A Cut Above – Knowing Your Beef at Harmon’s Steakhouse

By on January 11, 2023

Observing a beautifully marbled Wagyu beef steak sizzling in a cast-iron pan to attain its much sought-after crust, all the while being teased by the intoxicating aromas released by the searing of this prized meat, was the proverbial cherry on the top moment during my Harmons Steakhouse experience.

Since the fall of 2021, Harmons Steakhouse has been steadily providing meat-lovers with premium cuts of beef to satiate our carnivorous desires. Having said that, there is a vast difference between enjoying steaks and actually knowing about the varieties of steak being offered. So, to inform myself, I went directly to the source, Michael Korn, Harmons Steakhouse’s Chef de cuisine.

Harmons Steakhouse aging room where cuts of beef are aged for several weeks to several months before being trimmed and cut into steaks, in order to enhance their flavour and tenderness. Photo credit Liam Jaeger

Walking into Harmons’ kitchen and seeing the range of different steaks offered at the restaurant was exhilarating. But before digging into the meat (quite literally), I wanted to know more about the chef that was responsible for all this deliciousness. Cooking professionally for over 17 years, Chef Korn was brought into the Whalesbone group as their Chef de cuisine at their Elgin Street location. After five years, Chef Korn was presented with the opportunity to take on the role of Chef de cuisine at Harmons, which brings us to the day where I had the pleasure of witnessing Chef Korn in his element, behind the line with all those beautiful steaks and sharing his vast knowledge of beef with this eager student.

Chef Korn explained that Harmons’ in-house dry-aging program is a signature of Harmons as there are very few restaurants that dry age their own beef in-house. “We started dry aging beef at Whalesbone Elgin six years ago, and we’ve worked hard to perfect the art of dry aging. It’s something that we’re very proud of and is unique to our restaurant.”  For those that seek absolute tenderness in their steaks, dry aging is the method of choice to attain such decadence. Dry aging is a process that involves aging large cuts of beef for several weeks to several months before being trimmed and cut into steaks in order to enhance their flavour and tenderness.

I want our guests to be able to try steaks they wouldn’t have an opportunity to otherwise – Michael Korn, Chef de Cuisine at Harmons Steakhouse

Knowing your meat

Harmons aims to curate the best examples of meat to offer every guest their perfect steak. Hence, there are 15 different types of steaks from five different countries (Canada, US, Argentina, Australia, and Japan) being offered at Harmons. Chef Korn elaborated by saying, “we also wanted our steak selection to match the quality and diversity of our wine list. Part of the fun of wine is that the same type of wine produced in three places around the world will share similarities, but also be completely different. In the same vein, our guests could try three striploin steaks from different places around the world, and appreciate the differences between them. “

With such a selection, it can be rather intimidating when ordering, so I asked Chef Korn for some guidance. He broke it down into four categories:

  • Prime:  Harmons’ Canadian and American Prime offerings are the top tier of meat available in North America, and will taste like the meat we’re most familiar with.
  • Grass-fed: Australian and Argentinean grass-fed offerings are more of a robust beefy flavour with nuanced, grassy notes.
  • Wagyu Angus Crossbred: Both American and Australian. These steaks are great options for the first foray into Wagyu, or for someone that finds Japanese A5 Wagyu too rich. Described as a luxurious steak, still reminiscent of Canadian Angus beef, but with the intense marbling of Japanese beef.
  • Full-blood Japanese A5 Wagyu: A luxurious, decadent, over-the-top steak indulgence. The high content of marbling and fat are hallmarks of what makes the Japanese A5 Wagyu so delicious.

As Chef Korn started to cook my American Wagyu striploin, I picked his brain in regards to rules to remember when making a meat selection, and to my surprise, he stated that there are none. Everyone has their own preferences. On the same note, Chef Korn insisted that those seeking for an elevated steak experience, Harmons’ dry aged beef was the way to go for a more tender and flavourful steak.

Harmons Steakhouse aims to curate the best examples of meat to offer every guest their perfect steak. Photo credit: Zach Zimmerman

My American Wagyu striploin was cooked to perfection. I am talking about buttery richness with the right amount of crust. I can honestly say that the steak elevated not only my taste buds, but also my awareness in regards to flavour, texture, and tenderness that I now seek when dining out.

Harmons Steakhouse Chef de cuisine, Michael Korn showing how he cooks to perfection the American Wagyu striploin. Photo credit Brigitte Hasbron

What we serve in the restaurant and have for sale out of our butcher shop is some of the best beef available in the world – Michael Korn, Chef de cuisine at Harmons Steakhouse

To dine family-style is what Chef Korn recommends when dining at Harmons, “To really get the full experience, family-style dining is not only the best bang for your buck, you also get to try a wider variety of steaks.” Sounds like a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Family-style dining at Harmons Steakhouse gives guests the opportunity to enjoy various steaks and side dishes. Photo credit Zach Zimmerman

Finishing my last morsel of Wagyu, and trying my best to prolong this unbelievable steak euphoria, I sat back thinking of how fortunate we are to be able to not only have access to but also have the opportunity to taste some truly amazing cuts of beef produced around the world, right here in Ottawa. With an appreciation of elevated flavours and all things luxurious, Harmons has created an exquisite fine-dining steak experience for patrons to enjoy, one cut at a time.

**This article was first published in the lifestyle magazine Luxe Ottawa Magazine and was given permission to post on the author’s site.

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