can see them breaking down the big cuts and you can ask for something custom right there on the spot.

Yes, their steaks are properly aged, trimmed and more expensive than a grocery store, but so perfectly good. They also have regular cuts that are much better, and usually cheaper, than a grocery store. Because they use the entire carcass, they offer calf's liver, pigs feet & tails, all that stuff.

I also love a filet, and do not want to spoil it with bacon etc.! Baste in butter & thyme, s&p, and that's good enough for me!

Though. I would never turn down a rib eye! yum.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I'm a heretic in many fields. I expect the hordes to show up with torches and farm implements soon. Maybe competing hordes will kill each other off preserving my heresies for another day.
Joined Dec 19, 2014
Thank you fore the replies.

I do not eat porterhouse, ribeye, etc. anymore.

The tenderloin I have gotten at three good butchers over the past 10 years is slightly different that what i get in the supermarkets, but of the same quality.

The FM I had at this restaurant (privately owned and not a steakhouse) was in no way shape or form anything like a tenderloin bought at a market or good butcher. It's like comparing shrimp and scallops. Yes, it was that different.

In fact, it wasn't this:


That ^ is what I get in the marketr/butcher.

Perhaps I will give the restaurant a call tomorrow and ask...
Joined May 5, 2010
You gotta love restaurants and public that use the term "Prime" Rib. I understand it's a marketing tool. Prime rib sounds better than Standing rib roast or Choice or select rib roast
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Don't look at tenderness as being the best tasting. I did a Tenderloin Sous Vide last week. It was melt in your mouth tender. I served it with a Bearnaise Sauce because while it may be tender it lacks taste. I would rather have a good quality Top Sirloin, New York, T-Bone that isn't as tender but has a real steak flavor. You need to chew a steak to get the juices from the steak.
Joined Oct 7, 2015
OP stated he's not after taste but rather mouth feel. I'm with you Billy but I'm also interested to learn in what Riff is talking about. I suspect it's a preparation method not a particular cut... Hopefully the restaurant will tell him.
Joined Jun 7, 2021
Methods to enhance tenderloin (from which the fillet mignon is cut) flavor:

Tournedos - can be the tenderloin of fish, the small end of beef tenderloin, the most tender part of a ribeye. The tournedos is a round cut of meat, grilled rare to medium rare. Ahi Tuna is also a great proteins for this dish.

The tournedos is typically seared in butter, which is also basted over the top. It is then served upon a crispy bread crouton of the same size as the steak, and can be topped with goose liver, compound butter, shaved truffle, or truffle finishing salt, thinly sliced mushrooms, hunter's sauce, pepper, or a rich demi glace.

Lardoons - pieces of usually smoked pork fat inserted throughout the meat. It melts into, and flavors the meat as it cooks.

Injection - a flavorful liquid, such as A1 Steak Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco Sauce, or beef bullion, injected allover in the meat, and let to rest for 15 minutes or so before cooking

Grilling over lump charcoal, alongside some sacrificial beef fat. Some people trim excess beef fat from roasts, and steaks ,to add to the grill when grilling very lean cuts of meat. The fat melts, drips onto the fire, and produces the smoke flavor associated with grilled burgess and steaks.

Ducale' - a combination of button mushrooms, shallots, garlic, butter, olive oil, and black pepper, all cooked together. They are usually used in Beef Wellington, but are a great topper for fillet mignon, or tournedos.

Compound Butter - a mixture of salted butter, and herbs such as thyme, sage, chervil, parsley, usually with spices like coarse black pepper, and sometimes, celery seed. The compound butter is placed on top of the cooked meat once plated. I hope this gives you some ideas on how to enhance the mild flavor of fillet mignon.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
Joined Dec 19, 2014
Finally had a chance to call the restaurant, and spoke with the manager. In line with what was said here earlier, there are four grades:


The latter, apparently, can be any of the above three, esp. when the butcher cant - for whetever reason - determine what it is.

They serve either the prime or choice, depending on market price. Never select nor roll. I told him that the TLoin I get at my market, which they cut there, is around $22/lb, which makes him think that it's either prime or choice, depending on market price. I also told him the consistency is different, and he seemed a bit surprised. He didn't really know what else to say, other then try a good butcher... which I already have done.

Next time I am in the market, I will ask the butcher what the grade is; that info is not on the label.

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