>> 2/13/12

178 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 387-7400

There are few New York City restaurants as well-known as the steakhouse Peter Luger. The name itself is synonymous with steak; synonymous with tradition. They do steak, the steak is a porterhouse, they do it their way, and you shut your damn mouth and like it. Peter Luger doesn't even cook the steak to your liking unless your liking is rare to medium rare. No discussion. You want medium, they serve it rare anyway on a plate so hot you can keep cooking it right there at the table. You want it well done, leave and go waste your money at Outback.

Walking inside is like stepping back in time to 1978 when all the waiters at a place like this were men, all the diners at a place like this were men, both of them were old, both of them were fat, and both of them drove Cadillac Fleetwood Broughams. "You can almost see the cigar smoke that should be filling the room," Pike thought out loud while we ate dinner. The walls are plain with wood paneling. It's simple. No flair. No style. No sex appeal whatsoever and just in case you had thoughts about cutting the decor some slack, they leave the sugar and Sweet N Low packets in a cup on the table like a cheapo diner would. Luger's is like a German steinhaus without the steins. About the only thing that does decorate anything is a CPR poster in the corner and thirty years worth of glowing Zagat reviews on wood plaques. 

If Luger's opened today, they'd be laughed out of business so fast, it would make your head spin. But they didn't open today, they opened 125 years ago. One hundred and twenty five years ago. To put that in perspective, Luger's opened before your grandparents were even a figment of an imagination in your great grandparents' heads. You don't last that long and get that famous by serving crap.

Pike and I arrived for an early dinner to avoid needing reservations. I recommend you do this too. I had read that some people recommend making a reservation six to eight weeks in advance. To hell with that. Early dinner = get seated right away.

Pike is, to put it mildly, a Peter Luger fan. We didn't really discuss what we'd order so much as he told me. "We're getting this and this and this. And if you want to get that too, fine." While we waited for our waiter to return, we snacked on some seriously delicious onion bread. To start, we ordered the Luger's Sizzling Bacon. You order it by the slice, since it's a half an inch thick, and we got two. It was fantastic. I love thick bacon, tender with some burn, and just the right amount of fat. This was exactly what bacon should be. It's the closest I've come to what they serve at Char No. 4 in Cobble Hill since the last time I went to Cobble Hill. And that's the bacon I have fantasies about. We also split an order of Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, which, while good, was basically just shrimp cocktail. Just much bigger.

We ordered the Steak for Two, a medium rare porterhouse two inches thick that comes pre-sliced and soaking in a quarter-inch-deep lake of butter. As I mentioned, if you want the steak more well done, the plate it's served on is so hot that leaving a piece on the lip will cook it further. The inside is cool but the seared crust is hot and thick and is the only reason that the meat doesn't melt in your mouth the instant it hits your tongue. This is some seriously good cow. Is it $90 worth of good? Ummm... Well, Pike definitely thinks so. I'm less convinced that I'd run out again any time soon to shell out that kind of cash, but there is no doubt that I'm wishing I had a piece of it right now typing this. We also ordered the French Fries for Two, which was way way too much and the Creamed Spinach, which was supposed to be for two but they give you surprisingly little. Interestingly, I liked the fries but felt that I could have skipped the creamed spinach. Far too salty in my book. But Pike dismissed the fries as mediocre and just about fainted with joy eating the spinach.

Normally, when a waiter tells me that the restaurant serves the best whatever, I take it with a grain of salt. But in this case, when I ordered the waiter-recommended New York Cheesecake, he was right on the money. It was so smooth, so creamy, so perfect that Peter Luger's cheesecake might just in fact be the best in the city. Pike ordered the Chocolate Mousse. We both thought that it was good, but so rich and sweet that I nearly went into diabetic shock when I stole a bite. The desserts are served with a homemade whipped cream so thick that it was like eating a Tempur-pedic mattress. And they don't give you a little dollop of it on the side; it covers half the plate. The dessert rivaled the steak and it might be worth going to Luger's for that alone.

The diet cokes, appetizers, sides, steak, coffees, and dessert (no wine, cocktails, or beer) plus tax and tip was $240. Order any real drinks and you'll easily, easily, easily break $300.

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