Peter Luger Steakhouse

17Apr08

It’s a traditional steak house in EVERY sense. What does that mean? I’m not sure. But I’m pretty certain very little has changed since their opening night 120 years ago, including some of the waitstaff.

As we entered the restaurant, we were met with every corporate suit in this side of town. Whether they were in the Italian mob or hailed a cab from Wall Street, I couldn’t tell. After a very obvious look down by our host, we waited a few minutes to be seated. I guess one should assume a thorough look down if you’re dressed in t-shirt and jeans in a well-suited crowd, but I wasn’t expecting the obvious look of complete disparagement. If you’re looking for a sweet and smiley hostess to kindly seat you in your booth for 2, you’re at the wrong restaurant. These middle aged men are working to bring you what they believe is the best steak in New York, not what they learned in charm school as a lad.

In any case, I took it like a man and waited for my steak. Apparently I took it too well, because our waiter delivered a cut of beef that could have easily been an entire side of a calf. SIZZLING hot on a ceramic plate you would only see at your gramps’ house, it came pre-sliced and oh so pre-tty.

The first thing I noticed was the large pool of fat drippings on the plate. It wasn’t until our waiter took a spoon and actually scooped UP the drippings and poured it on to our slices of steak that I was taken back a bit. In the age of healthy eating and the downgrading of calories, fats, and carbs in every product you purchase at the market, this was a novel idea. To literally have grease be poured over my steak was a bit gross. But when in Peter Luger’s

A bite in to my medium rare steak (highly recommended, unless you want another glare of malice) proved Peter Luger’s reputation as one of NY’s top steakhouses. I don’t know the technical words to describe what I ate, but the meat itself was so incredibly dense (?) that it made for a melt in your mouth experience. Whereas a grainy texture can be sometimes chewy. Border patrolled with a line of fat, the steak had the perfectly charred edges and a bright red and warm center. The sides of German potatoes and creamed spinach should also get recognition for best supporting roles. All in all, the meal was saturated with richness and received high marks across the wooden plank table.

We couldn’t leave without having some SCHLAG. Schlag is German whipped cream-an intensely thick cream that could probably hold your spoon up. Our hot fudge sundae was the perfect ending to a decadent meal. Also very rich, we were surprised there weren’t any bits of steak lingering at the bottom of the glass.

If you’re looking for a no frills steakhouse, Peter Luger’s is the place to go. Since I don’t have the appetite, or wallet, to appropriately compare it to other famous steakhouses, I can’t (on the record at least) say it’s the best.

With so many new restaurants entering the scene daily, I’m sure there are steakhouses than can produce as fine a quality of steak with a much broader appeal. But PL’s does what it does best and doesn’t bother with the rest. You don’t linger and wait for the waiter to bring you a “how can we better serve you” survey with your check. If not for the steak, you come to honor the tradition, respect the consistency, and admire their unyielding notion of what it means to run a restaurant.  

For an industry known to always “put their customers first,” Peter Luger stands out as an exception to the rule. And only in that sense, are they anything but traditional. There’s something intriguing and quite sexy to be told what to eat and how to eat it. Even if it’s ordered by a 60 something year old man.

Oh, and they won’t accept your average credit card. That’s how much you matter to them.

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2 Responses to “Peter Luger Steakhouse”

  1. 1 Mint

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  2. 2 Mel

    Gah! That picture makes me drool.


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