Steak on a hot “lava” stone is a fun, interactive way to enjoy a meal. My one and only introduction to the genre left me wishing it was common outside of Germany.
When you think about it, it’s a bit odd that we humans seek out restaurant experiences in which we pay to cook our own food, when we could do that at home. I, for one, am a sucker for concepts like fondue and Chinese hot pot.
Steak on a hot stone follows this concept – raw meat served to you on a searing hot slab, cooked to your liking. Slice into small pieces and cook each bite or two as you go. If you can’t decide between rare and medium well, this style is for you! Cook one piece longer than the last for a different flavor and texture.
I’d never heard of the steak on a hot stone concept until friends in Germany introduced me to Steinernes Haus on Braubachstrasse near the Dom Romer in Frankfurt. This restaurant has the traditional look of a typical Frankfurt structure rebuilt to capture Frankfurt’s pre-war charm.
Its menu includes an array of traditional Hessian dishes, but its can’t-miss specialties are its steaks (pork and shrimp are also available) on a hot lava stone.
I ordered a small filet of beef. The raw meat was delivered to the table raw on a sizzling slab of commercial-grade stone, which reminded me of stepping stones in my grandparents’ yard growing up – the sort of thing usually designated for flooring, not so much as a cooking medium. Salad, three dipping sauces, bread, and a choice of potatoes accompanied the meat. Hint: don’t order the standard French fries, as they seemed like a frozen krinkle cut variety. If memory serves me correctly, potato wedges and another style of baked potatoes with cheese were tastier choices of starch.
Cooking one’s own meat involved little effort and a bit of experimentation. It was definitely one of the best steaks I had in Germany, as I could wonderfully undercook it if it so pleased me. The experience left me wondering why I’ve not seen it imported to the U.S.!