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Update on Peter Luger Meal - Big Disappointment

On 1/11 (Saturday night) 5 of us had dinner at Peter Luger's. I hadn't been to PL in several years (been to both Brooklyn and Great Neck) so I was looking forward to it, as were the other 4 guests. The following is a consensus review.

Drinks: My Manhattan was a killer, one of the best I've had in a restaurant in many years. Wife's Martini was similarly good.

We opted to skip appertizers, but did get a mixed salad with blue cheese dressing which was acceptable.

Main course was steak for four, German potatoes and creamed spinach. The potates and spinach were also acceptable, nothing great. (One diner enjoyed the spinach "very much")

None of us found the steak to be up to the PL hype. Three of us had eaten at PL and all agreed the quality of the steak was way below what we remember. As an aside, on New Years Eve I had a steak at Jubilee on 1st Aveue in Manhattan and it was tons better than the PL one.

We did have desert, the hot fudge sundae and it was good.

An observation: I am not an elitest snob, but I noticed that our room was filled with, how should I say this...no offence.."commoners." While waiting for our fifth guest to arrive, I noticed the better dressed guests and "regulars" were shown to one room, while the bourgeois escorted to the "back room."

Bottom line, will not return.

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  1. By "commoners" did you mean younger patrons? Or did you mean something else?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

      Not younger, although some were. They way they were dressed (casual) including us. No fancy duds.

    2. An observation: I am not an elitest snob, but I noticed that our room was filled with, how should I say this...no offence.."commoners." While waiting for our fifth guest to arrive, I noticed the better dressed guests and "regulars" were shown to one room, while the bourgeois escorted to the "back room."
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      First, sorry you were disappointed with your meal and experience.

      With regards to the highlighted paragraph....I've learned not to be judgmental over the years, as I do not know peoples circumstances....however, as someone who has owned restaurants and worked in Country Clubs at a time when dress codes are enforced...there is appropriate dress for some restaurants in my opinion. I would certainly have no problem going into PL in jeans, but I could not fault them for sticking me in a back room while putting other patrons dressed in suits and elegant evening wear in the front. ...or as you say, their regulars.

      In this day, casual dress seems to be the norm, but at a friends fine dining restaurant...I would never show up in his place in inappropriate attire....like shorts and jeans. It would be disrespectful to him.

      1. So someone is a "commoner" if they don't dress well? Just imagine If someone happened to not know of Mark Zuckerberg and labeled him a "commoner" because of the clothes he wears.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Rick

          That seemed to be the way the hosts "segregated" the diners. I was in jeans and sneakers, and none of the other diners were well dressed. One of our diners was from a well known family which owns theaters in NYC. Hardly a "commoner," but still relagated to the back room. As for MZ showing up in his trademarked hoodie, I'm sure he'd be recognized and shown to a top table, as well as Kim Kardashian (sp) whom I consider as "common" as they come. But I digress.

          1. re: Rick

            i once saw rich kotite walk into the PL's in great neck in mesh shorts and sandals. i think he was fired as head coach of the jets that same year. not sure if there's a correlation there.

          2. I am so glad to hear that somebody else did not like PL. The night I went, there were three of us. I ordered the tomato/onion app, steak for 3 and home fries. Immediately after ordering, a woman in my party stated she did not want steak. My error. I shouldn't have assumed. I called the waiter back and ordered salmon for her (it was less than two minutes after the initial order). The drinks were terrific as you said. I was drinking whiskey sours (a throwback to old times). The steak did not have much flavor and very little char. The rest of the meal was, um, edible. When the check came, I was charged for a steak for three and the salmon. When I mentioned it to the waiter, he got an attitude and started arguing with me that it was too late to change the order when I called him back. We certainly weren't served enough steak for three. I asked to speak to the manager. He straightened out the bill but it still came to almost $300. Never, NEVER again. The way people rave about PL on this board, you would think they had been to heaven and back.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Sluggo1407

              The one time we went to the one in Brooklyn, we were late by 10-15 minutes due to my BIL missing the turn so we went over the bridge and had to turn back. We had made our reservation at least a month before, but that 15 time gap made us have to wait way over another hour to get a table. Hard to truly enjoy the food when you feel like you're not welcome. I know it's their schtick but whatever. This was many years ago so I'm pretty sure we were dressed to the nines, or at least the eights ;-) I remember my BIL stressing that we had to dress up.

              1. re: coll

                I always assume a wait (pump up the bar bill) but if I linger over a drink they figure out quickly that the premium barspace is better used if I am seated. The other post about the salmon.steak flap is distressing. I'd have gone back the next day at lunch and had a serious chat when things were calmer.

                you never know about chop houses....it is easy to skimp and a reputation of forty years can vanish in a wisp of smoke. Luger shouldn't allow that, though. There's too much riding on this to screw up the future. Now if uit is sold to Acme Restaurant group, well you can write "finis."

              2. re: Sluggo1407

                Thanks for your reply. Sorry you also had a bad meal.

              3. I've not been in awhile but I have had sub-par (for them) meat. The steak would have been fine anywhere else but on those rare occasions it was merely good. It has never been bad as it became at some now-dead places prior to the End.

                My niece was amused that I dressed in a suit to take her there for her first visit. I told her I always dress in a suit (not sport coat) for good New York restaurants, certainly at dinner. I've always gotten a good table even though I am no regular (but I go back further in there than almost all the waiters). I just don't think twice about putting on a suit. It is casual, to me.

                1. I've only been to PL once (loved the steak, was not impressed by anything else, even the martini) but one bit of advice I've consistently heard and read over the years is to only order the steak for 2. Don't know why, but everyone says that steak for 3+ is not worth it, and not so good, and to just order multiples of the steak for 2.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: EricMM

                    Wish we had that advice before we went. If, and thats a BIG IF, we go back we'll certainly do that.

                    1. re: Stuartmc910

                      I'm so sorry you were disappointed. Please don't be upset, but zorrosf did mention getting the steak for 2 and if there were more of you, to get multiple orders of the steak for 2. The cut they serve for 2 (traditional porterhouse) is not the same as the steak for 3.

                      Again, I'm very sorry you were disappointed.

                    2. re: EricMM

                      Years ago (last century) our waiter (in Brooklyn) advised us to order 2 Porterhouses (for 2), instead of either the steak for 3 or 4. We've stuck to that over the last 15 years or so and never been disappointed.

                    3. Those dressed in casual clothes should be segregated into an adjoining room in a fancy establishment. It is only fair to those who dress for the occasion, and it keeps the tone of things even. Nothing wrong with that. HOWEVER the food should be the same. Etiquette is dead, and its last gasp should be honored. I also think women should only wear skirts and dresses in such places, or risk being relegated to he slob room as well. Men should be able to do what they want...if they are paying.

                      17 Replies
                      1. re: NYJewboy

                        Despite their prices, I would hardly classify PL as "fancy." Old worldish, quaint, or whatever word comes to mind.

                        1. re: Stuartmc910

                          Yes, I agree. My point was the preservation of the cultural order. And fundamentally I also agree with you the food has suffered. I am not happy about it.

                          1. re: NYJewboy

                            Jewvoy. What was the point at which it started to suffer ?????

                            1. re: kevin

                              I think I noticed it slip about 5 years ago.

                              1. re: NYJewboy

                                I see. It's been about 10 years since I've been there.

                          2. re: Stuartmc910

                            I've eaten there twice, once in 2000 and once 2012. Both times the waiters had "attitude." Why? So unnecessary. On both trips I ate in other restaurants in NYC and had no problems. (I did enjoy the steak.)

                          3. re: NYJewboy

                            Women should wear skirts and dresses, but men should be able to do what they want if they are paying? The slob room? What pathetic comments in this day and age!!

                            1. re: Sluggo1407

                              well, you know, people with poor breeding tend to act out that way. it's a shame. we need side rooms for that kind.

                              1. re: debinqueens

                                So, what you're saying, is that people that aren't all dressed up have poor breeding?

                                1. re: Sluggo1407

                                  It certainly is a possibility...

                                  1. re: fourunder

                                    I have to say that I agree with you fourunder. I'm someone who both flouts certain rules but really honours tradition. It really annoys the hell out of me when people get upset when they're told they'll be treated differently if they're in jeans or casual wear in a restaurant above a certain price point. It's like a faux classist outrage as if they still naively believe that America is still based on a meritocracy or something.

                                    News flash: If you go to $300 tab restaurant only wearing jeans and a hoodie, you *will* be treated differently. Every other generation literally around the world, pre-35 years ago understands this. For some reason Americans think it's an exception for them.

                                    This is the along the same lines of wearing jeans to church. I'm atheist but it makes me cringe to see people do it. I understand if you are really poor and that is your Sunday best (that's where the tradition came from; the middle class church goers just got lazy with it and appropriated it as "laid back church style").

                                    1. re: cornedhash

                                      If a restaurant has a dress code, it should display the dress code prominently. If it doesn't have a dress code, then it better treat all patrons equally even if the men are not in suits. When they wrote that "all men are created equal", there was no mention that it only applied to men in suits.

                                      Personally, I would never choose a restaurant that requires jackets or suits. Maybe it's the flower child in me. I've not been to Peter Luger and never plan to. This place is way outside my price range.

                                      1. re: Robotron

                                        So you and Peter Luger will live apart happily ever after - I love stories with happy endings!

                                        1. re: Robotron

                                          "When they wrote that 'all men are created equal', there was no mention that it only applied to men in suits."

                                          There's goes that meritocracy thinking again. That actually did really only apply to the (white) men in suits who were landowners. Not the middle class or poor white men even.

                                        2. re: cornedhash

                                          I am a Peter Luger semi regular, a couple of times a year for forever. I have always loved the place and still do. As for the dress code and appropriateness I will say this. In Brooklyn I am usually in a suit, having come from work, or in business casual. When dressed in such manner I have been seated in every single area in the restaurant, not sure if there is a "poorly dressed person" area. In Great Neck, I am always in jeans, in fact it is yet another one of the things I love about them. Sunday night, relaxed and comfortable with the family for a great steak meal. In jeans,casual shirt, and sneakers. Never had a problem, not sure where Siberia is at that location but there is nowhere I would be unhappy sitting. Never ever treated differently by my dress.

                                          1. re: stuartlafonda

                                            Me too.... since one of the owners of the PL's is my neighbor..
                                            Ask for George in Gn...a nice , gracious guy from Westbury , LI whose roots are in South America...

                                      2. re: Sluggo1407

                                        I was actually implying just the opposite, that the poster who was so offended by the sight of the great unwashed had poor breeding. Sorry for being unclear.

                                        By the way, I've gone to Luger dressed up and I've gone in jeans and been treated well either way.

                                2. anyone have a link to Jim Leff's old review on Peter Luger ?????

                                  Thanks.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: kevin

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2410...

                                  2. I was so disappointed by our family meal at Peter Luger. There was no quality for the price. Mediocre food, crowded spaces and high prices do not make for a return visit.

                                    1. Stuartmc, forget PL ... I am NOT a fan.
                                      Tell us a bit more about the steak at Jubilee. What did you have?

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                                        New Year's Eve prix fixe. Cream of chestnut soup with wild mushrooms and truffle oil. Filet mignon Rossini, which was perfect, pink center, charred outside, tender and tasty. Have you been there?

                                        1. re: Stuartmc910

                                          iayours that jubilee that you are feferencing ????

                                          Thanks.

                                          1. re: kevin

                                            The one on 1st Ave. between 52/53 streets

                                          2. re: Stuartmc910

                                            @Stuartmc, can't say that I've been there (Jubilee), but I am always in search of a proper steak. I thought perhaps that you might have had a comment on their Steak au Poivre.

                                            @Egit, thanks for the Mussels info. Sounds great and the menu looks good too !!

                                            Menu -- http://www.jubileeny.net/menus/dinner...

                                            1. re: Cheese Boy

                                              As I mentioned it was prix fixe and that wasn't on the menu. Going again soon and will have it and report back.

                                          3. re: Cheese Boy

                                            No to hijack, but Jubilee has excellent mussels.

                                            Back to Peter Luger. I went there ONCE I think in 2006. Our waiter was fine. A little gruff but very pleasant. We asked a few questions, we got polite, informative answers. I can't say I remember the steak all that well. It was a weeknight, so we were all dressed at least "office wear." I don't believe there were any jeans/sneakers. We sat in the front room.

                                            What I DO remember is being made to wait over an hour (maybe 90 minutes) for a table for 5 which we had reserved well in advance. Not only did we not get even the faintest hint of an apology, the Maitre D' oozed such attitude that you'd think he was actually doing us a giant favor by seating us.

                                            Will I ever go back? Sure, maybe. If it's someone else's idea. It's been 7-8 years at this point, so I feel like I've made my point. :-) But the real point is that PL is inconvenient for me to get to, and I just don't go out to high-end steak houses very often anyway.

                                            1. re: egit

                                              As I noted above, I always assume a wait at the bar, assuming they are pumping up the bar tab. Whenever I see this I just dig in my heels.

                                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                                To be fair, both times I went, we, of course, had made reservations well in advance and both times we were seated within 10 minutes or so (and the place was packed!)

                                                1. re: walker

                                                  Oh, I always have reservations that have been confirmed etc but there is still something of a wait. Usually about ten/15 minutes.

                                                  Pascale Manales in New Orleans used to be famous for this trick. 6:30 reservation and you waiting in the bar for an hour. I just quit playing the game.Against my wishes we went to a Sullivan's steal house some years ago. Sat in the bar for an hour while the "jazz club"(i.e. "Noise Machine") across the hall blasted like the Hindenburg going up. When we finally got to a table, there were twenty or so empty tables in "The Library" section. The hell with 'em. I have never been back and would never counsel anyone to go.

                                                  1. re: hazelhurst

                                                    I know the drill. It's insulting, garishly mercantile, and taints what may otherwise have been a perfect evening and a good memory. Sipping a cocktail in the bar while observing empty tables, that becomes the memory.

                                                2. re: hazelhurst

                                                  Yeah, I understand there are many reasons why one may have to wait a little bit in the bar area, including simply trying to sell more drinks. To a certain extent, I'm okay with that.

                                                  Our wait was an hour, at the very least. That goes beyond acceptable. When I finally had enough waiting, I went up to the guy and asked when we might be seated. He seemed neither surprised that we were still waiting, nor apologetic in the least. The bar area was packed, so it wasn't even a comfortable place to wait. I think we were seated about 30 minutes after I went up and inquired.

                                                  After the fact a friend of mine asked if I'd offered him a 20. Of course we hadn't. And, I dunno, is that what is expected? Was that the source of his attitude? Between pre-drinks, dinner for 5, probably 3 bottles of wine, we probably dropped $750 at least. Probably closer to $1K. I was annoyed at that experience.

                                                  1. re: egit

                                                    I've greased palms before but won't do it there because I don't go often enough. I just stand at the bar and make it clear I am not having anything else and am burning up revenue-earning space. the message gets through

                                                    1. re: hazelhurst

                                                      Exactly.

                                                      There's no drink minimum, so it's in their best interest to seat those who are NOT drinking !!! Let those who are imbibing wait.

                                                3. re: egit

                                                  My wife says they're the best in the city. I don't eat seafood so I'll take her opinion as gospel.

                                              2. Just two quick comments, I've always had great steak at Peter Lugers but I've only ever had the steak for two, never for four. Secondly, I've never liked their German potatoes, bleh.

                                                1. I showed in sneakers and jeans last year, got sent to the dining room with all windows on the main street. Is that the commoners room?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Shirang

                                                    I don't think so. Our room did have windows but I don't think it faced the main street (Broadway).

                                                  2. I have eaten at PL in Brooklyn for more than 55 years. In fact I have a low 3 digit PL credit card (that belonged to my father and grandfather before me).

                                                    Regulars are entitled to be seated in their area of choice. They are the lifeblood of a restaurant. When a restaurant wants to portray an image, they will seat the 'beautiful people' front and center to be on display and seen by all that enter. This seating arrangement both creates an aura and gives newbies and tourists somthing to aspire to.

                                                    This is NOT just a PL thing, but very common in better (price level) restaurants and nightclubs.

                                                    I am not commenting on the food or drink, as taste is subjective, as long as they were fresh and prepared and served as ordered I would not be complaining. Is PL as good as it was 50 years ago? My memory is clouded by nostalgia of dining there with family members who are no longer alive. But IMHO it certainly is as good as it was 10 or 15 years ago.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                      That's funny, bagel. At The 21 Club in it's heyday, around the 70's plus decades before I crashed it, newbies thought they were getting special treatment with a table upstairs, while all the regulars dined at street level.

                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                        Veggo....
                                                        In the 50s and 60s it was the same at Kaysey's in New Haven across from Shubert. Tourists thought it was great to be seated upstairs where they could look down at the entrance and see all the show people enter. To the regulars upatairs was the equivalent of the cheap seats in Shubert.....2nd balcony.
                                                        Orchestra seats and a main floor center aisle table

                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                          Among several reasons my father loathed Henri Soule was the seating game at Le Pavillion He wouldn't play that game and Soule damn well knew it. Plus, who wanted to be seated near Those Awful People?

                                                    2. We went a few years back as it was lauded as the best burger in the city. Meh…it was fine, but nothing to get excited about. Did not give me desire to return and try the steak.