The High Price of Beef

Prime Ribeye from J&G Steakhouse, Scottsdale, Ariz.

How much are you willing to pay for a mouth-watering “Chicago-style” bone-in ribeye steak, cooked just right, perfectly seasoned, with a caramelized crust on the outside and a warm pink center? Forty dollars? Fifty dollars? Morton’s steakhouse in downtown D.C. revised its menu a few months ago to reflect the rising cost of beef—that bone-in ribeye will now cost you $55. The “Signature Cut” New York Strip is $57. When I asked the manager about the prices, she nodded regretfully. Several years ago, then-manager of the Chicago Chophouse John Pontarelli told me his restaurant held off for as long as it could with the same prices but eventually gave in. (Pontarelli, a longtime Chophouse fixture, is now at Gibsons in Oakbrook.)

When I asked Buzz Beler, the legendary owner of D.C.’s The Prime Rib, about raising his prices, he told me that “if I marked up my beef as it should be, and I got a 30-35 percent food cost, I’d have to get to $65 a steak. We rely on our great wines to be able to make a profit.” (At Wolfgang Puck’s CUT in Las Vegas, the ribeye costs about $60.)

Still, I’d prefer forking over $60 for a good steak than an ostensibly free steak dinner that may ultimately cost me … four years in prison. As noted in today’s New York Post,

A wealthy accountant spent thousands of dollars wining and dining top Nassau County cops—showering one with gift cards and sports tickets—as he orchestrated a corrupt effort to keep his druggie son out of jail for a burglary, authorities said yesterday.

Gary Parker, a generous police booster, dropped more than $17,000 on lavish meals at places like Morton’s steakhouse to show his thanks to Deputy Police Commissioner William Flanagan, Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter and ex-Deputy Commander Alan Sharpe, sources said.

The three disgraced cops surrendered yesterday on charges related to the scrapped 2009 criminal probe of Parker’s son, Zachary.

I hope they at least ordered the “Prime Ocean Platter” and the double porterhouse. Imagine going to jail for the Chicken Christopher?

Kudos to the Long Island Press for breaking this story.

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