db Bistro Moderne (THE burger) & Peter Luger's (long)
- TR Aug 17, 2002 11:59 AM
Maybe I shouldn't compare these two (I didn't have a burger at Luger's and it's not that type of burger anyway.) But I did go to both on the same day and made it my 'beef' day. So let's say I'm comparing the beef, in general.
Even though I am NOT a big beef enthusiast, especially during the warmer months, I do enjoy it.
We had a reservation at db at 2pm, but I had to change that to noon, which later you'll discover was a good idea. The room is way too modern and was too uptown lunch crowd for my taste during my relaxing and old NY stay, but that didn't dissuade me. Upon seating we were given a basket containing the olive bread, which I immediately fell in love with. I didn't need to read the menu, since we knew we were there for THAT burger. My dining partner struggled with it however. As an app and since I didn't look at the menu, have no idea if it was on it, but suspect it was, we both had what I suggested a light green salad (mixed green w/ Crudites & a lemon vinaigrette) -- we also ordered, as suggested with the burger, a glass of a Daniel red. The salad was lovely, but I wasn't there for all of that.
Must also tell you as per burger meat, if I see red, and sometimes pink in it, I don't do well. But as recommended by Daniel Boulud himself, we ordered our burgers medium rare.
As with midtown lunch service, service was very efficient, timely and very knowledgeable here, but we weren't rushed.
The burger came as promised - medium rare, filled with braised short bibs, black truffles and foie gras. There was less foie gras than I anticipated but that didn't matter or detract from the sweetness or melt in your mouth texture of this meal. It was absolutely incredible, a burger like no other. It's not a burger. Truly a meal, that had me satisfied and savoring it until my 9:45 at Luger's. If it were not for the parmesan bun, this one would go down without one chew -- ooooooooh those braised short ribs and a hint of truffles - not overpowering at all. I thought to stay for dinner and order short ribs on their own, if available. The prime used is one I've never had the pleasure of tasting before -- not one drop of grease on that plate, tender, tasty and I can't believe I'm discussing chopped/gound sirlion like this, but there it is.
I used a fork and knife to eat it, while my partner opted to pick it up and do the common burger thing. I succeeded in not messing up my white blouse this way, but come to think of it, nothing dripped out of his. I didn't succeed so well when it came to the Clafoutis Tout Chocolat with choc sorbet and vanilla ice cream though, of which some choc dripped onto the edge of the table and I leaned in to closely - causing me to walk out with my umbrella strapped to the left side of my chest. This to me was the same as all the other attempts to surpass Jean Georges warm chocolate cake, and IMO, fail, at least to myself. Boulud's texture was off and it was too sweet for my taste. But then again, maybe nothing would please after the burger. I forgot about my glass of wine, btw. I ended up drinking more than half of it AFTER finishing the main.
Most importantly to me, this burger did not make me feel full/bloated/stuffed, but yet it was so satisfying that I was not starving for a dinner meal at 9:45, when we got to Peter Luger's.
So while it's a pricey burger, it could hold you over for the day.
As per Luger's. First off, I am a filet mignon person. Whether or not that means I'm a beef sissy, I don't know, nor care really. But of course I was going to order the porterhouse for two at Luger's. With me was a steak man. So you steak lovers have your side represented there.
After hearing much ado about the gruff service at Luger's, I was prepared for a beer drinking, rough, steak house, where we'd have to wait probably a while after our reservation time. While it was brightly lit and beer drinking for sure was and had gone on -- the type of noise alone told me so -- the service was not in the least bit gruff at all. Upon entering, I immediately approached the captain (? no idea what he is called in a steakhouse) with our reservation and seeing the bar area full, inquired if we were last. He walked close to me, even touched my arm and smiled, telling me we have the last reservation but in no way were we the last. After my partner ordered a beer at the bar, myself nothing (don't like beer) and didn't see much wine around, we were seating within a couple of minutes..... not even long enough for him to take more than a couple of sips of his beer.
The waiter assumed we had been there before and didn't give us a menu. After informing him it was at least my first visit, I requested a menu to view the sides. The sides we ordered consisted of creamed spinach, which was yummy, and German potatoes, which were nothing special at all, and bland.
On to the porterhouse (for two), cooked medium rare: It was juicy and I didn't add the sauce, but did continue to spoon over its juices with any extra I served in my plate. I found the juices too salty and filled with too much grease rather than real juice (blood). Something which may cause a debate, but I found the porterhouse to have less taste than my usual tenderloin or filet mignon. On the other hand, my dining partner asked me to try to find more meat on the bone for him, while he used the rest room. He clearly wanted more and loved it, as he always does. I guess you need to be a real meat eater and not mind chewing a bit too much to delve into Luger's porterhouse.
As for the two, I'd choose the db burger as a beef meal over Luger's porterhouse any day, and I'd choose, not due to the service, but the beef and ambiance, a different steakhouse next time.
For all those dying to try the burger and don't especially due to the cost, I suggest you do try it and consider it your meal for the entire day, after which, if food is needed, a light salad will suffice. To this day, not only have I considered making it myself, which I have since decided against (look at the recipe -- it is worth the price), but I have savored it and not a day passes that I have not looked forward to my return. I have no desire, yet, to try anything else on that menu, which I finally did look at.
Btw, I think someone else (read in New York or the New Yorker) is also now making a burger stuff with braised short ribs. Might be something to check out. But if the sirlion isn't Boulud's or close to it, you can forget it.
PS: I forgot the pommes frites and sauces served with the burger. I wanted to try the burger in it's true form and did not add a bit of any sauce, although my partner had and could not decide which he liked best. When it came down to it, he said he preferred it without adding anything. As for the frites -- well they were okay -- nothing I haven't had quality wise elsewhere - Balthazar for example. If you are are frites person, these will more than please you, however.
You've done it! You've convinced me that I have to try the DB Burger on my next trip to the city. I've read about it in many places (including Wm Grimes so-so review of it) but, until now, I've never been able to get past the concept of paying that much (what, $28?) for a burger. (And, like you, I'm not a big beef lover, just yearn for a good steak or burger on occasion: can't believe you were able to do the burger and Luger's in the same day!) But you're right -- if it knocks out the hunger pangs for the better part of a day, and tastes so wonderful in the process, then it's worth it. I'm already looking forward to it. Terrific post. Thanks!
re: Gene Z
I'm glad but do believe taste in food is subjective. So you may not enjoy it as much as I, but I hope you do. I never read Grimes report and tend to shy away from reading too many reviews, because I prefer to try without prejudice -- at least at first.
As for going to both on the same day -- I felt I should get the 'beef day' over with, because quite frankly, apart from all the talk of that burger, I wasn't looking too forward to eating beef. It had to be close to 100F that day.
Yes, I think it was $28 or $29, but it's not really a burger.