Meat Market Redefines "Steakhouse"
By Lee Brian Schrager
The dining room at Meat Market
Pushing the boundaries has become a habit for co-owner/executive chef Sean Brasel, as he redefines the idea of “steakhouse” at his Lincoln Road outpost, Meat Market. Brasel, along with his partner of more than a decade, David Tornek, is known for launching the successful restaurant Touch on Lincoln Road back in 2000, which garnered national acclaim for its ambitious, contemporary American fare. (Who could forget those delicious lobster blinis?) At Meat Market, Brasel’s approach transcends the traditional, infusing dishes with elements such as white truff le, bittersweetchocolate mole butter and mango-Scotch bonnet sauce. For the past two and a half years, Brasel’s been wowing the crowds in the heart of Lincoln Road. After all, he says, “I really cook the way I like to eat. Standard gets a little boring. I like to experiment.”
|Co-owner/executive chef Sean Brasel|
You really take the term “classic steakhouse” up a few notches at Meat Market. Tell us about your approach.
SEAN BRASEL: It’s a lighter setting and feel than the traditional steakhouse. Sixty percent of our business is female, and we’ve paid great attention to that—starting with the lighter menu items and half-size portion offerings. We think of Meat Market as a steakhouse for the new generation.
Touch was very successful. Was it a difficult decision to close, move across the street and launch a whole new concept?
SB: Touch had a great nine-year run. We were able to sell the building, start all over and try something else. I think Meat Market has a totally different audience than what we had at Touch, which attracted more tourists. Meat Market garners significant local attention.
One of the items found in the Reserve Cuts section of your menu is a 16-ounce Prime ancho- and coffee-rubbed filet mignon. How did you come up with that?
SB: I was actually experimenting with this marinade for our buffalo entrée, but found it worked best with the bone-in filet, as it’s a thicker cut with a bit more fat. With more fat in the cut, the rub bleeds in as it cooks.
Many steakhouse chefs are very particular about where they get their meat. What’s your secret to a great cut?
SB: I like specific suppliers for certain cuts. Snake River Farms in Idaho has the best American Kobe rib eyes and skirts. Creekstone Farms in New York has the best rib eye. And I really think King Canyon in Nebraska has the best buffalo.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY GREG CLARK