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Luger's - 6/25/07 (Shortage of Prime Beef) [moved from Manhattan board]

Vinoguy Jun 27, 2007 02:09 PM

Had dinner at Luger's with high school friends in from out of town (LA/Boston). Making the pilgrimage with best friends = priceless.

One interesting observations before meal report:

Read about the scarcity of prime beef recently and heard Luger's was limiting reservations. What I overheard while waiting at bar on Mon was interesting -- for tables that have an actual reservation, they will serve the entire menu. For those walk ins who don't have a ressie, they WON'T serve the porterhouse -- they were offering some other cut of steak. Interesting...

The meal was solid as always:

Bacon: excellent (well crisped and excellent flavor)
Shrimp cocktail: better than usual...fresh and enormous
Steak: Outrageously good. The steak for 2 medium rare was perfect; the medium came a little overcooked (thankfully I was in the MR camp...).
Potatoes and Spinach: Check.
Didn't go french fries this time, but IMHO, the most underrated side dish they offer -- crazy good.
Clos du Val Cab - fine, nothing special
Desserts: Strudel and Key Lime, mit schlag (of course).

When the four of us go, we always play a game entitled, "You go in talking about the steak and leave talking about the ______".

This go round, we all left talking about the strudel. It was seriously killer.

Oh - and at 6pm, the place was PACKED. On a Monday night...

  1. f
    fatcat57 Jun 29, 2007 01:56 PM

    Peter Luger actually sent letters dated June 4, 2007out to customers with credit card accounts.The letter states:
    Dear Customers,
    As you are probably aware, we are in the midst of a major shortage of USDA beef. High corn prices( caused by huge demands for corn derived ethanol) have led many cattle growers not to feed corn to their cattle. As a result the percentage of cattle receiving the USDA Prime grade has dropped from about 4% to 1/2% of the total.
    In order to maintain our high quality standards, we have chosen to reduce our sales by cutting our hours and reservations. We have also introduced a USDA Prime Rib Steak which is huge(over 2 lbs)delicious and very reasonably priced at only $38.95. Customers who tried it were very, very pleased. In addition, our Brooklyn restaurant now offers the same great Lobsters served in Great Neck. Our lamb chops and roast beef are available, as always.
    We regret the inconvience caused by the current situation and thank you for your continued loyal support.
    Very truly yours,
    Peter Lugar Steak Houses
    P.S. We recommend you make reservations in advance during this shortage.

    This is the letter-word for word. My parents went without a reservation 2 weeks ago and were able to order the porterhouse. They do know the waiters there and do have a Peter Luger credit card.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fatcat57
      squid kun Jun 30, 2007 01:49 AM

      Thanks for sharing this. Looks like they're rationing the porterhouse without coming out and saying so, because they want to continue to accommodate regulars, with or without reservations.

      So instead of spelling out the de facto policy, they change the subject, talking up the prime rib steak, the lobster, the lamb chops, the roast beef. But for non-regulars, the coded take-home message seems to be in the P.S.

      1. re: fatcat57
        m
        micki Jun 30, 2007 04:42 AM

        That's funny. I've had a Peter Luger credit card for years and never received that letter.

        1. re: fatcat57
          s
          steakrules85 Jul 8, 2007 06:05 PM

          Since when does PL have Roast beef? Also why don't they just offer their burger all day as well? I know usually they only offer it for lunch but I was actually in there on a Sunday night a month ago and they were serving burgers for dinner. Hmmm maybe they changed this as well???? Who knos.........

        2. m
          moymoy Jun 28, 2007 07:28 AM

          Little off tangent but...
          How long is the reservation wait nowadays?
          I grew up in Williamsburg and never been to Luger's.

          1. l
            Larry Brooks Jun 27, 2007 04:14 PM

            Believe it or not, that behavior is actually -illegal- the same way that it is illegal for a restaurant not to post their menu on a window or door.

            Also, I asked a guy who is pretty close to the family there, he said no way, just not true.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Larry Brooks
              p
              paulinalake Jun 28, 2007 01:30 AM

              It is absolutely, one hundred percent true. It is exactly as the original poster stated. Luger's will offer the Porterhouse ONLY to customers with reservations. For walk-in customers it is either the Ribeye or something that Luger's doesn't do all that well: EVERYTYHING ELSE. I don't know about the legality of the issue, but I do know that the ribeye is damned good.

              Yeah, I was one of those walk-ins recently. When pressed, the manager informed me that it has been going on for months. I just assumed the suckers who go to Lugers for the overpriced mediocrity just didn't care, and I am inclined to think I'm partly right. Luger's beef is very good, in my opinion, but no better and often inferior to many other luxury steakhouses. The problem with Peter Luger is that there is not much else there, assuming of course that you're not taken in by the large slice of bacon served with the absurdly thick raw spanish onion, the perrenially under-ripe gigantic tomato and garnished with their cloying steaksauce. Luger's is as much a restaurant as it is a theme park and although it's true we can all use a little water-world once in a while, one should call an ace an ace.

              As to the ribeye. Connoisseurs argue as to the superiority of the cut over the sirloin and there is no right answer; that's what makes a horserace. Luger's fans, of course, are inclined to the loin, not so for me. The ribeye is certainly fattier and unquestionably more marbled than the sirloin and as such has a flabbier texture. The sirloin is a close second in terms of marbling and if you prefer a firmer texture and are put off by the virtually inedible fat that runs through the eye of the rib, there is certainly an argument for the sirloin (this is essentially what we're talking about when we talk about porterhouse-- consisting of the large chunk of sirloin or strip steak, the bone and the leanest of all cuts, the tenderloin).

              Luger's does tell you, when you arrive without a reservation, that you will not be dining on porterhouse. And their site does mention the beef shortage, but it is not in the context of their menu choices and you have to dig a little. In any event, I had gone to Luger's for a burger and a whiskey and when told of the beef shortage was piqued by the rib. It was the best piece of meat I've had at Luger's in years.

              1. re: paulinalake
                k
                KNC Jun 28, 2007 03:44 AM

                Very true, friend went for lunch Mon no res. could not order the porterhouse, was somewhat disappointed with the rib eye, and of course with the service.

                1. re: KNC
                  Huffy Jun 28, 2007 06:34 AM

                  it maybe unfair, but i don't think its illegal. Look at this way: when you make a reservation, you are also reserving your right to the porterhouse.

                2. re: paulinalake
                  g
                  Geo8rge Jun 28, 2007 01:27 PM

                  "was somewhat disappointed " - If you went out of your way you should tell the waiter you are disappointed. At minimum it should be posted on the door.

                  If the waiter cannot fix the problem or make amends do not leave a tip and explain it to them. A waiter is a sales person, ordering a signature dish is not unreasonable. The waiter can and should bring the problem up with management, which will most likely make up the difference.

                  1. re: Geo8rge
                    hatless Jun 28, 2007 01:53 PM

                    The interesting thing about this thread, which seems to be a bunch of retribution fantasies centered around some recent rationing of the porterhouse, is that nobody in this entire thread has actually been denied a porterhouse by surprise after being seated and served drinks.

                    Given that, I wonder: If a restaurant doesn't have enough of a given dish, why is it okay to punish the waiter? Are they the ones who decide how much beef to buy from the suppliers, or is it because they maintain the website?

                    1. re: Geo8rge
                      m
                      mangomama Jun 30, 2007 08:03 PM

                      I was a walk-in 2 weeks ago. I'd never been there before, happened to be passing by (rare for me) and, on a whim, went in. There is NO way that the waiter should be faulted, as one is told the moment you set foot in the place that, sorry, due to a shortage, the porterhouse is only available to those with reservations. In other words, you are made aware of this policy before you even SEE a waiter--or enter the dining room to sit down, for that matter.

                      Geo8rge's fixation on denying waiters their tips (2 posts to this effect) is dispiriting AND misinformed. I certainly wouldn't want to be his server!

                      As for the food, I thought the ribeye was pretty delicious, but I'm not the most knowing steak connosieur. I do feel more confident about my judgement regarding tomatoes, and sadly, I found the tomato and onion salad to be underwhelming. If you're gonna give me an unadorned tomato, buy it from the Greenmarket in August, please!

                3. g
                  Geo8rge Jun 27, 2007 03:05 PM

                  I checked their site and saw no mention. It would be very rude, even unprofessional, if they did that without posting it on their site. So I will assume it is a rumour. I for one would be furious if traveled a great distance and could not get their signature dish. The part about reservations also seems fishy, my guess is the walk in are more likely to be repeat customers.

                  Unless you are local, No Porterhouse, No way. I would walk out, pay for anything I bought, no tip.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Geo8rge
                    k
                    KNC Jun 28, 2007 07:08 AM

                    If one chooses to go to an establishment that their policy is to not give a damn with waiters that don’t give a damn, for this kinda money, than everything is legit and fair. You want something better go elsewhere

                    1. re: KNC
                      l
                      Larry Brooks Jun 28, 2007 08:35 AM

                      "something better"?

                      Where in the 5 boroughs can you get a better steak?

                      1. re: Larry Brooks
                        g
                        grierson Jun 28, 2007 11:11 AM

                        Let's see, here's a few places that can hold their own when it comes to quality prime meat. As an added bonus, you might actually get what you came for:

                        Porter House New York
                        Craft Steak
                        Wolfgang's
                        BLT Prime
                        Keene's Chophouse

                        And, novel concept though it is, they actually have other things on their menu worth ordering, unlike Luger's.

                        1. re: grierson
                          k
                          KNC Jun 28, 2007 02:15 PM

                          grierson, i agree 200%!

                          larry you might find more here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/413946

                          1. re: grierson
                            funkjester Jun 28, 2007 02:42 PM

                            Sparks is also very, very good.

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