Serving Old Beef Is a New Trend at Steakhouses

Some restaurants are starting to serve dishes made from older cows

Capital Grille Beef
Cuts of beef age in a walk-in cooler a Capital Grille. (Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty)
By Evan Bleier / August 5, 2019 11:21 am

Putting old beef on the menu is a new trend at steakhouses across the nation.

Though the practice is fresh in the U.S., it’s not a new idea in the culinary world as restaurants in Spain, especially the Basque region, have made serving up “vaca vieja” — Spanish for “old cow” — a tradition.

Standard practice at American steakhouses is to serve meat from two-year-old cattle because meat from older cows tends to be tougher and more susceptible to disease. But, meat from older cows also does tend to have a richer flavor.

To give diners an option to experience those older cuts, steakhouses in locations like Las Vegas, Chicago, Texas and Boulder have started serving up steaks cut from cows ranging from eight to 12 years old. In some cases, the steaks are dry-aged to make them more tender.

Though the restaurants have had some difficulty in determining the best way to market their older offerings, many of them tell customers something along the lines of that beef, like wine, gets better and more flavorful with age.

“It has a deeper, more mature flavor, almost like a better glass of wine,” diner Rebecca Phelps told The Wall Street Journal after trying a 10-year-old cow. “It’s like comparing a Pinot to a rich Cab.”

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