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Why is it so popular to bash Peter Luger's?

Listen, I know we all have our preferences, our opinions, and differences in what we like, but when it comes down to it, where is there a better steak?

If you want your butt kissed, Smith & Wollensky's is your place. Honestly, their steak is good, but not great. They have the best service of any place I've ever been to, and their seafood courses are outstanding. I'd even put their ribs up against most BBQ joints, but the Filet, Strip, and Porterhouse aren't even top 5 in my opinion.

Morton's is great. Great service, great atmosphere (although the constant Frank Sinatra kills me), and great food. The steaks are delicious. I was actually there last night and had a wonderful porterhouse. The entire meal was outstanding. Still not in the same ballpark as Luger's.

Surprisingly, Jake's in Riverdale tops all of them. Now granted I was there with an employee so the service was impeccable, and the sides were probably a little bloated. But my porterhouse (done Jake's style w/frizzled onions and blue cheese) was off the charts. Still not Luger's.

Peter Luger's wont wow you with ambience, but I went out for steak!, wont wow you with service, but I want steak, not sprigs of some unknown green on my plate served by a guy named Pierre, it may even be too loud. Who cares, when I am chewing I can't hear much anyway. Peter Luger's gives you dirty looks if you want anything more than medium, they know if you managed to get a seat, you know what you want, and they don't care if yuo don't have cash, go get some. It's all about the steak at Luger's. And it is the most succulent, most tasty, and most satisfying steak you'll ever have. Don't go there and order a burger and a side salad. Order a porterhouse for two, order creamed spinach and the to-die-for slab bacon. Then for dessert, may I suggest just getting anything and covering it wirh Schlag. Hell one time, I had McCallen's 30 and a spoon. It was perfect!

It's about the steak!

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  1. Everyone always wants to profess "secret knowledge" that defies conventional wisdom, or to knock the top dog. Luger's is considered tops because it just plain is tops, and yes I've had great steaks in other places and am NOT partial to Luger's because I went there as a kid or some other dumb reason.

    4 Replies
    1. re: addictedtolunch

      Nice post, jhopp217. I've been to both Lugers and love the sight of the Brooklyn Bridge, so I prefer that one. Of course the waiters (now this is ONE case where they are waiters and not servers, right?) look down their noses at female patrons, that's just the way it is. And of course you better not order a salad.

      But the food, oh the food. The slab bacon? That's something I never had there. How is it served?

      I love steakhouses, the wood of them, the whiskey of them, the admiration of brusque service. Morton's and Mo's are fakes, and I don't want anything to do with them.

      Willett's and Tollgate are nice contenders, but your post makes me pine for Lugers. Which is closer to White Plains, the Brooklyn or the Long Island one?

      1. re: dolores

        can you see the Brooklyn Bridge from Lugers? Or are you thinking of the Williamsburg Bridge?

        1. re: dolores

          Dolores,

          Slab bacon is served the way you'd think it would be served at Luger's. Two strip, about twice the size of a regular piece of bacon and 1/2 inch thick. It's a little crazy at $12 an order, but I go with a bunch of guys every year and we make sure everyone has a strip. My favorite thing is to order that and a beefsteak tomato. A little Luger's sauce on the tomato, two strips of bacon, and please don't laugh, but I'm almost as happy as I am when eating the porterhouse!

          1. re: jhopp217

            Who's laughing at the joys of eating a big old hunk of bacon! If that's not heaven, then I don't know what is.

      2. Another thing that is rarely mentioned is the qualitity of the Great Neck Luger's. I have been to both many many of times, as my parents took me as a kid about twice a month, to each about equally. Brooklyn Luger was always better, until about 4 years ago. Since then I have had meals in Great Neck that were better than brooklyn, and sometimes they are equal. I think that since Brooklyn clearly no longer has the edge as it used to, it is convenience that is the primary pivot of decision. And another thing, the Great Neck Luger is more relaxed, and has better service. But you don't go to Luger's to have someone be 'nice' to you, you go for steak!

        5 Replies
        1. re: NYJewboy

          NYJ, all these years I thought that Luger's was in Manhasset.
          It's in Great Neck! Close enough. Their Manhasset, I mean Great Neck location, is much more convenient for me and yet I've never dined there before (always dined in Brooklyn). Can I score a reservation easily, or is it similar to Brooklyn's current wait?

          Link: http://www.peterluger.com/

          1. re: Cheese Boy

            No cheese boy, it is much easier. If you call a couple days in advance there should be no problem. It is a nicer dining area, less cramped, and I always feel more relaxed and less rushed. There are a couple of seating areas. I prefer directly in the back at the far end. it is very quiet and the service isw much better than in Brooklyn (meaning more attention less sarcasm). Enjoy!

            1. re: NYJewboy

              Once again I am in total agreement with you. I go to Brooklyn once or twice a year and go to the Great Neck branch every other month. Brooklyn has better atmosphere but G.N. has friendly waiters and getting a reservation is a breeze. I generally don't go on Friday or Saturday night so on a weekday,or Sunday, I call that afternoon and they give me the time I want that evening. I think that the steak is just as good in G.N. and every app,side dish, dessert and roll is identical to what is served in Brooklyn. I have had great steak at both locations so going to Brooklyn is no guarantee of getting a better steak. Throw in valet parking, a half full room at lunch everyday and the same ice cold Beck's and I see no reason to travel to Brooklyn if G.N. is closer.

              1. re: NYJewboy

                Thank you NYJ. I used to need the whole Brooklyn ambiance but I think Great Neck will be just as satisfying. I'm going for great steak afterall, and it sounds like they'll meet or
                exceed all expectations.

            2. re: NYJewboy

              I am totally sorry you are mentioning that the Great Neck location is just as good. While it's very true, if you put the word out there it will be harder for me to get a quicker reservation there than in Brooklyn. SHHHHHHH!

            3. I don't want my butt kissed, as you put it. Simple civility is all I ask in any restaurant. Being treated rudely tends to ruin my appetite. If you continue to frequent such an establishment you have lost your self respect. For steak?

              2 Replies
              1. re: soupcommie

                Rudeness and sarcasm are not exactly the same. Luger is known for having an attitude, old school men's club, but I have never heard of anyone being rude. There is a line, and to my knowledge they do not (definitely do not) cross it. The abrassive sarcasm has a charm that abuse does not have, obviously. Did something happen to anyone you know soupcommie?

                1. re: NYJewboy

                  Even our beloved Al Di La has an attitude!

              2. jhopp.. You wrote:

                "Peter Luger's wont wow you with ambience, but I went out for steak!, wont wow you with service, but I want steak, not sprigs of some unknown green on my plate served by a guy named Pierre, it may even be too loud. Who cares, when I am chewing I can't hear much anyway. Peter Luger's gives you dirty looks if you want anything more than medium, they know if you managed to get a seat, you know what you want, and they don't care if yuo don't have cash, go get some. It's all about the steak at Luger's"

                While I completely understand how you, and many other Posters feel,, for many of us, it's not just "All about the steak" It's also about the entire experience of enjoying a great meal served by pleasant waitstaff, in a comfortable, hospitable environment..
                While the porterhouse may often exceed the steaks served at other steak houses, when you factor in the others facets that create a "gem-like" dining experience, there are other places that, for some of us, better fit the bill. I think both Morton's and Keen's offer up outstanding steaks and enhanced expereinces.

                10 Replies
                1. re: Tay

                  "... a great meal served by pleasant waitstaff, in a confortable, hospitable environment." That is a perfect description of Peter Luger's in Great Neck. It is a far better meal on all levels then Keen's or Morton's.

                  1. re: stuartlafonda

                    stuart
                    Perhaps that is the experience at the PL's in GN. I have not been there so I cannot say. :
                    " It is a far better meal on all levels then Keen's or Morton's"
                    All levels?...SInce the service at both Morton's and Keen's is outstanding,
                    I cannot imagine it being any better..

                    1. re: Tay

                      I've been to Keens a couple of times, usually before a game at the garden, so maybe that is not the best time to go because the service we experienced was not terrible, but hardly outstanding. As for Morton's, it is certainly good service for a chain restaurant, do they still show you the raw meat and potatoes? I now realise that I have not been to a Morton's in many years as there are so many better steakhouses in the metropolitan area.

                      1. re: stuartlafonda

                        Despite the fact that there is more than one location, I would no more refer to Morton's as a 'chain restaurant' than I would refer to Peter Luger's as a chain restaurant. While I agree there are many great steaks being served in NY. I don't know that I would say there any better steakhouses. Those of you who are staunch PL fans are, like DiFara devotees, unflinchingly unbendingly loyal..
                        I suppose we will have to agree to disagree on this one. :-}

                        1. re: Tay

                          I just checked the Morton's web site and counted 82 restuarants in the United States. There are two Peter Luger restaurants. Morton's is a chain, Peter Luger's is not. I do agree with you that like many other 'hounds I am proudly, unflinchingly, unbendingly loyal to Luger's and Di Fara's. Are they both perfect all the time, no. When they are on, and that is most of the time, they are the best at what they do.

                          1. re: stuartlafonda

                            stuart
                            You counted all 82???.Wow! .I would never have had the patience/desire to do that.! Nevertheless..2 ... 82...182, ... Doesn't matter: .It's more than one :-}
                            I admire the loyalty part, but the unbending aspect can sometimes cause a stubborn rigidity that could be considered counterproductive. I'm not saying that is the case here. I'm just not a big fan of the 'blanket statement' Especially when it comes to the culinary arts.I think PL's is a wonderful restaurant, but even fans will tell you that it's the porterhouse, and the porterhouse only that makes the place extraordinary.
                            No one dish should define a great restaurant.any more than one facet can create a great gem stone.
                            I think I just use a wider criteria when determining what I would consider outstanding.

                            1. re: Tay

                              It has been my experience that I am more likely to get that near perfect steak at Luger's then at other places. Of course the fact that I eat at Luger's, when I'm seeking such a steak certinly lessens the chance of finding it somewhere else. I have been lucky at Lugers so I stick with them. As for the "one great dish", sometimes that is all I'm looking for so in that situation I consider the restaurant outstanding when it delivers the "one great dish". You are right though in that there is no single definition of outstanding when it comes to food or restaurants, other then DiFara, Just Kidding!

                              1. re: stuartlafonda

                                Very well put...
                                SInce the sum total of the experience, Vs any one thing, does it for me, one of these days, I'll have to try dining at the GN location. Maybe in a more hospitable environment, I'll react differently.
                                As for DiFara's (Sigh!) I'll never fully understand the adulation, but I accept it. :-}

                    2. re: stuartlafonda

                      I'm sorry, but I've been to both, probably fifty times. In fact, my father grew up in Great Neck, and I grew up going to Lugers there and the Old Homestead when they had a branch across the street. This week I went to Luger on Northern Blvd. and had the worst porterhouse I've ever had there. It had none of that aged quality of the steaks I've had there before- it was just blah. Sorry- the apps also were overcooked and the onion rolls were hard. I hope this is not foreshadowing a trend. I heard about their shortages of porterhouse last year.

                      1. re: rootytootyfreshnfrooty

                        Do you think this applies to other cuts? What do you know about this shortage?

                  2. The last two meals I had there (last six months) the steak was simply awful. The quality of the meat offended me, as did paying for it. Thats the reason I bash it. I like the gruff service, the bacon, etc. The steak they served me (regular person) sucked.

                    1. I don't get the surliness of the waiters. How exactly is that supposed to be enjoyable dining?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: jimnorton

                        jim
                        I don't get it either...
                        It just seems that those that love the place think of it as being 'gruff'' in some sort of endearing way. Those that are less captivated find it to be irritating.
                        In defense of PL's I'd have to say that not all the waiters are that way.

                        1. re: Tay

                          Tay- have you noticed that the porterhouse quality (aged taste and consistency) has been less than stellar recently as the accusations above state?

                          1. re: NYJewboy

                            NYJ
                            I'm not sure to which posting you are referring. I have never eaten in GN.
                            I am certainly no expert, not do I eat there frequently, but when I have dined at PL's, I have not noticed any change in the quality of the meat. The sides have been inconsistant, but the beef has been excellent.
                            Sometimes, I think the differences in quality are so slight that it comes down to the luck of the (steak) draw. I think people lose sight of the fact that this is an individualized product. It's raised, not manufactured. There are alwys going to be some variations, no matter how slight. An "off night" for steak on the night of my visit, might be followed by an exceptional night the evening of your visit.

                      2. I happen to still like the Peter Lugers in Brooklyn, the branch in Great neck is not as good at all. The thing is that so many new and very good Steak Houses have opened in the past few years that Lugers has kind of drifted to the back burner.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: the queen

                          queen...
                          If it's drifted b/c the food is not up to par, that's a shame but no one's to blame but the propriators. If it's been bannished to the back burner b/c of the public's insatiable need for 'new' and trendy', that's just pathetic.

                          1. re: the queen

                            Still like? On your profile page you list Luger's first in your top five restaurants! Perhaps it is time for an update. What is it about the Brooklyn branch that you find superior to GN? Other then the fact that it is more authentically old, I think GN beats it in every other way.

                            1. re: stuartlafonda

                              !. I found the Brooklyn branch's steaks to be far better
                              2. I'm going to have to change my profile...thanks for the reminder

                          2. Just a comment on the supposedly 'rude' waiters... I was there last weekend (Feb. 9) for a Saturday lunch, and the service was excellent. I wish I could remember the waiter's name. We were a dificult table... six adults, one of whom showed up very late and only ordered the (excellent) burger, and two boys ages 10 and 7. Unruly kids, confused orders, last minute changes, about 25 soda refills, spilled drinks - you name it. But our waiter was more than professional, he was nice, especially to my nephews.

                            As for the Steak, I've been going there 2-4 times a year for more than 15 years, and they do serve the best Steak in the city, and the best I have ever had. Yes, I have had some that were not up to par. I also suspect that they don't serve their best cuts of meat at lunch, which is when I have gone many times lately. But they are still the best, which doesn't mean that many of the other steakhouses in the city aren't also great. And the steak I had last week was right up there with the best I have ever had.

                            Finally, the bacon. I think Peter Luger's is actually a Baconhouse that serves excellent steak, and not the other way around.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Michael Ambrosio

                              Thats good to hear

                              1. re: Michael Ambrosio

                                Michael
                                "a Baconhouse that serves excellent steak, and not the other way around."
                                I love it! :-}