Peter Luger Steak House

(Brooklyn, NY) Back in the day, when we were still developing our foodie skills and using television to explore, we heard about a mythical restaurant in Brooklyn called Peter Luger Steak House. These shows would tell the tale of an old-school eatery that knew the value of hand-selected prime cuts of beef and on-premises aging. We made it our mission to visit Luger's one day, and even though previous trips to NYC got us close, we'd never been able to swing it, until now...


He Fed:
Despite New Yorkers warning us off Peter Luger Steak House for the last year, promising much better fare to be found within Manhattan, I can't deny a certain frisson of excitement upon seeing the Peter Luger logo on the building as our cab draws closer. This is what we've been waiting for! A friendly doorman opens the entry and bids us welcome.

Inside, a packed bar filled with lively conversation stands to the left. We approach the host stand, where I give my name to a bespectacled gentleman who sizes me up shrewdly before checking his list. "It'll be just a couple minutes," he says and indicates we should wait against the wall. If either of us had been in the mood, we could have enjoyed a beer while waiting but we're saving that precious stomach space for the feast ahead. We peruse the awards hung on the wall, watch the vivacious people and scurrying waiters interact with each other, then are shortly led to a nice table near the front dining room window.

Our waiter is friendly and efficient, with a dry sense of humor. He knows it's our first time and takes very good care of us. After hearing so much about the restaurant, we already know what we want: Steak for Two. We also order a bottle of the house red (bottled in Napa), sparkling water, french fried potatoes, and onion rings.

As most of you know, I enjoy the occasional lean filet. I'm not big on other cuts of beef; fatty sirloins and porterhouses are just too rich. Having said that, when our Steak for Two arrives—already cut and perfectly prepared medium-rare—all my fears slip away. Our waiter serves us each two slices to start, from either side of the bone, and spoons the buttery drippings on top. I take a bite... Steak Nirvana.

The tender meat, softened by the butter and fat, dances along my tongue and teeth, then glides down my gullet way too easily. A sip of the dry Cabernet helps mediate the slippery sensations, and a couple fries bring my taste buds back to life. The onion rings are the only disappointment, looking more like mangy strips soaked in too much grease. The fries, though...oh, the fries! It is entirely impossible to stop eating them, even when I am stuffed.

Not too stuffed, unfortunately, when our waiter returns to congratulate our complete decimation of the steak and perversely suggest key lime pie for dessert. Key lime, of course, is my kryptonite. Somehow, I managed to "fill in the cracks" (as a friend of ours likes to say). The pie is prepared authentically, with just the right amount of puckery tang.

As I count out twenties (cash only), I can't imagine a better porterhouse anywhere. This isn't the best steak I've ever had, but it most definitely is the best porterhouse I ever expect to eat. If my heart can take it, maybe we'll be back for our 25th wedding anniversary.
She Fed:
Great grandmother's spatula! We're finally going to Peter Luger's. Jeremy has been pining to go and despite several trips to Manhattan over the last three years, we've never made the trek to Brooklyn before tonight.

We receive a lukewarm greeting as we enter and the host looks slightly bored as he checks his reservation list for our names. Jeremy and I will not be deterred, so we cool our heels in the bar/entrance/lobby, soaking up the surroundings. A framed Zagat certificate for every year since 1982 lines the walls. The bartender is pouring drinks at a fast and furious pace. Someone at the end of the bar is clearly a regular who's been out of commission for awhile, as several waiters make a point of coming up to greet him and welcome him back. All the servers (all male by the way) are attired in white shirts, black trousers, white aprons and black bow ties. I can't think of any other way to describe it, but there's a Sopranos vibe going on here. (The kitchen staffer who hulks out of the kitchen through the bar in a blood spattered apron helps further the vibe.)

Now rumor has it that Peter Luger waiters pride themselves on being aloof and purposefully rude. There are also stories of waiters harassing customers that request menus. This was not the case with our server who is prompt, friendly, and checks on our table throughout the evening. In fact, all the waitstaff are cordial and warm as I observe their interactions with nearby tables.

Our dinner arrives and it is exactly what I expected. A large porterhouse for two carved and served au jus table-side, a large platter of French fries, and a large platter of onion rings (two of their most highly rated sides according to Jeremy). The steak is cooked perfectly and tastes divine with big beefy flavors, very tender but with enough chew to let you know it's beef and a slight char on the outside. The French fries are probably the best fries I've ever had. Piping hot, super crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, they are supposedly basted in beef drippings at some point during the cooking process. The onion rings are a perfect cross between onion straws and big puffy onion rings. But the steak is the star of the show and I go back for seconds.

I adore the concept of a porterhouse shared between two people. You get the tender buttery filet portion and the chewy meatier strip steak side; it's the best of both worlds. I can't think of a better summer meal than a grilled porterhouse carved over a big green salad.

So after all the anticipation, research, and the $20 cab fare, is Peter Luger's the best steak I've ever had? No, I'm sorry to say it's not. The experience of Peter Luger's and those amazing fries are worth at least one visit and for us this was a "must do". But I've had steak just as good elsewhere, including at home on my own grill.
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Comments

  1. Lugers has has been my birthday spot for 30 years. Guess times do change, favorite sides have always been the creamed spinach and homefried potatoes. I thought the onion rings was just a side served with their burgers.
    Guess I'll have to try the french fries next time.

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  2. I think Juliet would have tried the creamed spinach, but I was too gun-shy. The fries turned out to be a nice surprise, and you can't beat Luger's customer service!

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