It’s raw. it’s here. get used it. Steak tartare makes a statement on the menu that speaks to the bloody-rare carnivore in every diner’s dark, cave-dwelling heart. First, the fundamentals: good raw beef cut with a sharp knife, plus a silky raw egg yolk and a brash hit of acid from citrus or pickles. After honing those must-haves, chefs can let some personality into classic tartare.
Bojan Bocvarov; corporate executive chef; Baba; Arlington, Va
Imagined as an open-faced sandwich and served with pickled cauliflowers and capers, steak tartare is an instant stunner at Baba, a cocktail bar with a grandma-chic attitude. “Baba” means “grandma” in Serbian, chef Bojan Bocvarov’s native tongue. The restaurant’s website states: “Baba is outspoken, sassy and always the life of the party.” The tartare totally has attitude, or as Bocvarov called it, “happiness.” He mixes things up with soy sauce and chipotle adobo on raw beef filet and places the tartare on a pedestal of compressed rye bread. “I personally enjoy spicy steak tartare, so I sprinkle dried pepperoncino on top for some added kick,” Bocvarov said.
Giuseppe Tentori, chef/partner, GT Prime, Chicago
Chef Giuseppe Tentori and Boka Restaurant Group opened a take on a classic steakhouse two years ago. Just like Tentori’s first Chicago restaurant, GT Fish & Oyster, this place puts a focus on the ingredients and also on theater. GT Prime has a rustic-luxury vibe in its furnishings (faux-fur bar stools!) and the meat bleeds luxury as well. “We source very high quality prime beef for our steak tartare,” Tentori said. “It’s seasoned very simply so that we can really highlight the meat. Our tartare combines so many flavors…there are notes of sweetness, salt, acidity and bitterness [mustard seed, malt vinegar chips] that hit every part of your palate at once for a flavor explosion.”
Jose Mendin; chef; Habitat; Miami Beach, Fla.
Chef Jose Mendin and his Food Comma Hospitality Group partners opened the outdoorsy, 200-seat Habitat inside the 1 Hotel South Beach last November. The menu is divided into “Land,” “Sea” and “Fire,” making ordering and eating feel primal — especially when you’re literally sucking marrow from a bone, as in the steak tartare variation here. Drawing from Spanish, Latin and Asian influences, Mendin’s food goes off on tangents. Steak tartare with plump caper berries, yuzu Dijon and a diminutive quail egg yolk seems logical inside a bone, succulent with marrow. Bread is optional.
Stephen Dunne, Volo Restaurant Wine Bar, Chicago
Proving that quail eggs are never a bad choice for steak tartare, this dish uses geometry for emphasis: an angular mold for the tartare, and then the delicate, organic shape of the yolk. Chef Stephen Dunne considers the dish to be “rooted in the DNA of the restaurant,” something that will likely never leave the menu. He relies on strong mustard and sweet shallots to develop the one-two punch of balance against the raw meat, keeping the presentation simple with minimal parsley.