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The Daily Meal's Year in Restaurant Reviews 2011 Slideshow

The Daily Meal's Year in Restaurant Reviews 2011 Slideshow


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Magic Performed with a Cuban Version of the Hamburger

Frequent contributor to The Daily Meal, GutterGourmet, discovered a version of the hamburger that he's never stumbled upon before while traveling in Miami. At a joint called El Mago de las Fritas, they're known for their frita cubanas, Cuba's rendition of the burger. The dish combines familiar elements of Cuban cuisine, like a soft, sweet bread and chorizo mixed with beef to make the patty.

Favorite Quote:

"Forget about Butter Burgers, Goober Burgers, or LaFrieda Black Label Burgers. Forget sliders, Shack Burgers, Crunch Burgers, or In-N-Out. There is a regional style of hamburger in Miami that has been overlooked by the likes of Kuban, Solares, and Ozersky." — GutterGourmet

Where the Locals Go for Fried Chicken

Yelp/Jess C

Cook editor, Yasmin Fahr, claims that the fried chicken she had at Coop's Place in New Orleans is the best she's ever had. That's quite a statement. Her advice for first-timers is to arrive hungry and be prepared to wait (they don't take reservations and the line is always out the door). Order their signature dishes — the rabbit and sausage jambalaya, and of course, fried chicken.

Favorite Quote:

"On several recommendations, I dragged two friends with me to get a plate of the fried chicken with a side of the house signature rabbit and sausage jambalaya and chowed down while downing some Abita beer — and I went back two days later." — Yasmin Fahr

Seeking Out the "Pizza Capital of the World"

Frequent special contributor to The Daily Meal, GutterGourmet, took a road trip to a city claiming to be the “Pizza Capital of the World” — Old Forge, Pa. Armed with plenty of skepticism, given his considerable musings on such pizza havens as Brooklyn, New Haven, and Chicago, GutterGourmet ventured into Arcaro & Genell for a pie.

Favorite Quote:

“Old Forge, just 15 minutes south of Scranton, home to 19th-century blacksmiths, then a mining town, then the textile industry, then…Pizza Capital of the World?” — GutterGourmet

A Cut Above

Will Budiaman

A hotspot for USC students in LA’s Koreatown, ChoSun Galbee has made a name for itself by offering tried and true renditions of classic Korean dishes and service their customers can count on. The Daily Meal’s recipe editor, Will Budiaman, recommends ordering the bulgogi and the restaurant’s signature dish, chosun galbee — house-marinated short ribs that are cooked on a tableside grill.

Favorite Quote:

"The atmosphere, being slightly more upscale, might fool skeptical diners into thinking that this place is just a watered-down imitator purporting to be Korean. It’s hardly a hole-in-the-wall, after all. Fortunately, the skeptics are proven wrong." — Will Budiaman

Elegant Old-Style Dining at Manhattan's Landmark Carlyle Hotel

Colman Andrews

These days the trendy New York City dining scene tends to be filled with restaurants that lean closer to the edge than the elegant and upper-crust hotel restaurants that once reigned over the Big Apple. Which is exactly why TDM's editorial director, Colman Andrews, was pleasantly surprised by how satisfying his meal was during a recent trip to the The Carlyle restaurant at The Carlyle hotel.

Favorite Quote:

"The Carlyle, to put it mildly, isn't a hipster hangout. The lobby doesn't double as a bar scene; there's no hypnotically throbbing lounge-house soundtrack; the staff isn't dressed in black pajamas." — Colman Andrews

A Hot Spot That's Well Worth the Wait

TDM contributor, Frugal Foodista, recently scored a table at Bondir, one of Boston's hottest restaurant openings this year (and named the best new restaurant of 2011 by Boston Magazine). Jason Bondir, the chef and owner of the trendy Cambridge restaurant, changes the menu daily based on the locally sourced items available each week.

Favorite Quote:

"Bondir was an experience that quite lived up to my expectations. The atmosphere is cozy and warm, the service is likewise — nothing feels pretentious, and chef Bond himself is the epitomy of a humble genius." — Frugal Foodista

Bronx Broccoli Rabe From a Brother From Corona

Frequent TDM contibutor, Fried Neck Bones, ventured out to Fratelli's Pizza Cafe in the Bronx for one thing and one thing only broccoli rabe. The pizzeria is famous for offering up their garlicky rendition of the bittersweet green vegetable, both as a pizza topping or simply sautéed as a side dish.

Favorite Quote:

"Broccoli rabe's appeal, with its bittersweet flavor, especially combined with garlic, olive oil, and crushed red pepper, goes directly to my nerve center, immediately stirring a rare combination of feelings including but not limited to pure pleasure, child-like happiness, and a primal sense of contentment." Fried Neck Bones

One of Austin's Premier Mexican Restaurants

When TDM contributors, the Austin Food Junkies, got invited to dine at one of Austin's hottest new restaurants, Fonda San Miguel, they were treated to a whirlwind feast of Mexican cuisine. The restaurant is known for serving up modern interpretations of classic Mexican dishes, blue corn quesadillas served with ceviche-style Canadian lobster and muenster cheese.

Favorite Quote:

"The pork did not disappoint; it was tender and flavorful with the citrusy marinade coming through and the pickled onions popping off like exploding flavor crystals." — Austin Food Junkies

Modern French Brasserie-Style

Located on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, Comme Ça manages to strike the balance between being a casual neighborhood standby and a trendy, modern hot spot at once. David Myers, the chef and owner of Comme Ça, offers a menu of his own takes on brasserie-style classics, such as roasted beef marrow and moules frites.

Favorite Quote:

"It’s one of those rare L.A. places that everyone goes to, but no one cares who else is there. That’s probably because the food is delicious, despite the restaurant’s popularity." — Nicole Campoy Leffler


The Best Meal Delivery Services of 2021

With healthy picks for singles, families, vegans, and carnivores, we found something for everyone.

Convenient and practical, meal delivery services can save you a trip to the grocery store and get you whipping up some delicious restaurant-style dishes in the comfort of your own home. From the beginner cook to the plant-based foodie, there is something for everyone to enjoy. But that also means it can be a little overwhelming when you're looking to find the very best option for you and your family. That's why we surveyed over 300 people to find out which brands they absolutely loved. Then, we tested the kits to make sure they lived up to the hype. Below, we've rounded up the top-rated meal delivery services, including budget-friendly and vegan options, as well as those perfect for singles and families.

Green Chef was one of the first meal kit companies to become USDA-certified organic. All of the ingredients provided in their kits are non-GMO and free from antibiotics and hormones. The variety of meal plans is where Green Chef sets itself apart, as they offer a range of health-conscious plans including keto, paleo, balanced living, plant-powered, and family plans. One tester remarked, "I really enjoyed the creativeness of the meals that were offered. One of the recipes was quinoa tacos which I never would have thought of making on my own!" Testers also appreciated that some of the items were already pre-made, such as the seasoning blend and cashew cream, which cuts down on cooking time. Portion sizes were decent and cooking/preparation time was pretty efficient.

Gobble's recipes were very tasty and portion sizes were hearty, and some of the ingredients are pre-cooked or pre-chopped to speed up the cooking process. Testers liked the simplicity of the steps in each recipe provided by Gobble, and also remarked that there was less mess involved than other services used. They offer two plans, which include the classic plan and the Lean & Clean dinner plan to suit your dietary needs. The Lean & Clean plan features all low-calorie, low-carb options if you're trying to stay healthy and still want a satisfying meal.

Hello Fresh was the most popular pick by far when we surveyed our database (over 50% of our surveyors used Hello Fresh), and for good reason. They noted that Hello Fresh recipe cards were extremely easy to use and follow, making it the perfect choice for beginner cooks. Compared to other services, our testers found it simple and uncomplicated in terms of following the recipes and efficient cooking/preparation time. Our testers also enjoyed the variety of meals, flavors, and portion sizes. If you're new to the meal delivery kit game, Hello Fresh is a great choice.

Launched by Hello Fresh, EveryPlate is a more affordable meal delivery kit option than others on this list. Our testers loved that the instructions were "simple" and "very straightforward." The flavor of meals and variety scored well, with the ability to choose from 11 different meals that change each week. The packaging also impressed our testers, who remarked that it was condensed and that there was not a lot of excess plastic waste that you would traditionally expect in a box like this. One tester said, "Most of the veggies in this box were just free and not wrapped in plastic which was so nice."

Vegans rejoice! This meal prep kit from Purple Carrot is the answer to your plant-based prayers. Full of completely vegan ingredients, Purple Carrot offers a variety of tasty meals that are also nutritious and packed with vegetables. Our testers loved the variety of totally vegan dishes available on Purple Carrot as well as the flavor profiles. Certain ingredients, like the vegan parmesan and coconut bacon, were delicious plant-based takes on comfort food staples. Ingredients were very fresh, but the prep was a bit lengthy, so this is best for the vegan who enjoys cooking. We also appreciated the pretty recipe book that comes in the box, which you can save and recreate the recipes on your own again.

The OG of the group, Blue Apron was one of the first companies to popularize meal delivery kits. Our testers were impressed with the variety of meals provided and delicious flavor profiles. Plus, Blue Apron provides the recipe cards for future use with the measurements for every ingredient so you can re-create the dishes again. Surveyors also remarked that they learned some new cooking techniques through this service that they were able to continue using. Even our beginner cook testers found the instructions relatively easy to follow.

This meal delivery kit is pre-made and designed by in-house dietitians, so nutrition is a main focus with FACTOR. Our testers were very satisfied with FACTOR overall, they loved the variety of meals and found them surprisingly fresh tasting even though they are microwaveable. One tester said, "They never tasted dry or bland, all of the meals were super tasty and convenient." Since the meals are balanced and just need to be heated, they are great for keeping you on track with your health goals.

Home Chef offers a variety of meal options including classic meals which take about 30-60 minutes to prepare, as well as quick meals which take only 15 minutes to prepare. Surveyors also like the oven-ready meals which come with pre-portioned ingredients and an oven-safe pan. The meals are simple, easy to follow, and flavorful. The step-by-step instructions also have photos for each step which is useful.

If you want the benefits of a meal delivery service kit without having to cook the items, then Freshly is for you. This service features already pre-cooked full meals that simply need to be reheated. Testers enjoyed the convenience factor on these meals as well as the portion sizes. Every meal incorporates meat, turkey, or chicken so this isn't for vegetarian fans, but all meals do contain vegetables. Flavors of the meals were rated as fair and the variety of meals offered was rated as very good overall.

This meal kit from Martha Stewart offers 22 recipes every week which is more than most of the other services on this list. Testers liked that Martha & Marley Spoon had different categories of meals to choose from, one category being "under 30 minutes." The entrees were unique and offered great flavors, and ease of use with recipe directions scored favorably as well. One thing to note was that we almost threw away the cold pack, but realized that inside it has all of the protein be sure to take out the ingredients before throwing the cool pack away!

Known for their smoothie cups, Daily Harvest has expanded their product lineup to include harvest bowls, soups, oat bowls, flatbreads, energy bites, and more. Daily Harvest meals are already pre-made and require either blending or heating. Testers really enjoyed the smoothies best, saying that they were "super refreshing" and "very convenient but also healthy." Plus, you can pour the blended smoothie right back into the cup and stick in a straw, so it's a portable option. Since the items are portioned out, it's perfect for singles or couples that want to eat healthy together. With their new movement to "Give Cooking The Finger," Daily Harvest has partnered with celebs like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Tabitha Brown, and Kira Stokes who are sick of cooking but still want delicious and nutritious choices at home. While these meals may not be as hearty as other services on this list, they are made from wholesome real foods and are completely plant-based.

Sun Basket features all organic produce and a variety of dietitian-approved meal plans which include paleo, carb-conscious, gluten-free, diabetes friendly, vegetarian, pescatarian, mediterranean diet, and more. You can order your meal kit, but also add on additional items like breakfast items and snacks. Our surveyors liked the portion sizes of meals and said that the ingredients were high quality. Their new Fresh & Ready meals come pre-made in an eco-conscious wooden tray that was convenient and very easy to handle in our tests. The packaging is also recyclable and compostable, which is a big plus.

Hungryroot delivers healthy personalized groceries to your door with instructions on how to whip up quick nutritious meals. Testers loved that practically every recipe took less than 20 minutes to make, and the portion sizes were rated favorably. Variety and flavor of meals was rated fairly, but the vegetables in the kit were very fresh and stayed great all week long. One of our testers who is a long-time vegetarian said that she, "Enjoyed the exposure to a few new ingredients I wouldn't normally purchase, like kohlrabi noodles!"

Do you have IBS or follow a gluten-free diet? Epicured specializes in pre-made nutritious, digestive-friendly meals that are low-FODMAP and gluten-free. We appreciate that the meals not only taste great, but also are grounded in science as the company partners with Mount Sinai and digestive-specialists. Testers loved the unique flavor profiles of the meals and the nice portion sizes. Plus, the meals are pre-made so you can skip the cooking and just heat to enjoy instantly.


Daniel Fast Meal Plan

Here’s our menu for one week.

Daniel Fast Breakfasts

  • Fresh fruits, natural peanut butter
  • Daniel Fast granola bars, with an orange
  • Creamy toasted rice porridge with coconut oil, raisins, and almonds
  • Oats groatswith raisins, nuts, andalmond paste

Daniel Fast Lunches

Daniel Fast Dinners

  • Southwestern black bean tacos on toasted Ezekiel wraps
  • Lentil soup(without the bacon or wine), whole wheat chapatis
  • Greens and beans curry (served over brown rice or quinoa)
  • White bean soup with greens, whole wheat chapatis

Daniel Fast Snacks

  • Fresh fruits
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Nuts
  • Raisins
  • Roasted sweet potato “fries”
  • Popcorn (this microwave popcorn is suitable if you don’t want to make your own)

I’ve written whole post about Daniel Fast snacks, if you need more ideas.

The Daniel Fast closely resembles a whole foods cellular cleanse we do each year for health purposes, and we’ve really needed to cleanse after all the holiday treats we’ve enjoyed the last six weeks or so. As difficult as it is, I’m looking forward to this fast! We need it, both physically and spiritually!

It’s a big year, there’s much to do, and grand plans are ahead of us. Through it all, I’ll be praying for you . Some of you really struggled through the past year, and I’m believing this new year will be a year of breakthroughs in your homes, marriages, and families. I want this site to be an oasis of hope, healing, and truth for you, a place where you can find inspiration and encouragement and feel Him stir your soul and tug at your heart.

My heart’s desire is to be in tune and connected with Him throughout this year and every year He graciously gives to me.

I’m so glad you join me here, and desire to be connected with Him, too.

Daniel Fast Meal Plan PDF Download

Grab the PDF download of our Daniel Fast meal plan! Simply enter your email address and we’ll send it to you. We’ll also send more recipes and freebies to help you get started on your fast, too! Click here.


Fast food really can cause mental distress, study says

The answer to easing anxiety and depression could be as simple as changing your diet. Research published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience revealed that for adults under 30, eating lots of fast food significantly increased perceived mental distress.

The study investigated the effects of different dietary patterns on mental health. The results varied wildly for different age groups, with older adults exhibiting less of a response to fast food and more of a response to antioxidants from fruits and vegetables. For this group, eating more fruits and fewer carbohydrates from other sources reduced anxiety and depression.

The beneficial effect of fruit consumption made sense to researchers, since fruits are high in antioxidants that protect the brain. However, they were puzzled by the negative correlation of carbohydrates from other sources. They thought carbohydrates would relieve mental distress rather than exacerbate it, since carbohydrates promote the release of serotonin, the “happy hormone,” in the brain.

The negative effect of fast food consumption also made sense to the group. Young adults who ate fast food more than three times a week scored higher on levels of mental distress. Fast food is typically high in saturated fats, trans fats, and omega-6 fatty acids. While in smaller doses, some of these fats are beneficial and, in fact, necessary for brain function, an excess can trigger an inflammatory response. The inflammation has links to anxiety and depression from past research.

The results seem to indicate that there is a switch in the way foods affect your body as you age - that once you reach a certain point, the antioxidants in fruit are more important and avoiding excess fats is less crucial. These results also suggest that previous studies analyzing the effects of foods across all age groups should be reexamined. The varying effects across age groups could make an impact on the data.

It’s not all bad news for young people, though - there are ways to mitigate anxiety and depression by adding foods, not just by leaving them out. These 10 foods, for example, might help reduce anxiety and depression.


Columnists

Should you worry about your child's waistline?

Months of families being hunkered down with comfort foods has seen a worrying rise in childhood obesity. Here's what we can do about it

Four easy recipes to make the most of British asparagus season

Paired with grapefruit, eggs, or nestled on top of a salmon tart, here are my favourite ways to enjoy this most vaunted of vegetables

The 20 best rosé wines to buy this summer

From £6 sippers to splash-out stars, these 20 bottles will make your summer sing whether you're in Provence or Pontefract

The perfect white wine to serve with food? You might be surprised

Vivacious, versatile and often very good value, viognier deserves to become our go-to summer wine

The best easy cocktail recipes for outdoor parties

With large al-fresco gatherings back on the cards, polish off that pitcher and knock up some batch drinks this summer

The truth about supermarket wines and added sugar (and why it isn't a bad thing)

Do you know how much sugar is in your wine, and how much it influences your enjoyment of it? It might be more than you think

The best cake recipes to bake for special occasions

Whether you whisk, cream or mix, a well-baked cake is something to celebrate

How to bake the perfect rye bread loaf

Had a go at sourdough? Take it a step further and try one of these rich, flavour-filled breads


14 Delicious Meal Kits From Goldbelly That You’ll Fall in Love With

Let's be real — we're getting kind of tired of cooking and meal prepping all the time, yet it's still better to stay at home and eat in. However, you can still support your favorite restaurants and small businesses while giving yourself a break from the kitchen. Goldbelly houses the best of the best food in the country, even meal kits and packages! Whether you want fun desserts, pizza, or even sushi, Goldbelly is a dream come true for foodies. It even has options that accommodate certain diets, including vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and halal. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and treat yourself to a well-deserved, yummy meal kit!

Interested in trying out Goldbelly? Use code GetInMyBELLY to enjoy $15 off your first purchase of $50 or more now through Dec. 31.


"Easy, delicious, and good for you? This recipe is a dream come true." -Andi of Longmeadow Farm

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How Much More Does A Steak Dinner Cost Today?

“Marlene Dietrich once said that if she heard an American man rave about a meal, she knew he must have eaten a steak,” says A Treasury of Great Recipes. Published in 1965, the book was written by Vincent and Mary Price (yes, that Vincent Price, or that one, maybe you remember). Price drops the quote in a section on great New York restaurants. And it’s not just the American men who thought this (though more on that below): restaurant critic Ruth Reichl in a 1994 steakhouse round-up wrote, “But there is one thing I have no doubt about: steak is a New York tradition, and when I go out to eat meat, I like to be reminded of that.” At Marlene, Vincent and Ruth’s behest, let’s talk about the steak dinner — specifically, the steak dinner in New York.

So it’s 1956. It’s not really 1956 of course, but we’re pretending. It’s 1956 and you’re flush — the raise came through and it was substantial, or you finally landed the office next to the corner office — so you and the boys from work are going out for a big old steak. (And you are a male. Weird to have to make that distinction, but the exigencies of history demand, in this context.) A sirloin. A salad, and maybe some shrimp cocktail. What’s the bill going to be? How much did you take out of the bank (as ATMs were but a dream, and credit cards were the province of a different class of people, at the time)?

You’re going to Jack & Charlie’s “21” on West 52nd Street in New York City, which is the name that the 21 Club then went by. You start with some steamers, at $2, and an onion soup gratinee, at an even dollar, and then dig into Broiled Sirloin Steak Flamande with Noodles, for $4.50. “21” still has that speakeasy vibe — mostly men, maybe the non-wife women that accompany them, and you just set yourself back $7.50 (which would be $62.56 in 2011 dollars).

Now it’s now again. The VC deal finally closed, or it’s bonus time in the portions of Wall Street not occupied. Off to the 21 Club, which is still there on 52nd, still with the jockey statuary arrayed on the balcony over the entrance. Dinner is prix fixe now, so when you choose to start with the Ahi Tuna Tartare (coconut, lime, hearts of palm, Thai chilies and taro root chips) and the 21 Day Dry Aged Sirloin (with Yukon and purple potato gratin with blue cheese, sautéed tri color carrots and red wine reduction and a desert (which will have to be the equivalent of the onion soup you had 55 years ago), the bill will be $73.

Is that roughly ten-dollar difference significant? Have our steak dinners inflated at the same rate as, say, our candy? Or is it an aberration, and the steak dinner sector of the “delicious things” industry safe from economic pressures?

Let’s not think of the steak dinner as the timeless badge of the spendy meal, the reward dinner. True that it has become that in recent memory — in elementary school, the reward dinner for the Cox children was a trip to Ponderosa, and I don’t think that’s out of character for the day and age — but a long time ago, when men wore hats, the unadorned steak was the province of the chophouse and not the white-tablecloth establishments that were gaining traction. See, for example, the beefsteaks memorialized by Joseph Mitchell, where manly men would spend an entire night grazing on cuts of meat dropped on communal tables, washing it down with oysters and beer. It’s no accident that that certain historic steakhouses seem to be cut from the same cloth as speakeasies (or were, as was the case with the 21 Club, formerly ones).

Early 20th-century restaurant chain Longchamps, was not a virtual men’s club, as were famous NY eateries like Lüchow’s and Toots Shor’s. It was a more refined sort of place, known for its Art Deco style (and popular with the ladies who lunch, who were not generally present in the chop houses of the time). But they did offer a steak to the hungry: in 1938, a Sizzling Sirloin Platter was $1.95. And if you start off with a Fresh Crab Meat Cocktail and a Fresh Endive Salad with Roquefort Cheese Dressing at $.65 apiece, and you’ve got a bill of $3.25 before dashing off to a night at the Bijou (or $52.30, in 2011 dollars).

These steaks come from cows, large contiguous swaths of cows, broken down into table- to single-serving portions, so it’s tempting to look at whether or not the price of a cow has gone up or down in similar ways. We will resist that. Dining is an experience that has to do with so much more than the cost of ingredients, labor, real estate, etc. Certainly fluctuations of the mass production of cows-for-eating affects the cost to the end-user (cf. this
McRib inquiry), but we are speaking more generally of that experience of that peculiar niche of culture that is restaurant dining, with others, in public, attended to in a fashion that is not usually the fabric of the daily life.

One of the difficulties of researching this is that old menus are not exactly easy to find. There are some scattered on the Internet, but should you insist on looking for a specific restaurant in a specific year, your chances plunge. But A Treasury of Great Recipes, which we discussed earlier? It’s a big book, definitely Treasury-sized, with full-page full color photos, raised bands on the spine, a sober gilt design on the cover and a ribbon stitched into the binding with which to mark your place. And in addition to the amiably florid, ascot-wearing descriptions of the jet-setting of the Prices, and name-dropping anecdotes such as the Marlene Dietrich quote above, the book reproduces the menus of the restaurants that contributed recipes. And as it was published in 1965, we have a resource (as well as an awesome conversation piece any kitchen would be lucky to have on its bookshelf).

So from this tome we know that Sardi’s, before it became more widely known for anachronistic Broadway kitsch, had an Alaska King Crab Cocktail for $1.75, a Spinach Salad with Bacon for $1.25, and Roast Prime Ribs of Beef Au Jus with Baked Idaho Potato for $4.85. (Also, the Sauce Maison was 25¢ per person.) And across the East River, downtown Brooklyn’s landmark Gage & Tollner was more of a straight-up chophouse, where the meats were coal-grilled and the waiters wore service emblems denoting years of service. A Crabmeat Cocktail was $1.90, a cup of Green Turtle Soup was $.75, and the Sirloin Steak was $6.00 (or $11.00 for two). In 2011 dollars, Sardi’s cost $58.34 (with Sauce Maison), and Gage & Tollner $62.30

The transformation of steak and potatoes from trenchermen’s delight into fine dining is relatively recent. I spoke to John Mariani, food columnist for Esquire and Bloomberg News and author of numerous books, for insight. According to Mariani, the shift happened in the mid-1970s. “Before that, the model, the paradigm, was the steak houses on and around Second Avenue in New York, such as The Palm and Christ Cella. These were not rough, tough places, but rakish places, populated almost solely by newspapermen.” Mariani tells of the first time his editor at the time, Clay Felker, took him to The Palm in the early ’70s. “I thought I entered into a world, a very masculine world, where quite literally you couldn’t get into unless you knew somebody.” But then a new generation of restaurateurs began opening steakhouses, such as Alan Stillman. Stillman was already in the restaurant business, having opened (and eventually selling) T.G.I. Friday’s, often credited as the first singles bar. He founded Smith & Wollensky in 1977 on the corner of 49th and Third, which had the affectation of the classic chophouse but with modern flourishes, such as attention to the wine list. “The only way to distinguish yourself from those New York steakhouses was to become a little bit more refined,” says Mariani, which is what Smith & Wollensky, and similar places starting at the time, did, and all of a sudden we had a crop of steak joints to which men would take their wives and kids. Not quite haute cuisine, but approaching it. And not coincidentally, the men-only (or the men-and-their-molls-only) fog began to dissipate — as evidenced by Reichl’s sentiments years later.

So, thanks to the December 18, 1978 issue of New York Magazine, let’s see how much this new generation of steakhouses were charging. Sparks, recently having moved uptown to challenge Steak Row, was asking for $14.95 for the boneless sirloin broiled with lemon pepper, $.75 for hash browns and $1 for the salad, while The Palm charged $14 for the sirloin, $2.50 for the hash browns and $2 for the salad. As a price war was raging, initiated by Sparks’ move, we’ll use The Palm for purposes of comparison, which converts to $64.38 in 2011 dollars.

And from the Ruth Reichl story, which is a true mash note to the steakhouses of note, she lists the prices of ten steakhouses from 1994. Sadly, only from one does she include the prices of sides: Christ Cella, a venerable and now-gone Steak Row stalwart: $29.95 for a New York sirloin, $19 for shrimp cocktail and $9.75 for hash browns. That’s a 2011 total of $89.87.

And for another current example, perhaps more traditional steakhouse than 21, let’s visit the Palm again where we will, as Sam Sifton recommends, “Just ask for the steak after some Gigis and a crab.” The East Coast Gigi salad is $15.50, the crabmeat cocktail $19.90 and the Prime Porterhouse $58.00, for a total of $94.40.

Where does this leave us? (And please note that the omission of any steakhouse, historical or current, is not intended as a slight — I’m noticing that my two favorites, Peter Luger and The Strip House, are not included, so there’s that.) The rundown:

Longchamps (1938): $52.30
Jack & Charlie’s “21” (1956): $62.56
Sardi’s (1965): $58.34
Gage & Tollner (1965): $62.30
The Palm (1978): $64.38
Christ Cella (1994): $89.87
The 21 Club (2011): $73.00
The Palm (2011): $94.40

I was tempted, early in this examination of relative prices, to think that the steak dinner was impervious to the forces of inflation, that they could be thought of as a standard unit that keeps pace with increases in the cost of living, even a unit that could be extrapolated as a certain portion of a week’s wages. The data does not support this. In fact, between 1938 and now (referring to the Palm — it’s difficult to trust a prix fixe for these purposes), we’re looking at an (unscientific) increase of 57% — pretty steep. Though also note that the increase really gathers steam in the past twenty years, and that before that, the price was holding relatively steady for forty years.

Of course, as we learned from John Mariani, the steak dinner has changed. Maybe the broadening of the appeal of the steak dinner away from the exclusive province of sawdust and testosterone has enabled the purveyors of steak dinners to seek a more attractive profit margin. Or maybe this is a trend in restaurants in general. Or in life. But yes, your steak dinner costs more than your parents’ at your age, and more again than for your grandparents before them.

And you may be tempted, after reading this, to rush to your closest chophouse for a traditional meal, despite the encroaching expense. In took about three archival menus to render me famished. But remember that the prices quoted do not include tax or tip (or, heaven forfend, adult beverages), so prepare for sticker shock at the end of the evening. Perhaps better to hit the butcher and make a night at home of it.

Historic “21” photo courtesy of 21 Club Palm photo by Jmichcock, via Wikimedia Commons.


Start With a Hearty Breakfast

A good way to combat anemia, according to Harvard Medical School, is to eat a diet rich in vitamin B-12, folate and iron. Vitamin B-12 is found only in animal products and fortified foods, while leafy green vegetables contain folate and iron. Folate is also found in avocados, bread, mangoes, oranges, papaya and pomegranate. Iron is found in nuts, seeds and whole grains. A spinach omelet with whole grain toast and a glass of orange juice provides B-12, folate and iron. Or you could have oatmeal or a fortified cereal with chopped nuts and mango or papaya sprinkled on top.