NYC is home to a bevy of powerhouse steakhouses. Some of my favorites include Smith & Wollensky (which I'm happy to say has an outpost in Philly at Rittenhouse Square by Lacroix!), BLT Steak, and Porterhouse NY. But ask any NYer where to go for your first true NY steak experience? Most will say Peter Luger.
The one Michelin star location is at the original outpost in Brooklyn and was first opened in 1887. About a century later, a location in Great Neck, NY was opened as well. As with many mainstay restaurants, you've got the requisite celebrity photographs decorating the main entrance.
On a Friday night, we arrived for our reservation with a few minutes to spare. However, it took approximately 45 minutes to get us seated. The attitude of the host and captain is one of nonchalance, you're essentially at the mercy of their time table with nary an apology. Think upturned noise and a bunch of sniffing.
FYI - it's all cash here, which is pretty ridiculous considering the fact that we're talking about $50pp steaks. They do take their own 'specialty' Peter Luger credit card though.
The atmosphere is that of a German tavern, with high wood beams and
a variety of tapestries adorning the walls.
The bread came served cold - a decent variety which includes onion rolls, sesame crackers, and a salty rye mini-baguette.
Peter Luger Sauce
The specialty sauce here is actually pretty good and faintly reminiscent of Bobby Flay's steak sauce. A foundation similar to cocktail sauce, it's fairly sweet with the occasional note of horseradish.
Extra Thick Sizzling Bacon ($3.95)
Now this is where Peter Luger starts to redeem itself. If you ever come to Peter Luger, you need to get at least one slab of their delicious bacon. Sure it's a bit fatty, but trust me - it's worth it. It has an almost cured taste - savory, yet sweet.
Sliced Tomatoes with Luger's Sauce for 2 ($14.95)
While I realize a tomato and onion salad is a staple of most steakhouses, I can never get over the bite of a raw onion - it simply ruins the rest of the meal for me with the bitter gag-worthy aftertaste. So, we went with the tomatoes, which were incredibly ripe and delicious with the Peter Luger sauce. But the price? Really? Apparently one beefsteak tomato is $15. 500% markup anyone? These must have been organically grown, picked that morning, and imported straight from Germany.
But that's OK. Because we're here for steak. And do you now how you know the steak is coming? Your waiter will stop by your table and drop off a plate, turned upside down.
Porterhouse Steak for 2 ($95.50)
USDA Prime, dry-aged
Why do they do that? So they can rest the actual plate holding your porterhouse on top of it. That way, the deliciousness (read: fat and butter) can all pool at the bottom half of the plate, ready to be spooned on to your pre-sliced cuts of beef. The steak here is dry aged for 21 days and is delicious.
Ordered medium-rare, the steak here isn't seasoned much, but that's OK because it allows the quality of the beef to shine. The filet is certainly more tender, while the sirloin has that expected intense beef flavor. The sizzle of the plate and the table-side service is what it's about here.
Filet of Sole ($25.95)
My mom isn't a big red meat eater so had the filet of sole which was decent for a steakhouse. The sole was meaty and toothsome. Alone though, it was a bit bland. Definitely needed a spritz of lemon to brighten up the flavors.
German Fried Potatoes for 2 ($12.95)
For a side, we got the German potatoes which are essentially crispy hashed browns. Perfect to sop up some of that 'deliciousness' from the porterhouse plate or the Luger steak sauce.
And with the plop of the chocolate coins, dinner ends. The meal itself was pretty good and with the exception of the price point of the tomatoes, there are no qualms in terms of quality being proportionate with price. However, the service was equally as nonchalant as the front of the house. I can attest that this is pretty much the case at the Michelin-starred Brooklyn location as well. This is unfortunate considering the quality of the food can be matched at a bevy of other NY steakhouses and at the latter, the service is often up to par, if not exemplary. That's probably why I only choose to go to Peter Luger when a friend has never been. But if I'm going to have a steak for myself, I'll choose to go elsewhere.