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Jul 21, 2009 05:03 PM

Peter Luger's dinner (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

So I recently went to dinner at Luger's and figured I'd give my take on it. Originally had a 9:45pm reservation for 2 on a recent Monday evening. Luger's called me about a week in advance, told me they were canceling that time slot, and offering me an 8:45pm reservation instead. I accepted it as my date would have preferred to eat a little earlier than 9:45. We showed up at about 8:30pm and were seated right away in the 1st floor dining room to the right, after the bar.

Service was quick and prompt enough. Waiter asked us if we needed menus (standard Lugers protocol) and we said "yes". It was my date's first time and I wanted to give her the courtesy of at least viewing the menu, even if I had already pre-determined the courses as I knew she would not object. The waiter suggested the following courses: tomato & onion appetizer, slice of bacon each, porterhouse for 2, sides of creamed spinach and german-style potatoes. Excellent: precisely what I would have ordered, except for the potatoes. I think either we said, or the waiter sensed, we were not regulars and adopted a "take-charge" mode, which was fine. I had no ego tussle with him. His service throughout dinner was efficient, and cordial. Definitely not slow-paced or over-friendly. Nor was he brusque or rude. Knowing Luger's reputation, I would have been crazy to expect the waiter to overly cater. While waiting for our food, I told my date a little about Luger's, its reputation, its critics and its defenders' views.

Here's a rundown of the food quality:
Dinner rolls: not heated; mediocre at best. Save your stomach.
Tomato and Onion: very good, as expected, with the Luger's sauce.
Bacon: below-average. Definitely not as good (thick, juicy) as I remembered. This was disappointing.
Porterhouse for 2: perfectly medium-rare, as requested. (I'm a rib-eye guy, but at Luger's, I order porterhouse b/c I know that's their signature.) I can hardly fathom another steakhouse doing it better. I used the sauce very sparingly, preferring to savor its own flavor.
Creamed spinach: superb. Seriously. I usually order this as a steakhouse side, but even I was shocked at how good it was. Perfectly balanced b/w creaminess and spinach-iness. Even better than I remembered.
German-style potatoes: mediocre. My local coffeehouse's home fries are as good or better.
Chocolate mousse cake with schlag (cream): good, (my date's choice; I personally couldn't care for c mousse.) Schlag was excellent.
German-style coffee: good. Had brandy. haha, didn't know - live and learn.

We were the last table left. Felt just a teensy weensy bit rushed at the end. It wasn't all that late, (forgot the time), but I guess that's their schedule. That's why they canceled the 9:45 slot. We closed out the dining room.

Bill was $195 (including 20% tip). I had, during dinner, openly complimented the food to the waiter. After dinner, out of earshot of my date, I discreetly mentioned to him that I thought the bacon was sub-par. He said it depends on the cut. Next time, I'll be sure to ask him in advance, so at least he's aware that I know how good it can be, and when it's not.

So, after this, I have reaffirmed my belief and opinion that Brooklyn Luger's is indeed worth the trip. I will maintain my opinion and advice to others: if you are debating whether to go, go and try it for yourself, b/c then you won't be guessing or listening to others' opinions. And if you were to choose b/w Brooklyn or Great Neck Luger's, choose Brooklyn.

Oh, it's not just cash only, they also take debit.

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  1. Thank you for this comprehensive, thoughtfully written review. I'm not PL's biggest fan but reviews like yours remind me of how great the 'PL Experience' can be. :-)

    1. Nice review. Thanks for taking the time to give us that level of detail.

      1. Excellent review.

        For years I've ordered my steak medium rare but in recent years, I've gotten some really bloody steaks.

        Would you say the medium rare at Luger's was on the medium or rare side?

        BTW, I'v never been to Luger's, I'm just preparing for the day I do go.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Scagnetti

          Ugh I wish that happened during my dining experience there. Ordered a steak medium-rare (I prefer rare but the people i was sharing the steak with were lame), but it came out more like medium. Ruined the whole experience for me.

          1. re: janethepain

            Re both janethepain and Scagnetti: my porterhouse was perfectly done - medium-rare; no error on either side. It was the textbook definition. If you look up "medium-rare" in a dictionary, you'll get a picture of Luger's porterhouse. No exaggeration. I cannot imagine a porterhouse being any better.

            Re janethepain: I'm sooo sorry to hear that. I totally agree - medium-rare and medium are like, day and night difference, for those who appreciate it. Here's my take on that situation: for $88 for a porterhouse for 2, you are perfectly entitled to return it. I would just do it very gently and very nicely, perhaps even walk over to the waiter station and not complain at the table where the waiter will be put on the spot. I'm sure he'd appreciate that. Here's a tip, only in hindsight: when ordering, remember to mention to the waiter how important it is that it is done to the right temp. So, if it comes out wrong, it won't come as a shock if you want it returned.

            Re everyone: thanks for the positive feedback. I've been to Lugers a handful of times in my lifetime. Each time the steak's been done to request. Getting steak done wrong is a difficult situation to handle. But, remember, Luger's staff don't fuss around. If you are looking for a langorous pace, don't go to Luger's.

            1. re: janethepain

              Yes, most steaks are OVERCOOKED and often by a lot. Even at the best steakhouses. I blame the masses. Should not even be offered beyond a certain temperature. I think you should order RARE to be safe, Jane, regardless of your dining company. If they only understood or adhered to the fact that MED RARE has a red center, just not the whole center from sear to sear. Proper Med Rare is just fine but this is what happens when institutions cater to the ignorant. Have them go to Outback or if they want to pretend to be fancy, Ruth's Chris, where they belong.

              Nooyawka, overall, I agree almost exactly with your assessment in terms of the food though tomato and onions is something I do not comprehend ordering. Also, use of the sauce, however sparingly, lessens your street cred.

              German tates are a must even though they are not that good, as you said. Sometimes they are good and very often mediocre but that is how it is.

              I am a P Luger fan but they have dipped a bit of late, no doubt. My latest dealings with the clones show them to be far worse(which suprised me, no excuse, rhyme or reason for that)but I might be hitting another one somewhat soon. Hopefully, much better.

              1. re: dietndesire

                <<Yes, most steaks are OVERCOOKED and often by a lot.>>
                I disagree. I live in Dallas where we have more high end steakhouses than a show dog can jump over. Most restos will UNDERCOOK a steak because that is a more acceptable error than one that comes out tougher than a boot.

                Here's what I say:
                "I would like it medium rare on the medium side."

                "Sir, I can't assure you of that."

                "Than I'll take it medium."

                The restos with a nut sack will answer "Yes" to the "medium rare on the medium side" question.

                1. re: Scagnetti

                  Since the platter the steak comes on at Luger's is extremely hot, some of their waiters, when asked, suggest to order your steak at the less done end of your preference, and then to place any underdone piece on the edge of the plate to reach desired doneness. Works for my wife who likes her steak better done than the rest of the family.

                  1. re: rothsteg

                    I agree...when I went to PL's, my experience was pretty much the same as the OP...except my family won't eat bacon, so we didn't order it......I split my porterhouse with my oldest son...he prefers medium rare, I prefer medium...the waiter (who was very good, helpful and polite) made the exact suggestion to hold the meat against the plate if I wanted it done more...didn't have to do that much since the steak was really good as it came...both my son and I loved it.

                2. re: dietndesire

                  We go to Peter Luger on a regular basis, as I have since I was a child

                  I like my steak very well done, and they have always done it exactly as I requested. We don't need other people telling us, nor ordering us, how we should eat our food.. There are already enough people out there trying to control what we eat.

            2. Nice review. I am going with friends this evening and having the exact same thing (washed down with plenty of "Luger's" Dark beer.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Ralphus

                Have a great time! Please tell us about your experience. Yeah, I forgot to mention, both rothsteg and EricMM are right. The waiter shows you how to hold the meat against the side of the platter to cook it more. So maybe it's a good strategy to deliberately order it undercooked.

                1. re: nooyawka

                  Wonderful experience! Steak was cooked perfectly and had tons of flavor. I really dig the creamed spinach because you can actually see/taste spinach and it isn't all butter and cream. Waiter was great, knew exactly what we wanted, was cordial and attentive.
                  As expected, started with the bacon which was thick, smoky and juicy. Tomato salad followed. Then porterhouses for all with spinach and potatoes. A few desserts were shared but after the meal and several Peter Lugar's Nut Brown Ales, not many had an interest.

                  I am not one to buy into hype, I judge a meal on it's own merits. This one was great.

              2. Had a heavenly meat-eating experience there a couple of months ago. I must have gotten a good cut of bacon. It was excellent ... especially with the tomato/onion salad. Service was great and the waiter even told us we were odering too much food (which we were) and saved us some money!