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Peter Lugers - 60th Birthday questions

I am planning a 60th birthday celebration for my father who lives and dies by a fantastic steak. We have been to some of the steakhouses in NY, Sparks, Keens, Palm, S&W. We have always wanted to take him to Peter Lugers but never got around to it. We are doing the whole limo thing and were going to make a night of it. So my questions are these:

- I know that PL is not a "fancy" spot, but is it festive? We are looking for a place we can enjoy each others company, don't need it to be stuffy, just fun and boisterous and I want it to feel special.
- There are 8 of us, is there a location in the restaurant that I should request when making the reservation?
- Has the quality really gone down, will we be dissappointed?
- We were thinking of stopping either before or after for a drink, possibly the Brandy Library in Manhattan. Anyplace in Brooklyn I should consider?
- Any other suggestions for making the night one that he will remember?

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  1. Luger's is definitely fun and boisterous. The fun will be greatly enhanced if you manage to ignore the ultra-rude wiatstaff.

    1. as to whether luger's is festive, i would have to say no. not only is it not fancy, but it has zero to offer in terms of atmosphere. you can be as loud as you want, but the place itself will not invoke any sort of "fun" to your celebration. when i went there, we were a party of 8 and we ordered 2 porterhouse steaks that were supposed to serve 4 each. i was not impressed at all- the steak was flavorless. also, i am not sure how much this matters to you, but i think their appetizers/desserts are awful. on the other hand, i've heard raves from others. the steak is supposed to be center stage, but unfortunately, i think it's hit or miss.

      is luger's a must for you? if not, maybe you could try one of the new steak places in the city? i have heard great things about Quality Meats.

      1 Reply
      1. re: giftergirl

        I can't disagree with this opinion more, re: atmosphere. Luger's is chock full o' atmosphere, it's just not the "dimly lit, soft jazz, attractive waitstaff" vibe some might look for. It's got a classic New York feel that I love.

        (I also disagree with the assessment of the food quality, but that's another post...)

      2. I think Luger's is perfect for a party -- I've had several there. There's an upstairs party room, but eight people will easily fit into one of the downstairs rooms, which I think would be more fun. I've never noticed the waitstaff being rude, but I guess it happens. I like the Luger's atmosphere, and the last time I had the steak, it was still great. Lately I've been going at lunchtime for the awesome burgers, so I don't know if the steak has fallen off.

        Irrelevant to the topic, but here's a picture of a beautiful, rare, Luger cheese burger:

        1. I was underimpressed with Luger's the last time we were there. They actually OVERCOOKED my steak. We have vowed never to make the trip to Brooklyn again. I know this is a little bit of heresy, but we like Del Frisco's in Manhattan. It is a nice place with tablecloths & linen napkins, good atmosphere, delicious ribeye steaks and great sides. Nice for a birthday dinner. Just don't sit near the bar as it can get crowdedand noisy.

          2 Replies
          1. re: meb903

            Ive only been to Lugers once but it is a different kind of fun - a classic atmosphere not glitzy but real. I know people who routinely celebrate birthdays there and I simply would not hesitate in giving it a try.

            1. re: jen kalb

              I agree with Jen. It's basically an old german beer hall and it has it's own atmosphere. You can get a little loud and boisterous and nobody will look at you strange. My family has celebrated several birthdays there and we've enjoyed each one.

              I know my Dad would appreciate a meal at PL over another steak house any day.

              Make sure you order the bacon!

          2. Luger's has a beer hall/ sawdust on the floor kind of feel that I think is very comfortable in a casual sort of way. Note for a party of 8 remember to bring a lot of cash as they don't take charge cards (except their own).

            As to you other question, I'd normally suggest the River Café for drinks. A wonderful view and excellent drinks. But seating 8 together at the bar might be difficult.

            1. I'll help with the drinks part of your question. Giando's is about 3 blocks from Luger's, right on the water, and has a long bar with panoramic views of the East River from lower Manhattan to the 59th St. bridge. Given it's location, it's the best choice by far.

              Check out the photos on the website.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Bob Martinez

                I would have to take issue with Giando. My wife and I live in Williamsburg, and we do not fall into the hipster-dufus, tatoo head-to-toe crowd, and we were made to feel very uncomfortable when we went there just to enjoy a cocktail and the view. One word is apt: fugedabout'. Typical old school mafioso joint, dripping with bad taste (has not been redcorated since 1971), and a rude staff. Unless you are drinking XO or Johnny Blue, don't expect anyone to role out the red carpet. We were ignored, and asked to move to another seat at the bar when a crowd from NJ arrived. Luger? Great for burgers, which are sublime. The steaks have slipped, and we have been eating them for years. Keen's is by far the best.

                1. re: noodles

                  I would have to take issue with noodles.
                  The place was REBUILT in the early 90's, so I guess while you're technically correct that it hasn't been *redecorated* since 1971, you are essentially blowing smoke.

                  I rather think of the waitstaff not as rude but as willing to leave you alone. Some people (perhaps rightly) don't like that. I actually prefer to be left alone with my wife until I call you over. There's really only so much attention you need from a restaurant's waitstaff, after all.

                  I understand, though, that some folks like to be fawned over.

                  You won't get that at Giando.

                  Dripping with bad taste must mean that anything moderately ornate (as Giando is) is in bad taste. I disagree.

                  I would agree with you if you had made the point that they could stand to renovate/redecorate. But you didn't make that point, I did. :-)

                  PS - The view is killer at sunset/twilight. I would do drinks there in a heartbeat and then go to Lugers (2 blocks or so up Broadway).

              2. PETER LUGER is a very convivial place. It is an historic interior, original 19th c. Steakhouse, and has a lot of charm.I am sure your Dad will be thrilled with the great food.

                We have always found the service to be excellent, the waiters very helpful. I have come to the conclusion that 90% of complaints about service in top restaurants come from the bad attitude of customers, who don't know how to treat service personnel. They are either rude and bossy, ordering people around and treating them badly, or overly familiar and chummy. These are professional waiters and they know their business.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Fleur

                  They will try to sell you lots of sides as well as the very skippable shrimp cocktail, so just be firm about what you want, they will respect that. Make sure one of the sides is the creamed spinach. I've gotta get that bacon next time! And definitely get the hot fudge sundae. Gruff but perfectly fine service.

                  1. re: Fleur

                    Count me in the 10%, then. Don't try to argue that "professional waiters" would never be curt or unpleasant to a customer. Plenty of places thrive on having a reputation for surly waitstaff.

                  2. I don't get some of the negative comments. I've been going to Brooklyn Luger's two or three times a year for 40 years and I've never had a rude waiter. Some are quite nice, most are competent and professional. Secondly, unlike most other New York steak houses, especially the various Palms and Wolfgang's, I've never had a waiter "push" sides. Yes, they say "do you want creamed spinach", but unlike the other places they don't try to get you to order more portions of the sides than you need. To me, the beauty of the place is its consistency. As to festive, people have described it well, it's not pretty, they do nothing to enhance the mood, but it tends to get large parties and, as a result, it's quite a convivial place.

                    1. Folks who claim Peter Luger's is overrated are trying to compare it to reviews that can be a bit over the top. Whether the steak is head and shoulders the "best," or merely "one of the best" doesn't really bear on the experience. Those who suggest it's not a fantastic piece of meat are either a contrarian or a vegetarian.

                      Order the porterhouse for two for every two attendees, because you get more filet that way. And -- in addition to the bacon, which is an appetizer must -- they also have a lamb poppers appetizer that's not on the menu. Trust me: Ask for it.

                      As for the decor, it's certainly not upscale, but it's classy in that old New York sort of way. And it's perfect for a large group. But make sure you make your reservation sooner rather than later.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Thissteaks4you

                        I agree! What are Lamb Poppers? Sounds really interesting.

                        I have never had a waiter try to push anything extra. As a matter of fact, they often discourage you if you order too much.

                        They get a huge number of repeats and have a loyal faithful following that go back time and time again.

                        Your hint about reservations is a good one. There is often a two month wait for tables.

                        1. re: Thissteaks4you

                          Wow lamb poppers!!! I am so excited I want to go back already and I was just there two weeks ago. You are right about porterhouse for 2 for every 2 people in the party.

                          Our waiter did suggest shrimp cocktail which we didn't get.

                          My next visit I will get 4 people together and order:
                          porterhouse for 2 x 2
                          creamed spinach
                          lamb poppers
                          bottle cabernet
                          sundaes for dessert

                          1. re: kenito799

                            Shrimp cocktail is last great one in NYC.
                            You forgot the tomato and onion salad..better make that six

                          2. re: Thissteaks4you

                            i guess since i don't think it's a fantastic piece of meat, i must be a "contrarian," as i'm not a vegetarian. as is clear on this thread, there can be differing opinions as to luger's consistency.

                            as for the "classy decor"- i have seen them hose the restaurant down at the end of an evening. very classy.

                          3. the tomato & onion "salad" is sliced giant tomatoes & onions. they are accompanied by luger's steak sauce which is on the table. if you like sliced tomatoes & onion w/steak sauce, go for it.

                            and they love to tout the "schlag." of course i had no idea what it was and it ends up being whipped cream. whoop-di-do.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: giftergirl

                              Yes, schlag is over-whipped cream, on its way to becoming butter. After that steak normal whipped cream would be too light. The schlag-laden sundae was the best I have ever had. Don't knock it till you have tried it!

                              Therefore I won't knock the T&O salad but yeah, I can do tomatoes and onions anywhere, and putting a ketchup-based sauce on tomatoes seems kind of absurd to me. The sauce tastes good but I would feel like i was committing a crime if I put any of it on that steak.

                              Regarding consistency of prep, haven't been there enough to get an "off" piece of steak but I am sure it can happen...but most steak lovers will say that inconsistency is the rule in steakhouses and the top places like Luger's keep it to a minimum.

                            2. Schlag is German for Whipped Heavy Cream. In Germany and Austria they serve it on most desserts.It is fresh, creamy and delicious at PETER LUGER.

                              The Tomato and Onion Salad is a great way to start your meal. Not to be forgotten, their Slab Bacon Appetizer. Order one slice per person.

                              1. I have been to PL many times usually on business and therefore expenses which is a good thing. Im sure PL was amazing once and there was a reason for the hype surrounding it. However, now there are so many great steak houses in NYC I feel there is little reason to head to Brooklyn anymore.

                                I think that a few others are feeling the same as on my last outing a few weeks ago I called the same day for a reservation for 4 people and got in at the time I wanted, something that would have been unheard of a few years ago. After I asked the waiter he said things have slowed down, mainly due to competition.

                                After saying that, the steak is good, the creamed spinach excellent and the shlagg sublime. It is certainly one of those places you need to eat at at least once.

                                The service is always abrubt (they are clearly trying to turn tables) although I wouldnt say rude, charming and quircky perhaps?

                                The same chipped wine glasses are used even if you order a bottle of cakebread is dissapointing and the whole cash only thing is a pain.

                                1. Wow. Thanks for the suggestions and comments. I really appreciate the feedback and will sure to post afterwards.

                                  1. I've always found the service at Luger's to be brusquely efficient, but far from rude. Quite appropriate in an NYC setting, and actually not at all unlike the kind of service one often gets in Germany.

                                    Everyone should remember this simple fact about Peter Luger's: the meat is the thing, and basically the whole thing. Anyone going to Luger's for anything other than a very fine sliced porterhouse steak, including expecting atmosphere, chatty waitstaff and fancy sides, is going to the wrong restaurant. One other thing: many people have become so used to the flavor and texture of the beef that's sold almost everywhere now that the taste and texture of a well-aged piece of prime beef (including its inconsistencies) may be strange, and perhaps even unpleasant, to them. If they go to Luger's they also are probably in the wrong restaurant.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Woodside Al

                                      To the original poster: if your dad, as you say, really knows his steaks, then he will appreciate PL. Unfortunately, "Woodside Al" is correct about the taste and texture... you should think about that before going. PL is simply the best steak in NYC and all you have to do is ask the buyers for the other places if they'd trade places with PL's buyers when selecting their meat: PL gets the best material to work with and maximizes it.

                                      If you go, "kenito799" has the menu down pat. Always "porterhouse for 2" x half the # in your party (never steak for 3 or 4). However, also get some potatoes to sop up juices, remembering that the sides are weak supporting cast members. Feel free to substitute beer, or better yet bourbon, for wine. If you care about wine, ask to bring your own (I have no idea whether they charge corkage, how much or if they'd laugh when you ask).

                                      They are not rude, and they can be enlisted if they like you. If you're sensitive folk or your family likes a reserved proper service type of place, watch out. This is a high price German beer hall approach with great meat. And, as "bobjbkln" said, THEY DONT TAKE CREDIT CARDS... bring cash.

                                      One more thing. Bob Martinez is correct about Giando's. I didnt believe him either, but he took us there for drinks and, although everyone is correct about what it is, it was very comfortable for drinks and the view was worth all else. Overpriced wine, good liquor. Maybe tough for 8 at the bar but worth a try given the location (& parking). Dressler has a nice bar too, but you may want to do the drinks in Manhattan.

                                      Ok... now here's the question: would you all be more comfortable in their L.I. branch? It loses the German beer hall color but its absolutely the same meat. I greatly prefer W'burg, but dad may be better off in a place that's more like the other steak houses. I've done this "LI branch" thing with Il Mulino and had a great time. Just saying.