Secrets of a Sensational Steakhouse

Have you ever had an unforgettable dish at a steakhouse and then tried to recreate the experience at home? It’s almost impossible to make a home-cooked steak taste as great as the tender, mouth-watering one you got at the steakhouse.

From their cooking techniques to their choice of seasoning, to the experience of their Grill Masters and the sizzling hot heats they cook with, there are a number of secrets that make a steakhouse steak so good.

At Hog’s Breath Cafe, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to consistently deliver the best steak – each and every time. We see it as an art form, or a ritual, that’s been honed with care, dedication and expert skills. Don’t even get us talking about our signature 18-hour slow-cooked prime rib steak. Our Grill Masters slow-cook it for nearly a day and monitor our special ovens to ensure a tender, juicy and medium-rare prime rib steak. We then flame grill it to seal in the delicious flavours and cook it to your liking.

For all you meat-loving carnivores out there, we thought we’d let you in on some of the secrets of a sensational steakhouse.


Never, ever start with a thin piece of steak! It just doesn’t cut it. Steakhouse cuts are usually 2-3 inches thick. A thick cut allows the meat to be seared on the outside. With a thin piece of steak, it will be like leather before you get a chance to sear the exterior properly.

The outside of the steak should be brown and crispy, while the inside is tender and reddish pink. This process is called the Maillard reaction and it’s the difference between a bland, boiled piece of meat and a sensational, seared piece of meat. A chemical reaction happens when the heat breaks down proteins and sugars, producing new colours, flavours and aromas. The Maillard reaction explains the enticing smell that comes from baked bread, roasted coffee and, of course, seared steak.

You also can’t slow cook a thin piece of steak. Our thick and juicy 18-hour slow-cooked steak is ‘to die for’.

Premium quality beef

Cuts of steak

The best steakhouses use premium steak. Prime steak is a top grade of meat and has lots of marbling, which are threads of fat dispersed throughout the meat. Marbling increases the tenderness and flavour of the meat. You can make a home-cooked steak from chuck, sirloin or flank but you will never get the same tenderness.

A good steakhouse will have strong relationships with premium beef suppliers and will work hard to ensure that they get consistency with taste and tenderness. At Hog’s Breath Cafe, our signature steak dishes are graded to exacting standards. Unless you go to a premium butcher, it is hard to source a cut of meat that will be as good as the ones you find in a steakhouse.

Australia has a grading system that can help you choose a better quality cut of meat. The Meat Standards Australia (MSA) grading system is one of the most accurate grading systems in the world. The MSA system was developed by, and for, consumers. Over 100,000 consumers tasted and rated different beef samples and identified the key factors that deliver great cuts every time. The rating is based on juiciness, flavour, tenderness and overall likeability. A great steakhouse will choose an MSA graded premium cut of steak to ensure that you get a fantastic dish.

Season well

Slices of Steak on Breadboard with Seasoning and Knife

Seasoning steak is a secret weapon of steakhouses. There’s a common misconception that marinades tenderise meat. In fact, it doesn’t. Marinades add flavour to the meat, but steakhouses don’t use them as it hides the natural flavours of the meat.

Instead, they will usually season with coarse ground black pepper, parsley, sea salt and butter. Some will only use salt, while others use salt and pepper and some have their own secret blend of herbs and spices. At Hog’s Breath Cafe, we believe that steak should be salted well in advance. If you salt the meat, just before you cook it, the salt won’t have time to dissolve completely. The longer the better! It needs time to pull the juices out and then reabsorb them, meaning that your steak won’t dry out.

Some like it hot

It’s difficult to get a home stove as hot as the cooking equipment that’s used in a steakhouse. Their specialty equipment sears the steak on incredible heats and chars the exterior of the steak for a beautiful brown finish. While some steakhouses still pan-fry their steaks, most use infrared broilers or flame grills. An infrared broiler can reach temperatures over 1000 degrees and cooks a thick steak in a few minutes. If you tried to achieve this heat at home, you’d end up with a very smoky kitchen. Flame grilling the steak seals in maximum flavour and means that the meat can be cooked to your liking.

Rest before cutting

After cooking the cut of steak, it is important to rest it for the same amount of time that it cooked. You’ll really notice the difference in terms of flavour and ‘wow’ factor. When steak cooks, the heat and pressure are trapped inside the meat. When you cut into it, straight after removing it from the grill, the juices will pour out and it will feel soggy. A steakhouse will let the steak rest for 4-5 minutes and the juices will move from the centre to being more evenly distributed around the edges.

Steak grill masters

Nothing beats an experienced Grill Master. It may look like an easy skill to master, but cooking the perfect steak can take years to perfect. Cook it too soon and it will be too rare and, cook it too long and it will taste worse than a pair of gumboots.

Hungry for an 18-hour slow-cooked Prime Rib steak? Want to sink your teeth into a tender and juicy premium cut of steak? Find your local Hog’s Breath Cafe and book your table today.