There’s no getting around it. Steak tartare is raw meat. There’s a raw egg involved too. And it’s delicious. My favorite comes from my favorite hometown restaurant, Margot Cafe—where it was on this past weekend’s Bastille Day menu.
The “tartare” in the dish references the tartar sauce that was originally served on the side (à la tartare). Auguste Escoffier included a recipe in his 1921 Le Guide Culinaire, but the dish was called beefsteack à l’Américaine. No one seems to know exactly why— because whatever its origin, it definitely wasn’t in the U.S. of A. There’s a foodie myth that it originated with the Tartars of Central Asia (think Atilla the Hun). Rumor was they travelled with raw meat under their saddles, nicely pulverizing it for dinner on-the-go post-battle. Wholly unfounded info, however.
These days, steak tartare is standard fare on the menus of Paris bistros and brasseries. And often in Nashville at Margot. Lucky me. If you’re so inclined, food writer Michael Ruhlman urges you to try steak tartare at home.
Of course, it’s not for everyone. Mr. Bean (aka Rowan Atkinson) pretty much sums up the anti-steak tartare camp.
p.s. Whatever you do, don’t eat steak tartare from a kitchen you don’t trust. Same goes for sushi.