The Great Steak Hunt

Taste-testing the best real dry-aged steaks for sale locally reveals a lucky, lucky, steaky, steaky metropolitan area

Point taken. But on the other hand, I'm never going to forget Bruce's rib eye, and I can see a certain logic to just constantly circling Clancey's, waiting for another magic steak to appear. (CLANCEY'S MEATS & FISH, 4307 Upton Ave S., Minneapolis, 612.926.0222)


This newish chain of specialty meat markets has been growing incredibly fast. How fast? I took home a flyer from their Highland Park store that said they now had 16 locations, but by the time I got to the website they had 18. Fast!

Cynthia Forster Cavanaugh with the dry-aged wares at her family-run shop
Jana Freiband
Cynthia Forster Cavanaugh with the dry-aged wares at her family-run shop

Location Info


Forster's Meats and Catering

11255 Highway 55
Plymouth, MN 55441

Category: Restaurant >

Region: Plymouth

Clancey's Meats & Fish

4307 Upton Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55410

Category: Restaurant > Deli

Region: Edina

I have to confess I initially went to Von Hanson's for one reason and one reason alone: a lingering sense of fair play and inclusiveness. I went to a lot of other mom-and-pop butcher shops for the same reason, but you're not going to read about them, because they aren't worth your time. That said, I'll further confess that my misgivings about Von Hanson's stemmed from sheer, shallow looksism; I figured the kinda cheesy exterior would reveal an interior where they sell lasagnas of quiet desperation.

Well, score one for the great American spirit of fairness; Von Hanson's has some of the better dry-aged steaks you'll find in the metro, priced at significantly less than you'd expect. I tried their boneless premium Black Angus aged rib eye, which was, the butcher told me, "choice aged" on the premises for at least two weeks. It was the cheapest of all the aged rib eyes I tasted, at a low, low $11.99 a pound, and scored very, very high in taste. To look at raw, the steak was a really deep strawberry-wine color, and had the least fat on it of anything I tried--meaning, of course, more meat per dollar. The taste was classic top-tier steakhouse: winey, smoky, well concentrated, and classically meaty, in that sort of essentially beefy, well-knit way. "It tastes expensive," concluded one of my friends, and the steak was called "the expensive one" for the rest of the tasting. Oh, irony, why must you follow me everywhere I go? (VON HANSON'S MEATS,


Lunds is one of the only places where you can get prime beef, that rare two percent of beef that the USDA has decided is so gorgeous, in terms of its marbling, and is superior to all other beef. (Marbled, marbling, etc: The white streaks of fat that run through the red beef and create flavor as they melt.) Most other beef is labeled "choice." Worse than that? "Select." And somewhere, someone is eating beef graded "Utility." Sigh. But not us in this paragraph. Here, we are eating the best there is, prime.

Almost all prime beef is sold exclusively through restaurants, and everyday Joes never get a chance to cook it themselves. Except here. See it to believe it, folks. Marbling? Good God. The rib eye I got from Lunds had more marble than a Kohl's bathroom showroom--spiderwebs of white threaded through every bit of the bright-orange-tinged cranberry exterior. This thing was the Gisele Bundchen of looking at steaks. When I unwrapped it at the barbecue, there were literally whistles and sharp intakes of breath.

And at $18.99 a pound, there better be. This was by far the priciest steak I found, but it had so much eye appeal that two of my friends at the barbecue declared it the winner before it was grilled and tasted.

After it was grilled and tasted, though, not so much. It quickly became known as "the hammy steak," after one of my friends declared, "It weirdly tastes like ham. In fact, I'm prepared to say it's bizarrely porklike."

Remember how I mentioned that another dry-aged meat is prosciutto? Well, the Lunds prime dry-aged rib eye we tasted had that sort of intense taste of ferment, with a distinct edge of acidic red wine, like a Chianti, and to my palate, a fairly strong note of liver. It was a sweet, livery, bacony steak. According to the butcher I bought it from, at the Edina Lunds, this particular steak had about 18 days of age on it. I'm glad I tasted it beside the others, and if you've got the dough, you might splash out sometime this summer just for experiment's sake.

After trying this, I feel far more confident in declaring that a good choice steak can be better than a very expensive prime one. Then again, if I was making some kind of teensy super-chef kind of appetizer with, say, a little cube of steak on top of a square of oven-dried tomato, I would probably use a prime aged steak from Lund's, because it makes quite an impression.

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