It was eleven years ago that I first experienced Peter Luger. A memorable late lunch on a weekend. At the time I described that experience as "one of the better if not the best experiences at a steakhouse that I've ever had." Indeed, Luger became the high water mark to which all other steakhouses should aspire.
Since then I've aged, fatted, and taken several trips across the Williamsburg Bridge, mostly for boozy, manly affairs pre-show or pre-debauchery. I've also eaten a fucklot of very good steak. It comes as no surprise that my recent lunch was certainly not the transformative experience that the first was, but it was quite good.
What hasn't changed too much is the food and good service.
We went with a somewhat standard order. Bacon to start, steak for two, a burger, creamed spinach, and onion rings (a new addition to the menu IINM).
I should note that the basket of rolls was pathetic (those onion rolls used to be pretty good...not sure what happened there).
The bacon was a glorious mass of pork, salt and fat. But let's face it: it's just bacon. This isn't "Canadian bacon" (an actual thing) regardless of the menu claims. It's cut from the belly, cured, smoked, and delicious. It's also twice the price that it was in 2004. Ah, I see they've changed the menu to read "Luger's sizzling bacon." Score one for not spreading ignorance.
The creamed spinach was exactly what you'd want. Although I don't think they use any cream it in. Just butter.
The onion rings are of the lightly-battered thinly-sliced variety, and were universally enjoyed by all three people occupying our universe.
Steak for two (now $100, as opposed to the 80 or so that it was in 2004), which of course is their porterhouse--the cut for which they are known--was cooked to m/r as ordered, and served in that wonderful sauce of dry-aged beef tallow and clarified butter. Served on a piping hot plate that is hotter than the steak itself. A great salty crust, and just barely warm in the center. This steak remains the benchmark for this style of steak, for me.
More impressive than the steak is the burger. The burger is served only at lunch, used to be about 6 bucks, and is also now quite a bit more ($14?). But it remains one of the best burgers in the city/world, and is a great value. Served with raw sliced onion with the option of pedestrian American cheese, this burger reeks of dry-aged beef. A bit overdone in this case, but this mattered not. You can suck the juice out of the damned thing as you're biting it. It remains tops in my book.
I think everyone gets schlag after the meal, along with some chocolate coins. The server bestowed my MIL with about 15 of those chocolate coins, which I thought was a nice gesture. The service, overall, was quite good, as I've come to expect from Luger.
Parking on the weekend seemed relatively easy. I'd say if you're going for a noon lunch, get there by 11.45 when they open the doors. On this day, there was a line up the block of both walk-ins and reservations, and the place filled up pretty well.
Peter Luger is certainly worth a trip to Williamsburg (as is much of Williamsburg worth a trip to Williamsburg). Just avoid Manhattan, as the traffic was soul-crushing.
Peter Luger Steak House : 178 Broadway : Brooklyn, NY : 718.387.7400