Peter Luger overall score: 79
What NYC steakhouse review site would be complete without the obligatory Peter Luger entry? Luger is synonymous with steak in NYC. Within a minute of discussing steak in NYC, someone privy to the conversation is guaranteed to bring the place up. If I’m around, you’ll also get a story about Bill Murray (see the bar section below).
NOTE: This review was first published in 2011 and was updated a few times since then.
I’ve gone to Luger’s at least five times for steak, and I have to buck the trend here and say that I wasn’t super impressed with the flavor. It was yummy, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve had better.
Perhaps Peter Luger was hyped up so much by everyone as the greatest steakhouse in NY that I was expecting too much? I don’t think so, because my subsequent trips were similar. The first two times I ate a variant of the porterhouse cut, and the third time I had both the porterhouse and the rib eye.
All three times the steak was good, but not awesome. You can definitely smell and taste the dry-aged beef flavor on these steaks, but they ultimately lacked seasoning. The rib eye also contained a lot of junk gristle on it, unfortunately.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 6
You may be shocked to see that Peter Luger really only offers two cuts of beef for traditional steak eating: rib eye and porterhouse.
While both are prime grade and aged, there is no filet, and there is no strip; you simply have to get the full porterhouse if you want either of those cuts.
The porterhouse is cut into various sizes and offered as “steak for two,” “steak for three,” and so forth (you can also get a steak for one). It’s typically served pre-sliced, sizzling on a hot plate with butter. Pictured here is a steak for two.
Luger’s does offer regular daily lunch specials that showcase other types of beef products like prime rib, chopped steak, corned beef, and pot roast, however these are not available at dinner and only sometimes at lunch. They also offer lamb chops.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Luger’s doesn’t advertise the sizes of each cut, but they are definitely big enough to fill you up. Plating is standard; nothing fancy. This is a man’s place, so we are good in terms of this section. Lots of the appetizers and sides are large enough to share as well.
Prices are average. I forget what the bill came to, but I think I recall a steak for two being somewhere around the $70 to $80 mark when I first came here years back. Now it’s a bit more, obviously.
I score top points for the Peter Luger bar because, well, my friends and I met the one and only Bill Murray there one evening, hung out with him, and had drinks with him. We were on our way to an obscure party in Williamsburg when we decided to pop in Luger’s for a drink or two beforehand. The bar here is great – a long stretch of ancient but nice wood, stocked with great booze.
It’s a classy bar worked by a classy old ostler who knows every drink in the book, especially the old timey ones.
So we order our drinks and a moment later we see none other than Bill fucking Murray beside us at the bar, just sitting there with his son and a friend. Naturally we bought them a round of beers, after which Bill thanked us, talked with us, and took some photos with us. To this day I kick myself for not asking him to come with us to the party. Knowing the way he is now, hanging out with randoms, we could have been one of the first. Imagine if he said yes and we showed up to a party with Bill FUCKING Murray? Legendary.
Specials and Other Meats: 6
Luger’s is pretty basic. There’s not much by way of specials, so pick something and stick with it. As I said earlier, they do offer a decent lamb chop, but don’t go looking for anything else.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
The creamed spinach here is fantastic. Rich and smooth; it goes perfectly with the steak. It’s of the “creamless” variety.
I also tried the french fries for two, which were crispy and tasty.
We split a burger for our appetizer as well, which is a solid move at a steakhouse. The burger here is amazing, and only available at lunch until 3:45pm. Get it. Especially if you love dry aged beef.
Skip the bacon on your burger, though, because you’ll be getting that on the side as an appetizer anyway, and when you stack the bacon on top, the burger becomes too tall.
Or you can pretend to be healthy and get the wedge salad, which had the same bacon chopped up and plopped on top. We shared this salad among four people.
The sliced tomato and onion is okay. It just always seems pricey for some sliced veg on a plate. I didn’t shoot that.
Desserts are fun here, and large. Here is a slice of key lime pie, with the signature unsweetened “schlag” whipped cream.
A bowl of caramel cone ice cream:
And the chocolate fudge ice cream sundae, meant for sharing:
Seafood Selection: 6
Basically, Peter Luger offers a salmon entree and a fresh fish item which depends on the season. This is not the kind of place to order food items other than red meat. Stick with what’s good and quit being a pussy.
Luger’s has become infamous for crappy service, but the times I have gone the joint exemplified traditional great steakhouse service. Especially our last waiter, Carlos, and another guy who even offered to take a photo of us at the table.
They employ an all-male wait staff, dressed usually in formal back and white with bow ties, often older gentlemen who have been working there for many years. They are very attentive, they know their product inside and out, and they are all about the customer.
My only issue was with the reservation-making process. I got some attitude from a woman on the phone when they asked me to call back to confirm my reservation. Not that big of a deal.
Food comes out quickly because it’s prepared quickly. Screaming hot ovens blast the meat with flames at upwards of 700 degrees, so the meal is ready fast. That’s a good thing.
The bread basket of onion rolls and various other items is massive, and you get it with a gravy dish of their steak sauce.
A traditional steakhouse, Peter Luger sets what can almost be considered the industry standard of steak eating environs. It features old wood floors that creak under foot throughout, dark wainscoting on the lower parts of the walls, and wood tables that have survived the test of time. If you’ve never gone to a steakhouse before, go here first so you get the full effect of what it means to eat at a steakhouse.
Brooklyn, NY 11211