Paul - I can see just why you asked about "that taste" in beef that you fondly recall. I went through the various food sites looking for reviews of the steak places you listed. Pretty much all of the critics had the same story - great looking steak that cuts with a butter knife and LACKS FLAVOR. To be honest, the diet they feed the cattle has to be the most logical reason. As it is with much fruit --- appearance is everything - who cares what the taste is!
The French had a classic problem with this - the chickens from Bresse were famous for their taste. So famous that many unscrupulous suppliers began to sell "Bresse" chicken that had simply been shipped via Bresse. Meanwhile, the plethora of cheap, less flavorful chicken came to predominate and a taste for the "real thing" began to fade. In America many people apparently think that the taste of a Burger King or McDonald's chicken sandwich is the way chicken should taste. Once the consumers fall into this state of unknowing and lack of discrimination, the restaurants have to cater to their other than taste senses - vision, texture, etc. The fact that this seems to have happened to the social groups that eat at the best steak houses in Boston is a bit shocking and an indictment of the culinary education of our "cultural maximizers". They will pay $30 plus for a steak that lacks flavor - and keep coming back for more. Why should the people who run these Boston Steak Houses care?
What is a guy like you going to do? I would think that you would have to locate a cattleman who feeds his cattle the kind of diet that produces flavor in the beef. Somebody who realizes what is going on in the world of mass consumption -- and breeds his cattle for beef taste. I knew such a rancher out on the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Christo Mountains in New Mexico. I lived in one of his cabins way up back near the peaks above Las Vegas NM. He had his own stash of beef and I could score what I needed from him to prepare at home. He died about 20 years ago and his ranch was sold and divided. I spent many hours in his living room talking about the world. The long walk back to the cabin was made easy by the good food in my backpack. I can hardly describe the joy of seeing the cabin down the trail - standing alone in a blazing field of wild-flowers and me,hefting the weight of a couple of weeks worth of beef on my shoulders, as I stepped along by the stream coming down from the forest above.
The world of taste is a tough world to comprehend - but it's a lot tougher if you just do not care. You do care - and what you say is important to me.