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Best Butchers

Judge: Laurent Tourondel, BLT Steak


Illustration by Edel Rodriguez  
  • Is there really a difference between steak that costs $14.99 a pound and $28.99? In a word: Yes. Or so we discovered when BLT Steak proprietor Laurent Tourondel inspected five cuts of bone-in rib eye from different purveyors. Our expert examined the raw steaks for color, thickness, and marbling before brushing them with butter, rubbing them with sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper, then grilling them up for a blind taste test.

  • Fifth Place

  • The Food Emporium

    Various locations; $14.99 a pound

    “This is not choice meat,” Tourondel sniffed as he eyed the anemic slab. “The flavor is almost nonexistent. The meat is thin and dry.”

  • Fourth Place

  • Whole Foods

    4 Union Sq. South, 212-673-5388 ; $16.99 a pound

    Fat-wise, the Whole Foods entry would have been a contender. But the color was pink instead of the ideal deep red. “It hasn’t been aged enough,” Tourondel said. “It tastes just okay.”

  • Third Place

  • Eli’s Vinegar Factory

    431 E. 91st St., 212-987-0885; $21.99 a pound

    Eli’s entry was thick but insufficiently marbled. “This doesn’t have as much flavor as the other thick pieces of meat, and it’s dry,” Tourondel said. “It did form a nice crust while it cooked, though.”

  • Second Place

  • Citarella

    1313 Third Ave., 212-874-0383; $23.99 a pound

    “Great marbling and thickness,” enthused Tourondel. “There is quite enough fat in between the meat, which makes it delicious.”

  • WINNER

  • Lobel’s of New York

    1096 Madison Ave., 212-737-1372 ; $28.99 a pound

    There’s a reason, apparently, that this high-end butcher is widely considered the best in town. “The meat is thick, marbled with fat, and dark, meaning it’s been well aged,” said Tourondel. Grilled, the steak has “a great, buttery flavor,” he added. “It’s definitely the best-quality meat.”

From the 2006 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine

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