As one of the longest-running steakhouses in New York City, Peter Luger (established in 1887) has come to be considered one of, if not the best steakhouses in all the 5 boroughs. Located at 178 Broadway in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Peter Luger’s (which was originally named Carl Luger’s Café, after owner Peter Luger’s nephew, who served as head chef) is more often than not, found sitting atop the list of “Best Steaks in NY”. As a self-proclaimed lover of meat, I knew that there would be no way that I could complete my stay in NYC without testing these claims for myself.
There are very few restaurants with equal pedigree and spoken of with the same reverence as Peter Luger, and I will admit that this may have unfairly affected my expectations. So, did their legendary porterhouse actually live up to the hype?
Unfortunately, the answer is NO. The Porterhouse at Peter Luger is NOT the be all and end all of steaks.
But before you go and think that I’m knocking them in any way, let me further explain. Just because the steak did not live up to the hype, it in no way implies that the mouth-watering porterhouse was anything less than great. Seriously, just looking over the pics I took that day elicits a strong Pavlovian response. Upon taking my first bite, it was quite obvious that the steak laid out before me was cared for in a time-consuming, meticulous manner… common amongst most high-end dining establishments.
Peter Luger’s is reportedly extremely careful in regards to selecting only the finest cuts of meat, and this attention to detail carries over into their in-house dry-aging process (which lasts approximately 28 days). For those unaware, the dry-aging process helps concentrate the flavor, as a certain mold forms over the steak, and in turn, causes the tough connective tissue to break down. This intricate process results in an extremely tender steak, devoid of the chewiness you occasionally find in cheaper steaks.
Porterhouse Steak (medium rare) with Luger’s Special German Fried Potatoes and Creamed Spinach
If I so readily acknowledge the exceptional quality of the steak, what is it that keeps it from claiming the top spot on my list? I can easily overlook the fact that the sides weren’t very impressive (the spinach and potatoes lacked any memorable flavor, and their house steaksauce was a bit too sweet for my liking). But I wasn’t here for the sides, so that didn’t really affect my overall decision. What it really came down to was the intangible factor. In a City with so many world-class chefs, for any food to truly be regarded as ‘the best’ of any particular category, I think it’s mandatory that the food should produce that SWEET JESUS moment. On this night, this was simply not the case.
What is the Sweet Jesus moment you ask?
It generally occurs right after the first bite, and regardless of the stimulating conversation being had, or any external stimulus that has your attention, the flavors of the food item sitting on your tongue sends a jackhammer of sensory pleasure straight to your brain… ‘causing you to immediately freeze, regardless of whatever you are doing, in order to appreciate the chemical foreplay going on in your mouth. This is generally followed by a “SWEET JESUS, this is freakin’ amaaaaaaaaaaaazing!!” Then after another pause, synapses begin to fire correctly and the next thought becomes “What the heck were we taking about?” While this may sound utterly ridiculous, I know most of you foodies know exactly what I’m talking about! 🙂
While I didn’t exactly have the steak experience I was hoping for, let me tell you about the one item that brought me very close to having that elusive Sweet Jesus moment…
Though this strip of meat might look somewhat lonely on the plate, to leave Luger’s without having ordered the Sizzling Bacon will mean that you will have missed, in my opinion, easily the best item on their menu. Just the perfect proportions of saltiness, fat, char and meat in each bite… this little slice of porkly-heaven alone, is the one item that would get me to trek an hour on the train, from the Bronx to Brooklyn, for another bite.
Although a very solid meal, I know the true champ of NY steaks must still be out there. If you feel that you know the steakhouse as well as the specific cut that will give me the brain-melting steak experience that I’m looking for, please leave your recommendation below. Thanks!
*P.S. The bones that I took home from our meal that night became the base for a pretty tasty bowl of Phở the next day. Highly recommend that try it out as well! 🙂
Overall Score: 4/5
For more info on Peter Luger:
Peter Luger, Inc.
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11211