Cooking with Alison

Review of the Best Steakhouse in NYC and the USA – Peter Luger

In Reviews on July 4, 2016 at am
John loves going to steakhouses, so we eat at popular steakhouses whenever we travel together in the USA. (See my reviews for steakhouses in Toronto here.) We’ve been to E.B. Green’s in Buffalo, Longhorn in Michigan, we’ve had Maui Cattle Co. steaks and burgers in Maui, and most recently, we tried Keen’s (see my review here) and Peter Lugers in New York City.

Review of Peter Luger Steak House, NYC
Peter Luger Steak House, Brooklyn, New York, has been in business for over 125 years. The restaurant appears on most top steakhouse lists for not only New York, but also for the USA and North America. They serve dry aged, USDA Prime Beef and their specialty is the porterhouse which comes pre-sliced and bathed in butter. We went in April on a weekend for an early dinner. John had been to Peter Lugers several times before; this was my first time.
Special Notes
Peter Luger only accepts cash and their own Peter Luger credit card as forms of payment.
Reservations are recommended. However, if you wait at the bar, more times than not, you will be able to get a seat, because the restaurant leaves many tables open on purpose. We found this very frustrating, because when we called to make a reservation, the restaurant insisted that all of their tables were booked up. We settled for a 3:45 pm dinner reservation, only to discover that nearly half of the tables on every floor remained empty. Family and friends of ours have noticed the same pattern.
Decor and Atmosphere
The decor is bright, spacious, and comfortable. It has old school steakhouse characteristics, such as wood paneling and chandeliers, but it feels minimalist and open (i.e. modern) at the same time. The atmosphere is casual yet classy. Even the table settings feel very casual and family style. For example, they don’t provide butter knives.

Our meal came with complimentary soft bread and Luger sauce which is a sweet and tangy steak/BBQ sauce. It reminded me of a sweet onion sauce. John loves the Luger sauce, but I’m picky about BBQ sauce and I’ve never been a fan of steak sauce.

We ordered the tomatoes and onion side dish, because we had heard that they are homegrown. The tomatoes had excellent flavour; they were sweet, fresh, and perfectly ripened. The onions were very fresh, quite mild, and slightly sweet. I can see why the onions are very popular, but they don’t hold a candle to the Maui grown onions that we had just a few months prior to our New York trip. So, in my opinion, the tomatoes and onions were quite overpriced.
We shared the porter house steak for two (USDA prime and dry aged) rare. I noticed that the menu doesn’t list the number of ounces for the steak. Personally, I think that steakhouses should be consistent with their portion sizes and should weigh their steaks to ensure this.
The steak was cooked perfectly. They use a very hot broiler to brown the top of their steaks. Normally, I prefer old fashioned, charcoal grilled steak, but as far as broiler steaks goes, this was executed with perfection. It was beautifully browned with small charred bits. The crust was crispy without being burnt, dry, or tough. One of my few complaints I have about Peter Lugers is that they don’t sear or broil the bottom of the steak. The meat was quite tender, but it lacked true beef flavour. Also, it tastes like they use table salt, which I don’t personally care for.
What makes Peter Luger steaks unique is the presentation. They are served pre-sliced and swimming in melted butter on a sizzling hot plate. I love that the meat itself was lightly seasoned, so you could appreciate the salted butter. I appreciated how the waiter set the platter up on the table on an angle, so that the butter could drain to one side of the serving plate. This prevents the steaks from cooking further and from becoming overly saturated with butter. It also allows you to use the butter as a dip. Note that the serving plate comes out messy.
We didn’t have any dessert at Peter Luger, but I’ve heard great things about their cheesecake. At the end of the meal, our waiter gave us gold chocolate coins with the bill.
I read a lot of complaints online about the service at Peter Lugers. Our waiter wasn’t rude or snobby, but he wasn’t overly attentive. Our water glasses weren’t filled most of the night, we received minimal attention and minimal interaction.
Overall Review
I have yet to find a steakhouse that cooks a steak perfectly and uses the highest quality meat. In my opinion, Peter Luger makes the best broiled steak that I’ve ever had. I just wish that they would sear or broil the bottom of their steaks as well. Although the quality of the meat and the service isn’t the best, I still highly recommend this restaurant. On a side note, the best quality meat that I’ve ever had at a steakhouse was from Jacob’s & Co., Toronto, ON (see my review here).
  1. Good job. I can’t find prices on their menu(s), what was the damage? Best broiled steak, ever. OK. Possibly worth it, I would have to, uh, check their prime rib out, somebody has to do this thankless task. Service is subjective, I would order a bottle of red and if the waiter is not around, no problem whatsoever, glug glug glug. Wine list and prices always of interest to carnivores. Hovering servers tend to interfere with the beef experience: my bias, I do not dine to be entertained by tomorrow’s Oscar winner. The salad–I’ve never seen one like that, where/how would you ever find the right quality of the produce? Cut the grease, I suspect. Obviously this business has changed–at one time in N America, steak was a staple, with spuds, etc., burnt on the outside, raw on the inside, it got the job done and did it rather well, if you had the dough. It lost a major PR campaign along with many other former standards, for example animal fats were toxic for 50 years, now they are again superior (as any Chinese chef could have confirmed, with Confucius as key witness). Thanks for the review. I would be the guy who just walked in and then waited at the bar: how can you lose?

    • Hi Bo, thanks for your comments! The steak for 2 at Peter Luger’s worked out to be about the same price as Keen’s per mutton chop. It was only off by a few dollars. And you’re right about lard getting a bad rap for too long!

  2. Great review of Peter Lugar. I was there a couple of years ago and they are very good. My top two steaks are Carnevino in Las Vegas and Cattleman’s Steakhouse in Okalhoma City. Carnevino does magic with their aging process and Cattleman’s gets the best beef, likely because they are located at the cattle stockyard in OKC.

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