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John Tesar on Selling Steak by the Inch at His New Dallas Restaurant Knife

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Photo: Margo Sivin/EDFW

This week chef John Tesar's highly anticipated meat-centric restaurant Knife is opening in Dallas and while the menu features a range of carnivorous items (including a foie gras slider and a ham tasting) the real standout is the 240-day dry-aged ribeye steak. Unlike typical steaks which are sold by weight, the nearly eight month-aged steak can only be ordered by the inch.

According to Tesar, the restaurant will cut each steak to order from the whole primal cut. A one-inch serving, which will sell for $80, is not as small as it might sound. Tesar notes that it is about 24 ounces with the bone in and can "probably feed four people." He estimates that a a two-inch serving would comfortably feed four to six diners. (By way of context, Tesar explains a half-inch steaks are not possible because the meat would be "too thin to cook.") Tesar adds the flavor is so concentrated that selling it by the pound would be misleading. The meat is "very rich and very dry and it's difficult to eat that much of it. I want customers to be able to get a feel for the steak."

The flavor intensity of Tesar's dry-aged steak compared to other dry aged-steaks is due to both the length of the aging process and the fact that he develops white mold on the meat rather than black mold as most steakhouses do. The white mold imparts the pungent flavors of "bleu cheese, popcorn, [and] white truffle" into the meat. Once it's aged, Tesar brushes it with butter and cooks it at a very high heat ("you need that heat to cook through fat that old") and adds Maldon salt as needed. "It's similar to Iberico pork in that there's no other flavor like it in the world. You don't want to cover it up."

Inspired by the Riserva steak at chef Mario Batali's Carnevino in Las Vegas, Tesar set off to figure out how to recreate that flavor. Tesar says not many people do this kind of steak: "Aside from Batali and Adam Perry Lang, I am probably the only other person to spend the time and money and emulate it." Just aging the steak is an incredibly intense (and expensive) process: Tesar built a custom $50,000 special hanging meat box that must remain at 36 degrees Fahrenheit and 40% humidity at all times. The box also must be cleaned every day, and the moment black mold appears it must be patted away. The raw meat costs Tesar $40-45 per pound. While Tesar has a couple of select cuts for people to taste, the steak will not be available to the general public until October. Below, a picture of the steak and the customized meat box:

A one inch steak. [Photo: Courtesy of John Tesar]

The customized meat box. [Photo: Courtesy of John Tesar]

· Behold The Full Menu (With Prices) for John Tesar's Knife [Eater Dallas]
· All John Tesar Coverage on Eater [-E-]


5300 E Mockingbird Ln, Dallas, TX 75206