Long before Brooklyn was chic, even the snobbiest Manhattanites flocked to Peter Luger's, which fired up its grill for the first time in 1887. Other steak houses have more elegant ambience, bigger wine lists, and less brusque service, but the meat here makes the trip undeniably worth it. Three tips: bring a meat-eating buddy or several (individual steaks are available, but porterhouse is served only for two, three, or four), make a reservation (prime slots fill up more than a month in advance), and bring lots of cash—Luger's doesn't take plastic. The lunch-only burger is beloved among locals, as is the bacon appetizer, available by the slice.
Mar 15, 2013
My spouse and I dined at Peter Luger for Sunday lunch in early March 2013. We made the reservation via telephone (they do not accept online reservations) about 30 days in advance. We waited on hold for about 10 minutes before someone answered the phone, despite listening to a message replay over and over about how they valued our business, and despite the fact that we called on a weekday mid-morning, long before lunchtime. Our reservation was
for 12:45 pm, which is opening time on a Sunday. Parking is complimentary in a vacant lot on the next block (and across the street) from the restaurant; however, the lot was locked and unmanned until just prior to the doors opening at 12:45 pm. They do not offer valet parking, but you can stop your car in front of the restaurant and unload guests, if necessary. (We found free parking on the street, because it was Sunday.) We (along with about 20 other diners) were made to wait on the sidewalk until precisely 12:45 pm, when we were admitted to the bar area. Each group lined up to give their name to the man with the clipboard, then we were made to wait another 15 minutes (all of us) in the bar area until they were ready to start seating people. The dining rooms have a beer-hall feel, with wooden floors, tables, and chairs; coat hooks adjacent to each table around the perimeter hold your belongings. (We are not sure where the tables in the center of the room hang their coats.) Despite the half-hour wait, we finished our meal in just over an hour, all for the grand total of $200 (including tip, but with only one beer and no other alcohol or wine). The menu is rather limited; we expected to see various cuts of steak listed, but saw only “sirloin” and “steak for two/three/four”; we are not sure whether we ate rib eye or Porterhouse or something else. (There was no filet mignon on the menu.) Disappointingly, the steak for two (at $99.95) was NOT the best steak we have ever eaten; when it arrived at our table, the steak was already cut in sections (reminiscent of a London broil). The waiter tipped the plate so that the fat drippings would pour to one end of the platter, but after he served each of us a few slices, he spooned the liquid fat on top of those slices. The German potatoes that we ordered as a side were dry and crumbled. We enjoyed the thickly-cut bacon slices that we added to our tomato and onion salad topped with their house made steak sauce/dressing. The service was sloppy and gruff (as previously reported by other diners/reviews). When our waiter served us our steak, the fat dripped onto the stained and scarred wood (tablecloth-less) table as if it were a regular occurrence and completely normal; the only thing that could have been worse with the atmosphere and service would have been using a paper napkin and plastic cutlery. The bread basket was fairly tasty, with three different kinds of rolls (two of each kind). When we asked to take home our leftovers, they were dumped into two plastic bags (at least they put the steak and the potatoes into separate bags), which was kind of gross! (In trying to salvage the great deal of money that we spend on our meal, we thought that we could at least salvage the potatoes by covering them with eggs and serving them along with a side of leftover steak and a roll for a late-night snack.) The restaurant accepts cash, debit cards, personal checks, and the Peter Luger credit card (who would want to eat there so often that they would apply for a card?). We are glad that we can cross Peter Luger off our "places that we want to eat" list, but we felt that it was overpriced for the quality and atmosphere. We cannot understand what all the fuss is about!