Why, WHY can't restaurants provide a real sharp knife with meat?

The last several times I have ordered a steak or prime rib, the server proudly presents a large serrated knife that maybe will slice through warm butter with only a minimum of sawing action. When I request a real sharp knife, I get a blank look and they exclaim that the implement provided IS a sharp knife… I usually end up using my pocket knife, which is actually sharp. Anyone else annoyed by this practice?

I haven’t encountered that, not in recent years anyway. When I order a piece of meat that needs a sharp knife they always provide one.

It’s generally accepted that a serrated knife is the better cutting instrument for steaks.

Serrated knives are also easier to maintain their edge vis-a-vis a smooth edge blade. (In fact, a proper double-grooved serrated knife will almost maintain its edge indefinitely.)

Those factors in combination is why steakhouses, and most steakhouse diners, prefer a serrated knife, even if the latter group is generally oblivious to its advantages.

Take the tomato as an example. In theory, one can just push a blade through a tomato, so a razor polished plain edge should be the perfect instrument. However, because the tomato is soft, and unless the plain edge knife is very sharp, the tomato will simply squish when you start pushing. You can (and most do) use a slicing motion with the plain blade, but if it’s even a little dull it won’t cut well and it may not even break the skin. Use a sawing motion, however, with a serrated knife (even a dull one), and the tomato will slice fine. Same holds true with a steak.

How are they supposed to stay sharp ? With all the abuse .

I think you and ipse pretty much summarize the knife issue. Straight-edged blades require regular maintenance - serrated blades not so much.

A restaurant is a business. Properly maintaining knife blades is labor-intensive and somewhat of a specialized talent. Specialized labor usually can charge a premium for their services. A restaurant like a steak house must provide knives that are designed primarily used for cutting (as opposed to a tool to e.g. guide food onto a fork). To provide each of their customers with an actual cutting utensil is already an additional cost. Add the cost of maintaining the edges on straight-edged blades will add up fast. A serrated blade is the obvious choice for its effectiveness and economic practicality.

Most can sharpen a knife blade with enough practice. Few can competently sharpen a blade to where it has a fine edge and without marring the finish above the edge.

The knives in question were more of the toothed variety, not the scalloped serrated–they look more like a hacksaw blade. They also make sharpeners that will touch up an edge with a single swipe through them. Friday morning, every knife could be run through and the restaurant would be getting rave reviews about how tender there meat is–the knife almost falls through it…

BYO, problem solved

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Maybe try different or better steakhouses?

I can’t remember the last time I received a miniature saw for a steak knife. Probably when Sizzlers was still in its heyday.

This occurred in mid-level steakhouses across the country… Outback, Texas Roadhouse, Great Basin Brewery, etc… When you are traveling and hitting the hotel of the night at 1900 hrs, you don’t have time to find good ones before they close. Even those that look good on the i-net seem to go with these ‘hacksaw’ type knives. I will continue to slam restaurants that do not provide a SHARP knife with a meat entree, a pepper grinder or automatically put a slice of lemon in the water glass… These show disrespect to the customer.

There’s your problem right there.

No,This is NOT a problem… These are restaurants that are near hotels and easy to find for travelers… also, in most towns, these are the only restaurants above the level of Dennys or a local coffeeshop/diner that serves ‘select’ grade meat and the only wine choices, if at all, are the red box or the white box…

Expecting restaurants of that ilk to have real steak ware is the problem.

Expectations of that kind simply sets you up for disappointment.

I mean Outback. Good grief.

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The real question is, why are there no good restaurants in some parts of the US? The bad knives are just one detail of the fundamental problem.


Agree. Places like that serve mediocrity. One has to wonder if any employee making decisions as to e.
g. the type of steak knife to provide has actually thought the process through. Have they experienced for themselves what the results of using a knife like that described is like? If they did take the time to try sawing steaks with a fine-toothed blade and were satisfied with the experience, then what can one say about that eating establishment?

Lets be careful here.

What I think you are really asking is “why are there no restaurant that I like in some part of the US?”

Plenty of people are fans of Outback. Big fans.

And those people are no worse than you and me. Or better. At least when it comes to restaurant choices.

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It says that establishment is Outback.

People who like Outback don’t know or care much about food. Restaurants of that type are about giving people too much food for less money than they’d have to charge to make it good. I file that under Americans are weird.

I went to Outback once by mistake (confused it with Houston’s) when in a town with no non-chain restaurants. It was fun in a sort of culture-shock way.

Do you realize how elitist you sound?

Rhetorical question. In case you were wondering.

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To me it’s less elitism than incomprehension. I haven’t spent enough time with people who don’t love to eat to have any insight into their lives. When I go to parts of the US where there are no good restaurants I feel much more like a foreigner than I do in France or Italy.

“I haven’t spent enough time with people who don’t love to eat to have any insight into their lives. When I go to parts of the US where there are no good restaurants I feel much more like a foreigner than I do in France or Italy.”

Answers the elitist question.