This week in The New York Times, Frank Bruni re-reviews Peter Luger, the venerable steakhouse in New York City. This is a dining institution, revered in the hearts of many a carnivore and heralded as the standard-bearer of the genre, not least because of its imitators. It is held in the same esteem for some as a representative of the Big Apple along with The Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building, subway breakdowns, street fairs, and Central Park. While Mr. Bruni found much to like about this 120-year-old eatery, he did downgrade it by one star from the previous review, which had given it three.
I vividly remember my one and only trip there several years ago, which made my tastebuds dance again as I read the article. It was the most wonderful steak I have ever eaten, seriously. The experience was just as Mr. Bruni had described his best trip to be. We had a very cute Irish waiter who was a great server, even the gruffness of the more senior waiter who was supervising our section was part and parcel of the ritual. Tomato salad to start, one order of Porterhouse rare and one medium, creamed spinach, red wine. I think I was still digesting my dinner the next day but it was so worth it.
The atmosphere was very old-school. While waiting for our party to gather, we hung out in the bar area. Everything about the place was all bare-bones dark wood, emanating testosterone and deal-making. Our group increased the quotient of women in the entire restaurant by about 4-fold. Someone must have had a sense of humor though, because in order to make it to the ladies room, it was necessary to pass a table of 3 priests enjoying their dinners.
While even Eater agreed that a downgrade was worthy, it was interesting to read the review, nonetheless, and my mouth was watering at the descriptions of Mr. Bruni’s trips. Could I please have such a worthy job to do! I’ll even put my hand up to do a comparison of Luger’s versus other steakhouses in town. Does anyone want to come with me? Oh, I know there’s at least a few of you readers who do.