Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Safeway and the "Restaurant Cut"

Completely innane post today, but I've been wondering about it for a little while now. For the last couple of months, Safeway, the supermarket has been putting out a new line of meat (only beef I think) with the label "Restaurant Cut."

I don't know what to make of it. What does "Restaurant Cut" mean? I grew increasingly suspicious when I saw that their "Restaurant Cut" line costs less than their regular "Ranchers Reserve" line.

Example: The Restaurant Cut Top Sirloin steaks are often on sale for $5/lb.. Meanwhile, the Ranchers Reserve Top Sirloin steaks are rarely on sale for $5/lb. and are more often on sale for $6 or $7/lb..

Does the Restaurant Cut come from a different place? Is it one or several USDA grades lower than the Ranchers Reserve?

Now that Alinna and I have been getting almost all of our produce from either the food box or from Frederico's market down the street (support local businesses!), meat is one of the few things we get from Safeway... well, that and Captain Crunch.

Any help on the Restaurant Cut? I've been too chicken to go and try it out.


Steve said...

I think Ranchers Reserve was always the "good stuff" and the regular cut always went nameless. They must have figured that in a world where we name everything (Like cell phones never had names, we went from the Nokia 8600 to the Motorola Razr, krzr, LG chocolate, etc), they needed to name the differemt quality of meat so when the Wifey tells the hubby to get some meat, hes can say "The Ranchers Reserve, or the Reastaurant cut?"

Otherwise, He'd say "the Ranchers Reserve?" and the wifey would say Yeah...she probably dont really care. except then she finds out Ranchers Reserve is a buck a pound more and then its on like donkey kong...and she goes, "Y you wasting money buying the good cut of meat?"

LOL...this is funny...FYI me and Yvonne dont do that.

Ben said...

They are all names and no more than that. The real USDA grading system is Prime, Choice, Select, in decending order of quality. Beef is mainly graded on the amount of marbling. The term "Cut" typically refers to which part of the cow the beef comes from, but in this case, Safeway is trying to imply that these are restaurant style cuts (perhaps thicker than typical steaks?) But it doesn't mean they are from a good portion of the cow or that they are better. For true rating, don't go by Rancher's Reserve, or Albertson's Blue Ribbon, go by the actual USDA ratings of Prime (which is typically $20/lb and only a small percentage of all beef), choice, or select. Or just use your own eye and good judgement.

Charles said...

Thanks for the post and subsequent comments. I faced this question today at Safeway for the first time (I don't regularly shop there) and was baffled. Now I know what I will (or probably won't) be buying.

Keep on posting!


Anonymous said...

I worked for safeway. Restaurant cut is a term that's applied to the way we cut our top sirloin steaks. It is still the same grade (it's all still mostly USDA Select from Safeway - the cheapest stuff they can get their hands on). Anyways this is what your standard Top Sirloin steak looks like:

All the restaurant cut is, is it has the top cap (the diamond shaped piece of meat on the far right of the steak above the fat) removed and the remaining steak is then cut in half.

The downside to the restaurant cut is that it has arguably the most tender part of the sirloin removed so that Safeway can use it to process Kabobs and Stir-fry which can add a hefty $2 or $3 per pound. Stay away from Safeway's Sirloin, I've bought and cooked them, and even me being an employee I took it back because it was not as tender as a Sirloin traditionally is.

Anonymous said...

In the phoenix area, Fry's and albertson offer choice and aged beef.
their prices are generally less than safeway (all of safeway prices are much higher). never shop there.

Parker said...

I don't know about the restaurant cut, but Rancher's Reserve is usually USDA select with the addition of a new, more predictive test for tenderness (Slice Sheer Force) than is used by the USDA. Cargill (which supplies Safeway meat) also employs a number of tenderizing technologies in the processing.

If you're not getting the tenderness you're expecting, chances are you're not cooking it correctly.

Anonymous said...

You need the jaws and teeth of a shark to chew a Safeway's a shame they sell this stuff