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Peter Luger Steakhouse (2001-2003)


Rosie
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Admin: The current discussion thread for Peter Luger Steakhouse may be found here.

Sol Forman, 98, owner of Peter Luger Steakhouse has died. His obit is in today's NY Times. Many people thought that this was the best steakhouse not only in NY but in the world. Do you agree?

Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

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First time I went to Peter Luger, I discovered they didn't take credit cards AFTER they brought the check :) I looked at the VERY large German waiter (what is the German for "320lb nose guard) and uttered a silent prayer when I found just enough in my pocket for the 赼 check. Then my stomach knotted up as I realized that was WITHOUT the tip. Fortunately, my 2 guests liked me enough to find the necessary cash (or maybe they had already seen enough blood on their steaks). That meal was wonderful enough to get me back there a further 3 or 4 times, although I have to say that I find it difficult to put a wafer between Peter Luger and The Old Homestead. But Peter has better sawdust on the floor, and MUCH bigger waiters ;)

(Edited by macrosan at 2:17 pm on Nov. 27, 2001)

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Rosie, absolutely not. The best steak house is my house after I bring home a porterhouse from Lobel's (about once a year). Seriously. though, I agree with Macrosan's conclusion about the wafer. I assume you're talking about just straight-ahead unadorned steak since I have had Fiorentinas here and abroad I have liked just as much as Peter Lugar's steaks. Of course I would never say no to one since among its breed there doesn't seem to be any steak place that clearly outdistances it.

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So is Old Homestead is really that good?  I've been meaning to try it for some time, but never made it.  Macrosan's comments have inspired me to get down there soon.  

As for Peter Luger, I wholeheartedly agree with the rave reviews on their steaks - as flavorful as any I've had.  However, I must admit I found the gruff service, long waits, and boatloads of tourists rather unbearable.  

So after a trip to nearly every major steakhouse in Manhattan (except the Old Homestead!), I have become a dedicated Sparks fan.  Consistently excellent and flavorful dry-aged steaks without the hassle of Peter Luger.    Anyone out there care to give an opinion on Old Homestead vs. Sparks?  Macrosan - what do you recommend in terms of cuts at Old Homestead?  

One other steakhouse note - I recently called the West 63rd Street Steakhouse (across from Lincoln Center) and got a recording saying they had closed.   Their steaks weren't on par with  Sparks, but I'll miss them as they were the only decent steak place I know of in my Upper West side hood.

Oh yeah, may Sol rest in peace.  You've got to love a guy that probably ate thousands of Peter Luger steaks and lived to be 98.

(Edited by Felonius at 12:45 pm on Nov. 27, 2001)

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I find it hard to distinguish degrees of goodness between well-prepared steakhouse steaks (although there obviously are differences in style).  I found the Old Homestead to be perfectly adequate but nothing outstanding.  I have eaten their sirloin and filet.   I recall enjoying Sparks's sirloin a little more - I wonder if they baste their steaks with butter?

Much easier to spot bad steaks.  I had a terrible, flavorless piece of meat at Gallagher's once (never went back).  

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In my humble opinion, there can be a meaningful difference between even the best steakhouses - in terms of style of preparation (i.e. Sparks vs. Peter Luger), flavor, and consitency in quality.  For me the biggest difference is dry vs. wet aged.   I can cook a perfectly good wet aged steak at home, and thus have no interest in going out for the same, for example the steaks at the Palm.   However,  dry aged steaks from top steakhouses such as Sparks offer flavor that is not so easily replicated.  I am sure there are butcher shops that can supply a superior dry aged steak, but I suspect  this is limited to a few select suppliers.   I have found that Sparks offers the most consistent quality of any of the dry-aged competition (i.e. Smith & Wollensky) in the city.   My other reason for occasionally choosing a steakhouse over other more sophisticated cuisines/restaurants is to enjoy the steak primarily as an accompianament to a great bottle of red wine.  Sparks has a strong wine list, including older vintages of many top producers from Bordeaux, and their markup is the lowest I have ever found in Manhattan.  They have Bordeaux from vintages such as 1982 and 1985 that are priced at 1/3 of what Daniel or Jean-Georges charges for the same bottle, and often 1/2 of what Smith & Wollensky charges.  If I am in the mood for some serious red wine, I usually head to Sparks.

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"Oh yeah, may Sol rest in peace.  You've got to love a guy that probably ate thousands of Peter Luger steaks and lived to be 98."

Paper said that Sol ate a steak or two everyday.

I like Sparks also. There is a restaurant in NJ called The Park in Park Ridge whose chef worked at Sparks for 35 years. We go there rather than NYC.

Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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I've been to Peter Luger's on several occasions and find the steaks excellent.  I've never experienced gruff service.  I haven't been to the Old Homestead in many years but I practically grew up there(my father had a business on W.16 th street).

Lately I've been going to Ben Benson's and I find the sirloin and filet mignon excellent.  The fries, hash browns and creamed spinach are incredible!  The service is very professional as well.

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  • 2 months later...

I too am a Peter Luger fan.  Although I haven't been to the other New York Steakhouses, I choose to believe what most others say when they indicate that I'm not going to top that Williamsburg classic.  I have discovered, thanks to The Fat Guy, an excellent Greek Restaurant in Astoria that serves up a dry-aged porterhouse for two that's pretty close to the Peter Luger version in terns of tenderness and flavor.  The name of the place is Christos Hasapos-Taverna (Butcher Shop and Tavern).  The Greek food is excellent, the lemon potatoes rival Luger's home fries as a steak accompniment and the steak for two is about $20 less.  And you can buy dry-aged proterhouse on the way out for $11.99 a pound.  Try it.  You'll like it.

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Giannone - I have to take exception to your characterization that Christos-Hasapos Taverna makes as good quality steaks as PL's. I don't think they come anywhere close. In fact, over the years I have tried many of the PL copycats and to a steakhouse they all fell flat. From Christos to The Embers to Knickebockers to the long deceased Tiffany's. They serve(d) steaks at no better than 70% of the intensity of the Real McCoy in my most humble (not really) opinion.

And I don't think I'm just making it up. PL's get much better quality of meat than the places I've mentioned. In fact, this board has it's own resident steak expert. Henry Strauss who posts as Hank ran a fancy meat wholesaler in the city for many years. One sunny Saturday afternoon in Hinsdale, Mass, Hank regaled me of the difficulites of trying to sell PL's some Porterhouse, and how they regularly got first choice from all the wholesalers. Maybe when Hank returns from Italy he will spin us a steak tale or two.

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Ben Benson's?

I haven't even thought of it in years, until I walked past  last week. It was closed (early on a Sunday afternoon), but the menu looked interesting.

Moda, IIRC, had a fascinating menu, as well.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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........ Many people thought that this was the best steakhouse not only in NY but in the world. Do you agree?

Luger is a decent, simple no-nonsense place. There are some really good steak joints

in EZE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) they might not be aged in the same manner like here, but oh!boy-o-boy if

one were to say "I'm a stuffed-goose " after one such meal, it would be a mild assertion of the  fact  :smile:  :smile:  There are also some good steak houses in GIG (Rio de Janeiro,Brazil) and NRT (Tokyo, Japan) too. Different from US style meat havens, havens nonethelesss.

I have begun to avoid the use of superlatives such as "best", "greatest" etc. in food  :smile: and in other

common comparisions for my own health and wellbeing.  :raz:

anil

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Steve Plotnicki,

All I know is that I had a hell of a steak on February 9th at Christo's and the next week I had a hell of a steak at Peter Luger's.  Also had one at PL in the middle of January.  That steak at Christos was seemed just as tender and although slightly different in flavor, just as tasty.  Someone indicated to me that Christo's recently changed hands.  Perhaps there's doing something different, perhaps I hit them on a good night or perhaps I got an exceptionally good steak for Christos.  I've been there many times in the past few years and although this particular steak stuck out a little above the rest, the difference was neglegible.  Maybe you should go back.  And if it isn't up to your standards you could always blame me for wasting your money.

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PL is tops in my steak book.  Has anyone eaten recently in La Cabaña in Buenos Aires?  I had one meal there many years ago and it sticks in my memory as one of the most incredible steaks meals ever.  Maybe it was just that fact that the steak was the size of a Buick.  I remember a steak dinner at Sostanza in Florence with great pleasure.  But given a choice of anywhere, and a sufficient appetite, Peter Luger's would be my first choice.  By the way, did you know that the restaurant belongs to the family of the wife of  famed publicist Howard Rubenstein?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Like many people, I find dinner at Peter Luger to be a stressful and unpleasant experience. To eat the best steak in America, you must endure inconvenience in getting a reservation, a near-complete disregard for that reservation upon your arrival, an uncomfortable standing wait in the narrow and crowded bar area, a crummy, crowded and noisy dining room, and hit-or-miss service. You must also be willing to rush through your fabulous steak in about 50 minutes despite the travel time invested (assuming you don't live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn), the expense of the meal, and the aforementioned wait.

At lunchtime, as I was reminded by a delightful midday visit yesterday, Peter Luger is a completely different restaurant.

No reservations are required, and there is no wait for tables. The dining room is quiet and sparsely populated, it is better cared for, and the natural light coming in through the windows gives the room a lift. The waiters, and the pace, are relaxed. And there are several ways to eat very, very well for less than $10 and for as little as $5.95.

There's a lot of lore about Peter Luger's menus, so let me clear that up a bit: There are menus. At dinnertime, if you immediately indicate your desire to order porterhouse and standard sides, chances are the waiter won't present you with menus, but there are menus nonetheless and plenty of people get them. At lunchtime, menus are presented in the overwhelming majority of cases. The dinner and lunch menus are different, though the lunch menu includes pretty much everything good from the dinner menu including of course the porterhouse. You are not presented with a dinner menu plus a separate lunch menu. You are presented with one menu document, a lunch menu, and it includes all the lunch items plus most of the traditional dinner items at the dinner prices. You will find people who will tell you Luger's doesn't have the porterhouse at lunch, or that it's not on the menu and you have to ask for it. This is false. It is on the lunch menu, and it is available for 2, for 3, etc. (steak for 1 is a bone-in New York strip, the waiter said, referring to this cut in the typically incorrect steakhouse fashion as "sirloin"), and it is the same as at dinnertime.

Likewise, the "Luger Burger" -- the main event of the Luger lunch experience -- is printed on the lunch menu (which exists; did I mention that?) at the bottom left, costs $5.95 (plus a buck or so extra for things like fries or bacon), and is 8 ounces (uncooked weight). If you confine your analysis to the "chopped steak" variety of steakhouse hamburger (which is one of several major schools of burgerology), it is very difficult to argue that there exists a better hamburger than the Luger Burger. The meat is absolutely first rate, purportedly from the excess trimmed from the steak-destined sub-primals. It is blasted under the same powerful broilers used to make the Luger steaks. And it is cooked reliably to order. The price is a delight. You can also get the same piece of meat in a slightly different configuration if you order the chopped steak (the chopped steak is on the menu and available every day, in case you'd heard otherwise) for $7.95. This comes on an oval platter swimming in juices similar to what the porterhouse swims in. It is appetized by Luger's excellent fries and a heaping mound of sautéed onions.

There are rotating daily specials, also well priced, and at lunchtime the bacon is always available. The bacon, which I had for the first time yesterday, is disappointing. It is neither particularly good as bacon nor as good as the similar bacon at MarkJoseph that I mentioned in my recent MarkJoseph post. It is hamlike, Canadian-style bacon, and not a fabulous example at that.

It should also be noted that just setting foot into Luger's gets you the bread basket, which contains, among other things, onion rolls to rival Ratner's.

Plus, though Williamsburg is on the whole now a safe neighborhood, Peter Luger seems to be in the worst part of it. At night, I've never been tempted to wander around there. But by day, it's well worth a postprandial (eGullet inside joke) stroll, in particular through the nearby Orthodox Jewish 'hood. I believe I spotted a misspelling on one of the Yiddish signs, which made me realize that I never think of there being misspellings on the signage in other languages. I mean, how about all those places in Chinatown with funny English usage on their signs and menus? Could there be equally hilarious mistakes in the actual Chinese writing too?

While there, I was reminded by a brochure on the table that Peter Luger is selling its steaks raw, retail these days as well. They're hardly cheaper than if you have them at the restaurant, but they are available on premises or by mail. This probably makes Luger's one of the two best butchers in America for steak, with the other being Lobel's. I also noticed when I returned home that Luger's has spiffed up its Web site of late: http://www.peterluger.com/index.html

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that the Williamsburg Bridge sucks.

Unless someone else is paying, I'm never going to Peter Luger for dinner again. Lunch is my Luger meal. Served from 11:45am until 3:00pm Monday through Saturday (no lunch on Sunday -- the dinner menu is served from opening until closing).

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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What might be a nice thing to do is walk over the bridge, if that's possible with all the construction going on, for lunch.  while they are different lengths, i think it couldn't take much more than crossing the brooklyn bridge which can be done in about 20 minutes at a brisk pace.  

I wonder if the Great NecK location also serves lunch.  I'm coming home for Spring Break and staying at my parent's place in Bayside.  It would be so much easier getting to Great Neck than Williamsburg for lunch.

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Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but as I recall the closest subway stop is the J/M/Z at Marcy and Broadway. Luger's is at Broadway and Driggs. So you get out of the subway and walk towards Manhattan along Broadway until you hit Luger's. Coming from Manhattan you can get these trains by transfering from the F at Delancey/Essex or from various trains that hit Canal, Chambers and Fulton. You can usually walk across the bridge, but I just don't find it pleasant under the current circumstances. Cab or car is most convenient if budget isn't an issue. There are usually gypsy cabs waiting out front to take people home.

Yes, the Great Neck Luger's is open for lunch.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The Great Neck Luger's served great food the last time I was there, which was probably four years ago,  maybe five.

However I cant attest for its quality now. I guess I'll have to stop by the next time I am visiting familiy.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I think your take on Luger's Lunch could not be more accurate.  You did however forget to mention that the hash browns (really home fries) are not available at lunch, and that the steak fries are much better (not available at dinner).  I am a huge Luger's fan for over 20 years.  Every 6-12 months I get a foreign intern in my office, and so long as they do a good job, I make a point of taking them to lunch at PL for a send-off meal.  The only problem with lunch at PL is that you fall into a coma after stuffing yourself and it is very difficult to return to work.

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Jordan, shame on me for not reporting the unavailability of hash browns at lunch. It never occurred to me that it was policy; the one time I ordered them, I just assumed the refusal was on account of them being out of them or otherwise unavailable just on that particular day.

Are you certain the fries aren't available at dinner, though? I seem to remember having them, but my memory isn't totally firm on the point. Also, I think Luger's German-style hash browns are quite good -- as good for what they are as Luger's fries are for fries.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Let me begin my discussion on Luger's with the statement that I am the fourth generation in my family to eat at Luger's regularly.  My grandfather had a factory around the corner.  My parents announced their engagement there.  And I love the steak and don't mind the ritual in the evening. I have to say I agree with much of what fat-guy said about lunch at Luger's.  One can say it's almost relaxing.  I do not agree on your comment on the bacon.  I find the bacon delicious and have been eating it in front of my family who gave up pork, shellfish, and cheese on their hamburgers years ago.  It is thick charred and just the right fat content.  Try it again.  One other thing, I agreek the Williamsburg Bridge sucks.  Take the L, stop at Planet Thailand for great pad see ew, and walk.  It's much more enjoyable.

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