Mahogany Prime’s five steps
toward making it perfect
David Osborn, general manager for Mahogany Prime Steakhouse, has served up tender, flavorful, premium steaks to Omahans for years. Crafting a beautiful, melt-in-your-mouth steak from cut to table is an art, and Osborn has it down. Here’s how he makes it happen.
1. Spend some time in the Marines.
Osborn, an Omaha native, spent eight years in the Marine Corps infantry as a mortarman and a hand-to-hand combat instructor. Running a restaurant, Osborn says, isn’t far removed from being a Marine.
“You have to execute 100 percent every day (at the restaurant),” he said. “In the Marines, you absolutely have to do that, because all your buddies are relying on you to do the right thing every single time. Here, the guests are relying on you, because they want the same thing every time they come in. They want consistency.”
The Marine Corps approach seems to be working. Consistent service and products have boosted Mahogany’s staying power in a competitive market, he said.
2. Take care of people, especially your staff.
After Osborn left the Corps, he went back to college and took a job waiting tables. He was studying economics; he figured he’d become a stockbroker. But the restaurant industry proved to be his calling. “I fell in love with taking care of people,” he said.
Osborn worked as a waiter, bartender and a trainer before moving into management. At Mahogany, his team meets every week to discuss the needs of the restaurant. Training occurs continually – even servers with years of experience may find themselves learning something new and honing their approach. Service is tailored to each table and what each customer wants out of the dining experience.
He relishes the opportunity to train and support the staff.
“A good day for me is having a busy restaurant,” Osborn said. “But it’s also watching the staff grow. That’s where I like to hang my hat – when the staff has learned something.”
3. Pay attention to the meat.
What makes Mahogany’s steak so good? “It’s the way we cook it and where we get the meat,” Osborn said. Mahogany steaks come from L&L Packing Co. in Chicago. Steaks are hand-selected and hand-cut, and attention to detail makes a difference.
“The prime (steak) market is the top 3 percent of all meat served in the world,” Osborn said. “We get the best out of the top 3 percent.”
Mahogany is also unique in the cuts of steak it offers. Its best-selling steak is a rare cut – a bone-in filet. “You always hear of bone-in strips or bone-in ribeyes, but you very rarely hear of a bone-in filet as it’s a difficult cut to execute,” he said.
The cut combines the tenderness of the filet with the flavor infused into the meat from the bone marrow and marbling. It’s his wife’s favorite. “Once you try it, you’re hooked.”
4. Invest in a 900-degree broiler and a 400-degree plate-warming oven.
Mahogany’s huge broiler cooks steaks at 900 degrees from the top and bottom. “It sears the steak, and keeps all of the juices locked in,” Osborn said. “That helps keep the meat really tender and flavorful.”
But the perfect steak is more nuanced than just cooking temperature. Because each steak at Mahogany is hand-cut, there are variations in thickness that equate to variations in cooking time. The Mahogany cook who broils the steaks handles up to 80 steaks at a time in the broiler, cooking each exactly the way the customer likes it.
Once the steak is cooked perfectly, it is served sizzling on a 400-degree plate so that each bite is hot. “You won’t find that halfway through the steak, it loses its luster,” he said.
5. Love your steak.
Osborn’s relationship with steak goes back a long time. Growing up, his mom would ask him every year on his birthday what he wanted for his birthday dinner.
“Every year, it’s been steak on the grill,” he said.
Mahogany Prime Steakhouse
13665 California St.
Monday – Thursday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.