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Steak with benefits at Lou & Mickey's

A new dry-aging room gives Gaslamp prime steakhouse an edge

Prime dip au jus, made from dry-aged New York Strip
Prime dip au jus, made from dry-aged New York Strip

Because of its plum location across the street from the Convention Center, at the left leg of the gateway arch welcoming visitors to the Gaslamp Quarter, prime steakhouse Lou & Mickey’s struck me as a tourist-facing restaurant. But it did something recently that changed my mind: installed its own dry-aging room.

Place

Lou and Mickey's

224 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

Found in the back right corner of Lou & Mickey’s old-school elegant, wood-finished dining room, the glassed-in cooler offers patrons a window into the aging process of primal cuts of beef, en route to becoming prized 30- 45- and 60-day aged steaks. On shelves within the acculturated, climate-controlled room, specially selected airborne microbes form a protective crust on the surface of two-foot long blocks of ribeye, porterhouse, and sirloin steaks, allowing their beefy interiors to become denser, richer, and more tender as protein chains break down muscle fibers into more palatable meat.

Prime steakhouse next to the Gaslamp Quarter gateway arch

To accomplish this, all beef is aged one way or another prior to turning up at a grocery store or on your plate. The more conventional wet-aging process is faster and cheaper, closer to 10 days or two weeks, and like most cheaper processes, yields lesser results. Dry-aging is slower and riskier, yet more rewarding the longer it goes. The Lou & Mickey’s room must be kept around 35 degrees, at 85 percent relative humidity, and if those conditions change, phone alerts go out to the restaurant’s chefs and managers, because thousands of dollars’ worth of prime beef are at stake.

A new dry aging room at Lou & Mickey's

When the primal cuts have properly aged, their crusts are trimmed and they’re butchered into steaks on site, with different-sized offerings served at 3 to 4 dollars per ounce. At $3.25 and ounce, a 16-ounce serving of 30-day aged bone-in ribeye would be $52. At $3.60, a sumptuous 60-day porterhouse of the same weight still comes in under 60 bucks, and worth every penny.

However, while not unreasonable in prime steak (and real estate) terms, these remain special occasion prices for most of us. Fortunately, rather than wait for my birthday to roll around again, I found a place to enjoy the quality of Lou & Mickey’s aged on-site beef at a lower cost: its lunch menu.

Primal cuts of beef spending time in climate controlled dry aging room

See, wherever prime beef is butchered, there are prime beef trimmings left behind for the kitchen to turn into delectable bargain dishes. Consider Lou & Mickey’s meatballs: assembled from the trimmings of prime ribeye and New York steaks. You may order them as an appetizer with gouda and gravy ($15), or on a sandwich with marinara and ricotta ($18).

Then there’s the $18 country-fried ribeye steak. They make these from the entrecote: bone-in ribeye steaks are cut flush to the bone with a band saw, which leaves thin steaks of boneless ribeye behind. It’s the same prime, 30-day ribeye you may order at dinner, just thinner, and battered.

The fantastic meatballs wind up the most flavorful, but my pick for a $20 lunch is the prime beef dip sandwich. Both the dipping broth and thin slices of beef in this sandwich are made from trimmings of Lou & Mickey’s aged New York Strip, topped with parmesan cheese, and served on a center-split, Italian-style, thin-crust roll. All this adds up to the finest au jus sandwich I’ve eaten downtown, something that I wolfed down in five minutes of ravenous glee, but should hopefully tide me over while I dream about aging steaks.

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Prime dip au jus, made from dry-aged New York Strip
Prime dip au jus, made from dry-aged New York Strip

Because of its plum location across the street from the Convention Center, at the left leg of the gateway arch welcoming visitors to the Gaslamp Quarter, prime steakhouse Lou & Mickey’s struck me as a tourist-facing restaurant. But it did something recently that changed my mind: installed its own dry-aging room.

Place

Lou and Mickey's

224 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

Found in the back right corner of Lou & Mickey’s old-school elegant, wood-finished dining room, the glassed-in cooler offers patrons a window into the aging process of primal cuts of beef, en route to becoming prized 30- 45- and 60-day aged steaks. On shelves within the acculturated, climate-controlled room, specially selected airborne microbes form a protective crust on the surface of two-foot long blocks of ribeye, porterhouse, and sirloin steaks, allowing their beefy interiors to become denser, richer, and more tender as protein chains break down muscle fibers into more palatable meat.

Prime steakhouse next to the Gaslamp Quarter gateway arch

To accomplish this, all beef is aged one way or another prior to turning up at a grocery store or on your plate. The more conventional wet-aging process is faster and cheaper, closer to 10 days or two weeks, and like most cheaper processes, yields lesser results. Dry-aging is slower and riskier, yet more rewarding the longer it goes. The Lou & Mickey’s room must be kept around 35 degrees, at 85 percent relative humidity, and if those conditions change, phone alerts go out to the restaurant’s chefs and managers, because thousands of dollars’ worth of prime beef are at stake.

A new dry aging room at Lou & Mickey's

When the primal cuts have properly aged, their crusts are trimmed and they’re butchered into steaks on site, with different-sized offerings served at 3 to 4 dollars per ounce. At $3.25 and ounce, a 16-ounce serving of 30-day aged bone-in ribeye would be $52. At $3.60, a sumptuous 60-day porterhouse of the same weight still comes in under 60 bucks, and worth every penny.

However, while not unreasonable in prime steak (and real estate) terms, these remain special occasion prices for most of us. Fortunately, rather than wait for my birthday to roll around again, I found a place to enjoy the quality of Lou & Mickey’s aged on-site beef at a lower cost: its lunch menu.

Primal cuts of beef spending time in climate controlled dry aging room

See, wherever prime beef is butchered, there are prime beef trimmings left behind for the kitchen to turn into delectable bargain dishes. Consider Lou & Mickey’s meatballs: assembled from the trimmings of prime ribeye and New York steaks. You may order them as an appetizer with gouda and gravy ($15), or on a sandwich with marinara and ricotta ($18).

Then there’s the $18 country-fried ribeye steak. They make these from the entrecote: bone-in ribeye steaks are cut flush to the bone with a band saw, which leaves thin steaks of boneless ribeye behind. It’s the same prime, 30-day ribeye you may order at dinner, just thinner, and battered.

The fantastic meatballs wind up the most flavorful, but my pick for a $20 lunch is the prime beef dip sandwich. Both the dipping broth and thin slices of beef in this sandwich are made from trimmings of Lou & Mickey’s aged New York Strip, topped with parmesan cheese, and served on a center-split, Italian-style, thin-crust roll. All this adds up to the finest au jus sandwich I’ve eaten downtown, something that I wolfed down in five minutes of ravenous glee, but should hopefully tide me over while I dream about aging steaks.

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Comments
2

Yes. This is a great place to spend time with friends in a comfortable atmosphere. Love it

March 23, 2019

Someday the time will come when I will stop eating junk food, but how difficult it is to refuse this yummy.

March 28, 2019

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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