Savor: Let Them Eat Steak

BY Rebecca Germain

The first cattle known in North America were brought ashore in what is now known as Sarasota Florida by the Spanish in 1521.

In addition to being the year of explorer Ponce de Leons demise this was also the year that the Sunshine State became the first place on the continent to have a beef industry of any kind. Just a handful of centuries later steak is an American cuisine staple the perfect way to celebrate birthdays and graduations engagements and anniversaries holidays and homecomings. The local steakhouse it seems is our new home away from home. And thats good news here on the Azalea Coast because while seafood might be our specialty were definitely no one-trick pony. From world-renowned steakhouses to local upscale eateries Wilmington caters to every steak lovers dream and desire.

At 115 S. Front Street tucked away in Historic Downtown Wilmington Aubrianas serves steak with culinary creativity each dish fused with flavors from around the globe innovation and invention in every bite. And if steak has a reputation for rustic luxury then Aubrianas exposed brick archways and crisp white linen table settings provide the perfect atmosphere.

If youre fortunate youll drop by Aubrianas when theyre featuring the ribeye. According to Chef Hakim Clemmons the ribeyes generous marbling gives it a full buttery flavor that releases as it cooks. This cut of meat also complements a wide array of flavor combinations. Enjoy Aubrianas 18-ounce top-choice ribeye steak chargrilled then drizzled with Chaucer sauce a combination of brandy roasted garlic sun-dried tomatoes and crushed peppercorns. Its presented over a warm risotto cake with a side of steamed asparagus. Another evening sample the ribeye blackened in a cast iron pan and topped with Stilton a creamy blue cheese hailing from Great Britain. Chef Clemmons finishes this dish with thinly sliced onions fried in a tempura batter a crispy creation he calls haystacks. “The ribeye is so versatile ” says Clemmons “and when its on special it kind of intrigues people to come and try something new.”

From Wrightsville Beach a short drive over the Heide Trask drawbridge will take you to Port City Chop House (1981 Eastwood Road). Executive Chef Matt Kahrs has been with the restaurant for almost six years. He explains that every steak at the Chop House is Certified Angus Beef a brand known for its exceptional flavoring marbling and juiciness.

Port City Chop Houses signature steak the “Bone In” Filet fits that high profile to a tee. Traditionally filet mignon is mild in flavor but leaving the bone in allows the marrow to flavor the meat as its cooked. Port City Chop House seasons this 12-ounce filet on both sides with a combination of salt pepper garlic onion parsley and caraway seeds. Afterwards its cooked to perfection on a searing hot grill. Once the steak is prepared to temperature (Chef Kahrs recommends medium-rare: a warm red center) its glazed with garlic butter and served with a choice of eight stellar steakhouse sides including creamed spinach sauted mushrooms and hash brown potatoes.

If you prefer your steak with a little something extra go “Oscar.” Your filet will be topped with steamed lump crabmeat that rests below a teepee of asparagus the entire arrangement smothered in Barnaise sauce. Chef Kahrs professional opinion? “If I could I would eat Oscar on anything I put in my mouth.”

At 301 N. Water Street nestled inside the Hilton Wilmington Riverside Ruths Chris Steakhouse serves up steak with a delicious history. In 1965 on Broad Street in New Orleans Ruth Ann Udstad opened the doors to the very first Ruths Chris Steakhouse. From the beginning Ruth wanted her restaurant to serve the best quality food in a comfortable approachable environment. Her steakhouse philosophy became a global phenomenon today steak connoisseurs can enjoy Ruths Chris at locations as far away as Tokyo Japan. Thankfully were fortunate enough to savor her steaks right here in the Port City.

David Sadeghi COO of Big Steaks Management the company that owns Wilmingtons Ruths Chris Steakhouse says “People love the filet for its tenderness the ribeye for its flavor. But if you want tenderness and flavor go for the New York Strip.” Ruths Chris New York Strip is a mouthwatering 16 ounces of USDA Prime corn-fed Midwestern beef. Hand-selected and meticulously aged USDA Prime meat comprises only 2 percent of all beef. Since Ruths Chris places such emphasis on the quality of the steak its preparation is inspired by simplicity: Each steak is sprinkled with salt and pepper and then seared at an impressive 1 800 degrees. A dollop of fresh butter finishes the steak melts on contact and then sizzles until the moment its presented to your table. Bon apptit!