Skip to main content

While a staple for some and unnervingly adventurous for others, steak tartare has always been a dish of quiet sophistication celebrated in top restaurants around the world. Despite steak tartare being such an overtly beefy dish, it was originally made with horse meat (cheval) – which is a common delicacy in countries like Switzerland today. One theory is that steak tartare originated from Genghis Khan’s Mongol warriors, who conquered Europe by horse in the early 13th century. Legend has it that the Tatars, Turkish mounted nomads who merged with the Mongol armies, placed slabs of horse meat under their saddles prior to a day’s marauding. The meat would be tenderised by nightfall after a long day of soldiering. Yet, like all great myths, this one has probably stretched the truth. A likelier tale is that steak tartare evolved from the French Polynesian tradition of raw meat consumption, developing a penchant for eating horse when beef ran short during the 1870 Franco-Prussian war.

In 1903, legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier put steak tartare on the map and popularised it in France by publishing two versions of the dish in his cookbook Le Guide Culinaire, which is still considered a culinary bible in French cuisine: Bifteck à l’américaine (this had little do with any American food traditions, but instead followed the fashion of internationalism), which was topped with a raw egg yolk and served with capers, onions and parsley on the side; and bifteck à la Tartare, served without the egg, but a side of tartare sauce instead. As a dish with so few ingredients there was no place to hide, and Escoffier’s recipe called for the best ingredients that only the top Parisian restaurants could source. Over the decades, the distinction between these two versions was lost, and steak tartare was commonly served with a raw egg and the ingredients typically found in tartare sauce were mixed right into the dish or served on the side, like a deconstructed version of the sauce.

Today, steak tartare is an iconic dish in French cuisine but has evolved and spread across the globe, with many restaurants developing their own twist on the classic.



Dishes that combine raw ingredients such as ceviche and steak tartare require a deep understanding of flavour combinations, seasoning, high quality ingredients and the precision necessary to deliver an explosion of flavours in every bite. You can’t hide behind cooking and basting. At Belthazar, we use AAA-grade South African rump that has been finely minced by our butchery team. “Because of its proximity to the hip bone, ample fat cap and salinity, rump has the complexity, mouthfeel and natural seasoning perfect for high-quality steak tartare,” explains Ian Halfon, owner of Belthazar.

In addition to the ingredients, the preparation of steak tartare is crucial to preserving the freshness and integrity of the ingredients, ensuring each bite is a harmonious blend of flavours and textures. “Many restaurants serve it either far too chilled or too warm. At Belthazar, we pay close attention to achieving the perfect serving temperature,” says Belthazar Head Chef Sherwyn Rayners. Serve it too cold and the meat fats solidify, supr4essing the subtle flavours. Served too warm and the tartare loses its freshness and acidity.

At Belthazar, our steak tartare is served à l’américaine. The rump is finely diced and seasoned with olive oil, Maldon salt, cracked black pepper, Dijon mustard and Worcester sauce to accentuate the beef’s natural flavours. It is then shaped on a chilled plate topped with an egg yolk and served with finely diced capers and red onions for the guest to mix and add according to their own taste.

Bursting with flavour and meltingly tender, this is a dish that celebrates freshness, perfectly paired with a chilled light red.