"Surf and Turf” (or “Surf ‘n’ Turf") is a restaurant dish featuring both meat and seafood, often filet mignon and lobster tails. The term appeared in print by at least 1961; an early name of “Turf and Surf” is seldom used today. It is not known what restaurant first served the dish or first thought of the “Surf and Turf” name for it. Many 1960s citations are from California and upstate New York.
Other similar terms appeared from the 1960s, such as “Beef and Reef,” “Land and Sea” and “Fin and Feather (for seafood and chicken).
Newer versions of “Surf and Turf” often eliminate the lobster and consist of steak and shrimp (or steak and crab cakes).
Wikipedia: Surf and turf
Surf and turf or Surf ‘n’ Turf is a main course particularly common in North American steakhouses which combines seafood and meat, usually American lobster tail or shrimp (usually either grilled or breaded and fried) and steak.
The term originated along the Atlantic coast of North America. Its earliest-known published use is in a 1967 advertisement in the Buffalo, New York Yellow Pages, placed by a restaurant called Michael’s House of Steaks. Jane and Michael Stern claim that it was served under this name in the SkyCity restaurant (in Seattle’s Space Needle) at the 1962 World’s Fair. In the Sterns’ Encyclopedia of Bad Taste, Surf ‘n’ Turf epitomizes culinary kitsch: “the point...is to maximize hedonistic extravagance” by ordering the two most expensive things on the menu; that is, the menu is guided not by aesthetic concerns, but for the sake of vulgar display.
What is Surf and Turf?
”Surf and turf” is a restaurant term referring to an entree which includes a portion of meat and a portion of seafood. Some people sneer at the concept, arguing that a surf and turf meal is simply a showy extravagance, since it usually incorporates expensive ingredients and can be the most expensive thing on the menu. Steak houses and mid-range restaurants, especially along the American coastline, frequently offer this main course, usually indicating that it is a surf and turf plate on the menu.
The term appears to have originated along the Atlantic Coast of the United States. The “surf” in the title clearly refers to seafood, usually lobster or another crustacean. “Turf” is any type of grass-fed land animal, but usually refers specifically to beef in the form of steak. In the late 1960s, restaurants along both coasts were using the term, often in advertisements designed to highlight the range of offerings at the restaurant. In Australia, the dish is better known as “beef and reef.”
The meat on a surf and turf plate is typically grilled, and served with a rich sauce. The seafood may be boiled, grilled, fried, or baked, depending on the restaurant and the choice of seafood. Higher end restaurants may keep the portions of both relatively small, allowing the diner to have a small taste without being gluttonous, especially with lobster, which is a very rich meat. On the low end of the spectrum, restaurateurs serve larger portions of cheaper meat, which can lead to a decline in quality.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
surf and turf, n.
Cookery (orig. U.S.).
Forms: 19- surf and turf, Surf and Turf, Surf & Turf, surf ‘n’ turf, Surf ‘n’ Turf, Surf N’ Turf.
A dish containing both seafood and meat; esp. one combining lobster and steak. Also in extended use.
1967-8 Buffalo (N.Y.) Metropolitan Telephone Directory 489/4 (advt.) Michael’s Hse of Steaks… Superb steakslobsterchickensurf ‘n’ turf.
1970 Washingtonian Aug. 92/1 (advt.) The menu features..the Surf and Turf, a mouth watering combination of lobster tail and filet mignon.
1974 Times 9 Feb. 13 It is not even a particularly good city for steak, though there is already one new place..that offers for £2.25 the pointless combination of fillet steak and crawfish tail that in a thousand dim restaurants across the Atlantic goes by the name of ‘surf ‘n’ turf’.
13 August 1961, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. N7:
The “Turf and Surf” is an interesting combination: lobster tail and small beef tenderloin.
17 December 1961, Los Angeles (CA) Times, calendar section, pg. 18 ad:
Surf & Turf
Australian Lobster Tail & Choice Top Sirloin Steak
(Happy Hollow on Silver Lake Blvd.—ed.)
8 March 1963, Dunkirk Evening Observer (Dunkirk-Fredonia, NY), pg. 12, col. 1 ad:
SPECIAL MENU FEATURE SUNDAY…
TURF & SURF DINNER
of Lobster Tail & Filet Mignon
(The Village Squire in Fredonia—ed.)
26 June 1964, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, pg. 18, col. 2 ad:
Surf and Turf Plate
Broiled Lobster Tail and a Petite Filet of Mignon on Toast
Mushrooms on Toast, Potato, Vegetable Salad, Coffee
(Seneca Manor, between Waterloo and Seneca Falls—ed.)
7 August 1964, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, pg. 6, col. 1 ad:
SURF AND TURF
A delightful hackney house treat of delicious
Lobster Tail and sliced-tender Tenderloin 3.95
4 November 1966, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, pg. 8, col. 2 ad:
Surf & Turf...$3.95
(2 LOBSTER TAILS—1/2 LB. SIRLOIN)
1967-1968 Buffalo (NY) Yellow Pages, pg. 483, cols. 2-3:
“TURF & SURF DINNERS”
4346 Bailey Av.
1967-1968 Buffalo (NY) Yellow Pages, pg. 489, col. 4:
MICHAEL’S HOUSE OF STEAKS
SURF ‘N’ TURF
(Cor Niagara & Prospect)
949 Prospect Av...886-8929
On a restraunt menu what is considered surf and turf? is it just steak and lobster?
1 year ago (2007—ed.)
Best Answer - Chosen by Voters
Traditionally, “surf and turf” is steak and lobster, but modern versions include steak and shrimp, as well as steak and crab cakes.
The 2007 winner for “Hell’s Kitchen” on Fox used crab cakes for his version of “surf and turf”.
New York City • Food/Drink • (0) Comments • Wednesday, December 24, 2008 • Permalink