Cooking temperatures make preparing top sirloin in a steakhouse different from preparing it at home. Most steakhouses use a 450-degree-Fahrenheit flattop grill with two gas grills on either side of it for searing and cooking. Often, a cook is stationed at each grill, and they share the flattop. Other steakhouses use broilers that get as hot as 1,800 F to cook their steaks. You can best recreate steakhouse conditions with a cast-iron skillet and an outdoor gas grill, but you can also use your oven broiler. Unless specified, most steakhouses use USDA choice top sirloin, which you can get at any supermarket.
Set the top sirloin out at room temperature 30 minutes before you start. Steakhouses pull steaks out of the cooler before service begins -- using sales history to determine how many steaks they will sell each hour -- so they can start them from room temperature and get them to the guest as fast as possible.
Set up a gas grill with a very hot side and a moderately hot side. Turn the far left burner on a gas grill to high, the center burner to medium high and the far right burner to medium or medium low.
Most steakhouses use gas grills, but you can use charcoal. Light a charcoal tray full of charcoal and let it get glowing hot. Use tongs to push almost all the charcoal to the left side of the charcoal tray except for about 10 to 15 pieces.
Close the grill and let it heat while you sear the sirloin. Heat a few tablespoons of canola or peanut oil in a cast-iron skillet or stainless-steel frying pan on the stove over high heat until it starts to lightly smoke.
Season the sirloin liberally on both sides while the skillet heats.
At minimum, steakhouses use kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning. Most steakhouses, especially multiple-location operations, use special seasoning salt made for their steaks. Steakhouse seasoning salts usually comprise salt, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, paprika, brown sugar and pepper, along with a few dried herbs.
Lay the sirloin in the skillet and sear it for 2 full minutes on each side without moving it. You'll see smoke and hear some aggressive sizzling, but the steak won't burn.
Transfer the top sirloin to a plate and take it to the grill. Clean the grill grates with a grill brush and tap them with tongs to loosen and dislodge the carbon. Lay the sirloin on the hot side of the grill.
Cook the steak for 2 minutes then turn it a quarter turn and cook another 2 minutes. The quarter turn gives the steak the crosshatched grill marks you see on steakhouse sirloins.
Move the steak to the moderately hot side of the grill. Grill the steak another 2 to 3 minutes on the moderately hot side for medium rare, giving you a total cooking time of 10 to 11 minutes. You can lift the steak from the grill and check for an internal temperature of 125 F.
If you want a medium top sirloin, cook it for 5 minutes on the moderately hot side of the grill, giving you a total cooking time of 13 minutes. Medium steaks should reach 130 F before you take them off the grill.
Transfer the steaks to a carving board and cover the top of it with aluminum foil. Steakhouses let the steak rest for at least 5 minutes, but usually more, under a warming light or somewhere adjacent to the grill. You can recreate the warm environment by covering the steak loosely with foil.
Remove the aluminum foil after 5 to 10 minutes. And brush butter or olive oil on the steak. Plate the steak with the most attractive side -- usually the side with the neatest grill marks -- facing up and serve.
Set the top sirloin out at room temperature 30 minutes before you start. Brush the top sirloin with oil and season it to taste with seasoning salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Start the broiler and let it heat for about 5 minutes. Place the steak on the broiler pan and place the pan 4 inches below the broiler, usually the top position in the oven.
Broil the top sirloin for 5 minutes then turn it over and broil another 4 minutes for medium rare. If you want a medium top sirloin, broil it for 6 minutes then turn it over and broil it another 4 minutes.
Take the sirloin out of the oven and rest it for 5 minutes loosely covered with foil. Brush the steak with olive oil or melted butter before serving.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.