Bugbear - 2. a persistent problem or source of annoyance. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc.
We were in DC last week, and were treated to dinner at the Capitol Grille. The wine list was extensive, which is really great when someone else is picking up the tab. The dry aged beef hanging in the entryway cooler looked as good as it tasted. However, there was something about that meal that bugged me then and bugs me now. Before continuing, I should also mention that I really don't get the whole idea of steakhouses. More meat than anyone can or probably should consume at one time (which was especially annoying when we had no way to preserve and use the leftovers) and, I'm sorry, but no creamed spinach is ever worth eight bucks.
This isn't about that, it's about the nomenclature - more precisely the lack thereof - regarding various cuts of beef. This has been something that has been a bugbear of mine for a long time. Take the Strip Steak. Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby describe the many names of this cut: "For boneless being called: ambassador steak, hotel-style steak, boneless club steak, New York strip, Texas strip, Kansas City strip; for bone in: club steak, country club steak, shell steak, sirloin strip steak, strip steak, New York steak." Bruce Aidells would add veiny steak and delmonico steak as choices. Heck, I thought a delmonico was a rib eye, but you can find that explained here. And what's worse is that, with no rules, a supermarket can call it what it wants.
For me, the real problem is my favorite steak, it's pictured above. I know it as a shell steak or club steak, it is basically a strip steak with a bone. In its purest form it is the transition steak between the short loin and and rib sections, where the the tenderloin has whithered to nothingness, and the top loin is becoming a rib steak. Not as good, but still acceptable, it a steak from the t-bone or p-house section, where the tenderloin has been peeled out and the "t" bone trimmed.
So, what does this have to with the Capitol Grill. What they call a sirloin, I know as a strip. Though Sirloin Strip is used, the phrase "sirloin" by itself should only apply to the meats more to the south of the beast. It was annoying, to say the least.
Lots of people have raised their voices regarding this issue, but without success. So, let's get those politicians who want to play with our food off of foie gras, raw milk cheese and cholesterol, etc. and on to a national standard of nomenclature for beef. I propose adopting that put forward by the Cattlemen's Beef Board and the National Cattlemen's Beef association (PDF chart here). Here is to the Top Loin Steak - the bone is optional!