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Peter Luger Steakhouse (2001-2003)


Rosie
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Welcome to E-gullet Lima Bean!

Have you ever tried Sparks Steakhouse in NYC? If so, what did you think?

I too have given up on the trek to Lugar's. The wait, the lousy atmosphere and gruff service are just too much for me to bear at that price point. I've eaten at dozens of steakhouses in NYC and have found Sparks to be the most consistently excellent (for dry aged steaks that is), with Smith & Wollensky and Post House close behind. The sides are much better at those two than at Sparks, so I tend to split my steak dollars rather evenly between Smith & Wollensky and Sparks, depending on my mood.

Bobby Van's also does a credible job, with more of Lugar's style steak. For some reason though, their NY strip never seems quite as flavorful as those at S&W and Sparks. I suspect they don't age it as long.

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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.

Expect a barage of dissenting opinion. Eeeeeeek, I'm waiting for the thousands of responses :shock::shock::shock:

BTW, did you know that Lugers is the favorite steakhouse of the Coen brothers. Does that change your opinion?

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BTW, did you know that Lugers is the favorite steakhouse of the Coen brothers.  Does that change your opinion?

Actually, it solidifies my position. :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Rich Schulhoff

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

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I was at Peter Luger yesterday for lunch, I was served a typically outstanding steak, and I continue to believe that it is by a significant margin the best steakhouse in America or perhaps the world. I'm not sure how one proves or disproves this point other than to point to the consensus of expert opinion on the matter. Perhaps the most persuasive review in recent memory is David Rosengarten's in Gourmet, based on six visits and carefully articulated:

http://www.peterluger.com/gourmet.html

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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II'm not sure how one proves or disproves this point other than to point to the consensus of expert opinion on the matter.

Differing opinions allow Thoroughbred racing to exist. I've seen expert handicappers select different horses in the same race - and then one wins that neither selected. So both were wrong and they're professionals. But their opinions are still valid.

The first time I went to PL was in the late 60's (for my 18th birthday). It was excellent. However, over the years (in my opinion) it has gotten worse and worse. Tastes change as do restaurants and PL has declined by my observations and experiences (which are far from professional).

To me, Bern's is the best. No steak has ever come close for me.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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I have never been served anything but superb, delicious steak at Luger's, and I've been there many, many times, as well as to the other major steakhouses in NYC. I have never had to wait long for my table, I have always had decent service, and the atmosphere is what it is - I happen to like it. I order my porterhouse medium rare, and over the years, it has never, not once, been anything but marvelous. I think the fact that they maintain that level of quality, consistently, is incredible.

Now a specific steak question for y'all: my beau likes his steak black and blue, but says that he has a very hard time finding a steak done truly black and blue - charred on the outside, extremely rare on the inside. I've had black and blue steak at Keen's, but never at Luger's...any black and blue steak recommendations?

And please, don't be telling me about New Jersey or Saskatchewan steakhouses. I'm only interested (right now) in black and blue steak, in Manhattan, Queens, or Brooklyn. Ok, maybe the Bronx.

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Go ahead, tell me there's a steakhouse worth shlepping to SI for, better than Luger's.  That does a black and blue steak the way it's supposed to be, better than Luger's or Keen's or....?

I don't think there's a steakhouse on Staten Island. I just didn't want to be left out.

I enjoy steak black and blue as well (depending on the cut), and it's difficult to get right.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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When did Rosengarten write this?

Robert: It was sometime towards the end of his tenure at the magazine. I'm guessing 1999 or 2000, but that's only a guess.

Nina: I thought Tommy likes medium rare.

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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When you order "balck and blue" you need to ask the waiter if they really know what that means. Many places don't, and many waiters don't. So say "do you know what I mean? Does the cook know how to do that?" If they say I'm not sure, then you know you wil have a problem. Tel them to go in and ask the cook if he knows. Few people order this way so most green waiters don't understand what it is. Some will just say medium rare to the cook afraid to look stupid.

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FG - Have you tried PL on the Island? If so, do you think it's better, worse or the same?

Rich Schulhoff

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

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When some folks try PL's steak for the first time, they often remark that it doesn't really have the charred taste they are used to. There are no cross hatch marks, and no overtly blackened areas. This is because PL broils their steak rather than grilling it. The result is an even browning of the surface. I have always loved the way PL does steak. If anyone is in the "don't like it cuz it doesn't taste charred" camp, I don't want to dissuade you from your opinion, but try an experiment. If you return to PL, try cutting into the steak and eating several pieces from just the center with no surface at all. I think you will agree that the taste of the meat itself is superior this way as measured against a similar test done at Sparks or Smith & Wollensky. S&W's steak tastes the most charred, in my opinion, followed by Sparks. All three places do steak great, but PL edges out the other two for sheer quality of the meat.

Nina, in my opinion, the best way to prepare Black & Blue steak is by the dry skillet method. Have your beau (Tommy, is it? :biggrin: ) ask the waiter if the chef can prepare it this way for him. At home, I recommend the Craig Claibourne method. Dry cast iron skillet heated for 10 minutes on high heat. Then a sprinkling of table salt to coat the surface of the pan. Allow the salt to turn slightly brown, turn heat down to medium, then sear your inch and a half thick steak for 2 and a half minutes per side. Turn on the overhead exhaust if you have one, and by all means temporarily disconnect the smoke alarm!

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For the record, I have no idea how Tommy eats his steak. I don't believe we've covered that territory yet. Sushi, burgers, well that's another story. Heh.

Anyway...I once duplicated the Luger's methodology at home, and it worked. Exactly as you said, Haggis. But notice the next time that there are some scorch marks on the Luger's steak, but on one side only. Therein lies the rub.

I'll try the black and blue pan method soon.

Incidentally, I have some bison meat to use up...ground...any ideas?

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Gee I was hoping I didn't have to say this but, anyone who eats at Luger's and who can't taste the superiority of their steak, can't taste to begin with. But of course, that doesn't mean you can't go on an off night which has happened to me. But all in all, it's the one steakhouse I know that has created a proprietary taste to their steaks. It's a combination of the meat they choose, their method of aging and the way they cook the steaks which has been explained on this thread. In fact the number of Luger copycats are a tribute to just how unique their steaks are. From the Embers in Briarcliff Manor, to MarkJoseph in lower Manhattan, to the now defunct Dar Tiffany in Nassau County, to Knickebocker's on University Place and I'm sure there are others I don't know about, all those places are trying to copy the Luger signature.

To go there and to not get that out of it means something is wrong. Lima Bean, are you sure you really went there? How much steak experience do you really have? Or maybe you need to go back there with either Fat Guy or myself for a steak crash course?

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Congratulations, Lima, you've just received your official welcome from the Plotnicki eGullet Newbie Welcoming Committee.

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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Well I went easy on him. Because I have always found the steaks they serve at The Post House and Smith & Wollinsky's, while not bad steaks, inferior to the better steaks in town. To question Luger's superiority, while extolling the virtues of steaks that are closer to mediocrity than greatness raises serious questions. Aside from the fact that he could have been there on an off night, or have gotten a bad steak, stories like this always remind me of a wine tasting dinner I went to at Kensington Place in London about 4 years ago. There was a bottle of 1970 Latour there and the wine was off the charts good. But at the end of the night, someone who was an acquaintance of mine from a wine chat room came all the way over from his end of the table and sat down next to me. He said, "tell me, what about this wine is great? I don't get it. To me it tastes like......," I can't remember exactly what he compared it to but let's say it was shoe leather. And no matter how I explained it to him it didn't help. You see the problem layed in his tongue, not beneath the stars in the vineyards. And to this day the guy still doesn't get mature wine.

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In the 70s and 80s I probably ate 100 of PL steaks. I n the 90s, for some reason, we didn't go very often (maybe 5 or 6 times). A few months ago, I went for lunch with a bunch of EGers. Lo and behold, it was the same taste, the same quality, the same experience that I've had from day one. Yes, I've had a few off-nights, but not really that bad and not many. Not being done the way you like it is a problem--too rare or too well done, no matter how good add up to a bad experience. But "tasteless?" Never happened to me, not in 125 times.

So one of two things are happening here: , one is that you really hit an bad piece of meat; and, two, is that you really don't like the PL porterhouse.

Perhaps you're a strip steak lover and really don't go for the taste and texture of the porterhouse? As for the sides, the spinach and potatoes have not changed one whit since I first ate there. Too much salt in the spinach for me now, but that's my taste.

I've been to Sparks, Mortons, Michael Jordans, Smith and Wolensky, Christ Cella (when it was), Bruno's, Pietros, you name it, and none measure up to PLs. My advice, don't go there again. For some reason, what they do and what you like just don't match up. I'm not saying that as a put-down. Just a statement of fact.

Someone wrote about being disappointed by their first Nathan's hot dog recently. They said the build up was so great that perhaps they expected too much. It can happen.

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Thank god nobody's brought up MarkJoseph as a paragon of steak-cooking virtue. Thank god nobody's mentioned it at all. What a horrible place.

Nina -- how about simple burgers -- or not so simple -- with a pat of herb butter in the middle to make up for the extreme leanness? Unless you like your burgers black-and-blue, as I do, in which case the butter won't melt. But you could always mix in a little heavy cream instead. Now that you mention it -- gonna have to get me some bison at the Greenmarket. Yum!

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