Where's the beef?

By MC SLIM JB  |  June 4, 2008

The same drill (sans paddles) holds today at the Midwest Grill, where the meat jukebox pumps out an endless string of hits with a well-charred crust: dripping sirloin, beef short ribs, garlicky lamb loin, bacon-wrapped chicken breast, various sausages like kielbasa, and slightly cartilaginous but liverishly tasty chicken hearts. You’ll begin with a visit to a buffet for hot and cold salads and vegetable sides. Do get some white rice, beans, and plantains, but remember you’re here for the animal protein. Now sit down: the infinite rotation (rodizio) of churrasco will come to your table. Keep an Atkins-like focus on the grilled meats, especially that wonderful salt-crusted sirloin. That will help you make the most of the all-you-can eat price ($18.95/lunch; $24.95/dinner).

You might even do something healthy for your cardiovascular system by ordering a bottle of red, such as the 2006 El Portillo malbec ($22), a pleasant quaffer from Argentina’s Mendoza region. Leave it to Brazil’s similarly beef-obsessed neighbor to deliver wallet-friendly wines that beautifully complement steak.

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Bone-in prime tenderloin at Prezza

Prezza
24 Fleet Street, Boston | prezza.com | 617.227.1577
I’ve long admired Prezza chef/owner Anthony Caturano’s Southern-Italian ability to allow good ingredients to shine in unfussy preparations, as well as his judicious application of more refined Northern techniques and sauces. Caturano, who spent a stint in the Piedmont, clearly learned a thing or two about beef. A big chunk of his menu is devoted to premium wood-grilled steaks and chops, such as wood-grilled prime Angus sirloin ($42) served with classic steak-house accompaniments of chunky mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. But the real knockout here is bone-in prime tenderloin ($46) with a fine char redolent of wood smoke, a steak to rival any filet from Boston’s platinum-card steak houses.

With antipasti in the mid teens and pastas pushing $30, you may wonder how Prezza rates as a bargain. The secret is its bountiful portions: two diners with normal appetites can happily split one three-course meal here. For example, you might start with an antipasto of prosciutto, roasted red peppers, basil, and buffalo mozzarella ($15), a model of Italian simplicity and pristine flavors. For your primo, you could share an order of raviolini with ham and mascarpone ($28), which intimates the advent of warmer weather with the verdant flavor of fresh spring peas. With your steak, a contorno of white beans ($8), simply prepared with a drizzle of quality olive oil and some arugula, would add a homely Tuscan touch and ensure your satiety. Your check would just nudge $100 before wine and tip. Add amenities rarely seen in the North End — parking, reservations, attractive modern décor, a fabulous wine list, dessert, and a full bar with well-crafted cocktails — and you could call this one of Boston’s better premium-steak deals.

080660_myers_main
Tigers Tears at Myers + Chang

Myers + Chang
1145 Washington Street, Boston | myspace.com/myersandchang | 617.542.5200
It’s easy to approach Myers + Chang with a queasy cynicism, as I initially did. It’s pan-Asian, embracing Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Cambodian cuisine. Such places rarely surpass restaurants that pick one cuisine and stick to it. The owners are an industry power couple: Joanne Chang of the upmarket Flour bakeries, and Christopher Myers of Radius, Via Matta, and Great Bay. Glamorous folks with that much PR exposure can’t be paying attention to the food, can they? Larded with some self-consciously hip marketing (like a twee MySpace page for a Web site), the whole package gave me a sinking feeling.

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