Steak: King Of The Dinner Table
For most Americans, steak is never far from our minds when we're thinking of sitting down to dinner. Even those who usually eat other entrees almost always give at least a thought to the filet mignon that appears on every white-tablecloth menu in town. A very large percentage of people in such restaurants will ruminate over the duck, fish, scallops, and veal dishes, then say, "Oh, you know, I think I'll just have the steak tonight." They are fooling no one. By God, they want that steak.
New Orleans is one of America's best steak-eating cities, behind New York and tied with Chicago. That may not sound right, given our resources in and passion for seafood. But unlike most cities, New Orleans has long considered USDA Prime aged beef as a standard.
We can thank John Vojkovich for that. He opened the Crescent City Steakhouse with top-end beef back in 1934. He had another good idea: serving the steak sizzling in butter on a hot plate. That became the New Orleans steak style.
Vojkovich also picked the perfect location for his steakhouse. In the 1930s people leaving the Fair Grounds racetrack was likely to drive right in front of the Crescent City. If they had a good day at the parimutuels, they might have felt the need to blow some of their winnings on a good dinner. Not long after, Chris Steak House opened nearby and tapped into this rich stream. After Ruth bought it, it grew into the world's top premium steakhouse, which it remains.
Then as now, a deluxe steakhouse gives anyone the chance to spend big dollars in a restaurant without actually knowing anything about food. Even in the best steakhouses, the high-pedigree beef and other entrees are prepared very simply, accompanied by gigantic portions of the most basic side dishes. Such steakhouses boomed across the country in the 1990s and ever since. To us, these newcomers are only additions to what we already had here.
But very welcome. Because the thought of a great steak inspires lust. I'll bet you're thinking about having one right now, in fact. (I know I am.)