Wolfgang's= Peter Luger? Not Quite
Wolfgang's was very good last night. Is it Peter Luger? No. More like Diet Peter Luger.... Peter Luger Lite.
There were some things that Wolfgang's did very well, however I just couldn't get past comparing them in every way to Peter Luger. I mean how could I not? They are basically trying to duplicate everything that PL is. They are a "copycat" in every way. The menus and preparation style are almost identical with a few different options here and there. As a PL lover I tried coming in with an open mind. I wanted to give Wolfgang's a shot to see if they could actually "one up" my vaunted favorite. Unfortunately for them, they could not. But that does not mean that they didn't turn out a very good and enjoyable steak dinner because they did. Here is what we ordered:
Bacon to start, which was sublime (how can you go wrong). I went with a bunch of my coworkers and we had 4 steaks for two and one ribeye. For sides we sampled the French fries, German potatoes, creamed spinach, sautéed spinach, sautéed mushrooms. For dessert, we had pecan pie, apple streudel, tiramisu which was a special, and ice cream. All desserts came with schlag, however they do not give you a HUGE bowl like PL does. Also, the schlag was nowhere near the same as PL. The schlag at PL is heavenly and is so thick and creamy it is basically somewhere between buttercream and ice cream. Much heavier and satisfying than Wolfgang's version. Wolfgang's schlag was more airy like the stuff you get out of the can.
Here are some other takeaways from the meal:
For me, I split a porterhouse for two RARE with my friend. Unfortunately, our steak came out with mostly medium slices and a few bordering on medium rare. I'd say there might have been 2 slices that were even remotely close to rare. This was a bit of a disappointment for me. Being with a bunch of coworkers I didn't want to make a big stink or complain. But if I was with family I probably would have sent it back for a more rare steak. Still, the meat was very good and I devoured a decent amount of it, of course gnawing on the bone as well.
The fries that I adore so much at PL were not as good at Wolfgang's. The creamed spinach and onion rings were both on point. One thing that I thought was expertly done was the German potatoes. I usually don't order them at PL since I love the fries, but we got them being a large group. They were absolutely delicious. Also, the sautéed mushrooms (not offered at PL) were great. Wish PL would add these to the menu. Overall, I thought the sides were really good, but Wolfgang should have tried a little harder to steal the secret recipe for the fries.
The desserts had mixed results. We all enjoyed the pecan pie. But I found the strudel to be dry and seriously lacking apple. Also, the tiramisu while good was nothing special. And that schlag issue that I mentioned above was a true low point. Also, where are the after dinner chocolates???? Don't expect them here.
Bottom line? You can try to duplicate the greatness of the original but it cannot be done. There is only one Peter Luger.
If PL didn't exist maybe I would say Wolfgang's was exceptional. But problem is PL does exist and Wolfgang's cannot say that they are the better steakhouse. Still, I would probably put Wolfgang's up there with some of the top steakhouses in the city... probably in the top 5.
Service was top notch, loved the atmosphere, and had a great time with friends. For $100, I left there feeling like my money was well spent.
If you have a hankering for a porterhouse in the Luger style, Wolfgang's is a very good alternative and definitely satisfied. Just cook the steak more rare, improve the French fries, and steal the schlag recipe and you will get even high grades from me lol.
A couple of reasons why I think Wolfgang's is better than Luger's:
1. I live in Manhattan and so the location is much more convenient.
2. They accept credit cards
3. I like the atmosphere of the Park Ave. location more (if with friends) and the Tribeca location more (if with family)
4. Service is generally better
I have found the food to be pretty much a wash (at least the things I find important, i.e. the steak). The sides have never been a forte of either Luger's or Wolfgang's in my opinion; I much prefer the sides at Striphouse, Del Frisco or even Keen's.
I think steak in this city is such a personal choice and there are so many good options and for the reasons I outlined above I have a difficult time making it out to Luger's unless I have good friends from out of town coming to visit.
1221 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020
re: edible n
DH also prefers Wolfgang's over Luger -- but only because he thought the meat was cooked better. He's not a huge dessert person, so he wouldn't care if the schlag or strudel was better at Luger. He's been there numerous times -- perhaps the beef that the OP received was an anomaly.
re: Miss Needle
Oh my. Too bad for your lousy meals. You must be pretty optimistic to go back three times after those experiences. I think I may have only done two max. I've only been to Wolfgang's once and it was a very positive experience. Steak looked good, smelled good and was cooked properly. And most importantly it tasted mighty damn fine.
Yes I do like the chocolates they give you at the end of the meal. Who doesn't like chocolate? I like to dip them in the schlag and also take some home as a nice "souvenir". Plus it is a nice touch don't you think?
In response to edible n.
1. I can understand that about the location and as I said if in the city Wolfgang's is a good alternative.
2. Peter Luger accepts their own credit card but now also accepts checks and debit cards as well (which everyone has).
3. Peter Luger is by no means Daniel as far as atmosphere goes, but I still find it extremely fun and charming in its own right. It is a NY landmark.
4. I disagree. While I had great service at Wolfgang's, Peter Luger gets such a terrible rep for negative service. I have had better service at Peter Luger than at some of the "top" restaurants in Manhattan. Always couterous, charming, funny, and accomodating.
As for the sides I think the fries at PL are some of the best I have ever had. Same goes for the onion rings and creamed spinach. Their sides aren't overly inventive or extensive but they are expertly done.
When reviewing steakhouses I take location and convenience out of the equation. I am purely judging the food experience.