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Peter Luger Steakhouse (2001-2003)


Rosie
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Six dedicated members of the eGullet community, well maybe just people who are often hungry, found their way to Peter Luger's last Friday for a much awaited lunch. And what with the board being down last week, and it being a little more difficult to communicate than it normally would have been, you have to give the six attendees credit for not letting a little thing like the Internet get in their way of a meal. Actually, two people who originally said they were coming didn't show. Probably because they didn't realize that, there ain't no mountain high enough to keep us away from food.

We sat in the room to the right of cashier and hostesses, at a large round table right near the window. An optimal table for a lunchtime visit to Luger's since it has the best light in the room. The Luger's lunchtime menu is pretty much the same as the dinner menu, save for the addition of a few items. We ordered the following,

Tomatoes and Tomatoes and Onions

Steak for three

Prime Rib for two

Three Chopsteaks

Creamed Spinach

Bacon (Four large thick rashers)

The steak for three was actually two Porterhouse. Something that Luger's often does when the larger steaks for three are unavailable. If we had ordered steak for four, we could have gotten the same size portion, maybe steaks a hair larger. And the Prime Rib and Chopsteaks came with side dishes. Sauteed onions, mashed potatoes, string beans and french fries. But per person we each had a half a steak, half a chop steak and a third of a prime rib. In otherwords, six people ate for eight (burp.) Now despite the food being overcooked across the board (meat that is,) it was all astoundingly moist and delicious. We scoffed it all down (were there a few string beans left at the end?) in typical Luger's fashion which is, continue to take small portions of what is remaining on the table well after the limit you have set has come and gone.

Do people eat more steak when it is small slices rather than a big hunk of meat? I wonder if the Luger's style of slicing the steak into small pieces is intended to achieve that result. Or is it the fact that when it is sliced, more of the steak is exposed to the sauce and more of the meat is moistened that way? Whatever, they have come up with the carnivorous version of potato chips. And I have to give the chop steak special mention. It is the piece de resisitance of Blue Plate Specials the nation over. Tasting of the same aging process as the steak, but accompanied by sauteed onions and mashed potatoes that are worthy of having been served in the Fifties.

And topping the delicious food off is a German steakhouse environment that is a great backdrop for rolling up your sleeves and digging into the food, as well as rolling them up for some boisterous conversation. And we were so consumed in our discussions about the politics of food, as well as discussing the the politics of politics (I straightened all those right-wingers out,) that when we finally looked up we had eaten almost everything in sight.

We topped it all off with a few Hot Fudge Sundays (vanilla) that were split amongst the table. A good way of reconciling after people voiced such disparate opinions about food and life.  But regardless of what side of the poltical spectrum(s) you were on, I think to a person everyone would agree that a great meal, and a great time was had by all. In fact, I can hardly think of a better lunch revolving around meat in this town. I can't wait to do it again.

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Which place did you go? I'm heading up there tonight and Roberto's is friggin' closed on Mondays. I've never had a good Italian meal in the Bronx except at Roberto's. You know what, Plotnicki, don't answer here -- I'm going to start a new thread for this. Back to the Luger's discussion . . .

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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I recall from Joseph Mitchell's account of old-time New York "beefsteaks"* that the tradition for these seriously carnivorous beef parties was for the steak to be served sliced, dipped in sauce, and often presented on toast.  I wonder if some of that tradition survives in the Luger style of presentation  - or maybe they slice it for other reasons?

*In The New Yorker; re-printed in his collection Up at the Old Hotel.

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I'm sure that in part it's just tradition, but from a logistics standpoint how could you share a porterhouse steak without carving it up somehow? It's almost always shared by two or more people, and you can't just cut each side of the T-bone into a separate piece because one is tenderloin and the other is strip so everybody has to get pieces of both. I mean, it's not just a Luger's thing, or a German thing. Even in Italy if you get a porterhouse it's sliced. I don't think I've ever seen a large porterhouse not sliced in a restaurant.

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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Peter Luger overcooked the steak, and always does?  I haven't been there since my college days, in the mid-70's, but what I remember is asking for it rare, and everyone else at the table wanted it medium, so their procedure was to bring it out rare, then send it back for further cooking.  Well, it came out with, like, 1/32" of brown on each side and 2" of raw, literally cool red meat in the middle.  My friends were so overwhelmed by the aroma that they decided to eat it immediately, and as we masticated on this fine flesh, finally understood without reservation that humans were supposed to be carnivores.

Oddly enough, I really don't like beef steak, and was hoping that someone had ordered the burger --

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Answers to all questions.

Steve Shaw

Nina Wugmeister

Peter Cuce

Alan Rudnick

Lana of Moldavia

Me

Overcooking seems to be de riguer there. It's the type of place where if you want your steak blue, you better tell the waiter that you are going to send it back if it comes any other way. The most overcooked thing was the prime rib. I had toyed with the idea of sending it back but the waiter said that was the rarest he had.

Wilfrid if you are interested in attending a beefsteak, Beacon on W56th Street is having one on May 21. I went last year and it was lots of fun. But this year I will be in France.

Fat Guy you make a good point about Porterhouse being sliced. And in instances when it has come intact, we had to slice it up ourself.

Nina Wug-Yes you all had the same "wrong" view.

As for libations, I drank soda. They do not allow BYO and I wasn't in the mood for having wine with lunch. I think that the butter sauce on the steak, and the onions on the chop steak makes Luger's a better beer place anyway.

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Thanks Steve P for your description of lunch.  Vicarious lunch though it was, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Now Ihave some unfinished business to add to my list.  Lunch at PL.  Inspired idea.  Did you have dinner that night?

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The name is Peter Cuce, by the way, not Paul whatever you said.  And I had a beer, for those interested.  I didn't think the meat was overcooked because it was Luger's fault, I think we should have ordered it rarer than we did, in all cases.  Unfortunately, shy little demure me didn't open my mouth loud enough (but oy, look at my competition)...

...and Plotnicki, which particular view were we all wrong about?

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Jaybee-I was going to but my wife just crashed from her day and we never made it.

Pitter-I've gotten it rare on occassion. It depends if your waiter is on the ball about it. But I have the same problem at The Palm trying to get it as rare as I would like. Sometimes I think that restaurants spend so much time having steaks sent back for more time under the fire that they intentionally cook it past rare.

Nina-Now where do you want me to start? There are so many things that I feel like I'm trying to break into a circle.

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In the case of the prime rib it basically ruined the meat. That ruined meat at Luger's is still better than correctly cooked meat at most other steakhouses is kind of sad. But in the case of the prime rib the choice was eat it or lose it, because they didn't have any rarer portions (or at least that's what we were told) and since it's a pre-cooked thing you can't do much about that.

The portion of chopped steak I had was not overcooked. The regular steak was done slightly more than I would have liked but was still within the range of what one could rationally say we ordered so there I saw no grounds for objection.

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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I do think there's a tendency towards overcooking at Luger's but I think it has to do with the throwback nature of the whole place. This rare thing is a bit modern for a place that opened when you had to cook meat through or risk death. As long as you understand the code and under-order by one notch, you should be fine. That's the case at probably the majority of steakhouses in America.

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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  • 5 months later...

I'm very excited today as this is my "first" post as a new member of eGullet and what a great way to start but with my trip to Peter Luger over the holiday weekend. I've been waiting over a month for a prime piece of Porterhouse to touch my lips.....however, it looks like I will still be waiting.

I was very disappointed in the Porterhouse steak serviced to me not once, but twice. The first piece was "well done", the second was unevenly cooked, tasteless and 2 bites that were so chewy I had to use my napkin.

Moreover, their version of creamed spinach is nothing but a pound of butter and no heavy cream at all. The German home fries were acceptable, but the pecan pie was the best. Although the Brooklyn Ale was very good, but at $5 for 8 ounces, I'm no so sure.

I don't think I'll be taking another trip from NJ to Brooklyn any time soon.

I will continue to recommend the steakhouses from Manhattan (Smith and Wollensky and Post House) and frankely, The River Palm Terrace in Mawah NJ (a sister of the River Palm in NY), is still my favorite.

Glad to be a member,

Lima Bean

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Peter Luger has been over-rated for years. The other places you mention are better, as is Sparks. PL should have closed years ago, but the name and former reputation has carried them. Talk about living on past laurels - PL defines the cliche

But be thankful you didn't go to the LI venue, it's worse.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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