Friday, March 13, 2009
Peter Luger Steakhouse - Over-hyped, Overpriced and Underwelmed
Peter Luger Steakhouse - 225 Northern Blvd, Great Neck NY 11021
As mentioned, Dan's 30th birthday extravaganza extended through the weekend. And at the conclusion of it, we found ourselves at the legendary Peter Luger Steakhouse in Great Neck, Long Island. Although it wasn't the original location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, we thought it would still promise an unprecedented experience.
While the birthday boy couldn't be happier, I wasn't impressed and wouldn't return again. Here's why...
Located on the border of Queens and Long Island, Peter Luger is situated in Great Neck, NY a nice town that doesn't exactly feel like suburbia and is easy to get to for both Queens residents and Long Islanders.
From first glance you could tell that Luger's is traditional. The outside is white with wooden moldings and old-school lanterns, while the inside is embellished with more wood accents. The feel is almost gothic with the many lanterns, chandeliers and large oil paintings. The prevailing aura is warm and cozy and I could see Luger's being a nice venue to celebrate the winter holidays.
There are plenty of large tables for big groups, as it seems to be the norm when dining here.
My expectations were super high in this area and I'm sad to report that I was underwhelmed. While there wasn't anything explicitly wrong with the food, it was just unexciting and plain.
Sliced Tomatoes and Onion - Although the description of this dish was simple, I was expecting something less ordinary than what came out on the plate. We were literally served large beef-steak tomatoes with sliced raw onions. I didn't understand why this even existed on the menu and why they charged $12 for it. What a rip-off! The tomatoes and onions were good but who couldn't just slice this up on a plate at home. One benefit was that when dressed with Peter Luger's own steak sauce, it brought all sorts of delicious flavors out of the tomatoes and onions.
Caesar Salad - Now this was a well done starter. All ingredients were wonderfully fresh, the dressing was creamy and tangy and the parmesan cheese on top was the piece-de-resistance--thick, flavorful and absolutely addicting.
Steak for Eight - We actually ordered steak for seven because there was a lot of meat served with this portion. Half the table got medium and the other half got medium-rare. I preferred the medium--don't care if it's un-foodie like--but I thought that the medium-rare tasted too raw. The flavors settled nicely in the medium cut and I liked the char on the outside. But steak texture is a very personal thing so naturally, some of my dining companions disagreed with me.
The Sides - This is my favorite part of any steak dinner, more so than the actual steak. Our sides included creamed spinach, Luger's special German fried potatoes and onion rings. I liked the potatoes best because they reminded me of what my dad makes at home. They were slightly well done and interlaced with caramelized onions. The creamed spinach was a close second, as it was gentle on the palate and so luxurious too. I didn't care for the onions rings at all and thought they were too greasy. Nothing compares to the gargantuan, cake-like batter onion rings at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Luger's version didn't stand a chance.
Dessert - Dan and I ordered the "Holy Cow" Hot Fudge Sunday, which was impressive-looking but tasted just OK. The chocolate sauce was flavorless but the homemade whipped cream was good, there was just too much of it. The other side of the table ordered key lime pie--it was very good, and I especially liked the homemade crust. Again, they overdid it on the whipped cream.
Service and Cost:
The service was superior and one of the best I've ever witnessed. The waiters are all older, experienced men who know their steak and who don't mess around. Their attitude is friendly and warm but straightforward - no bull. It was nice that they not only cut our steak for us but also placed it carefully on our plates. The same was done with the sides and although we didn't always see our waiter, he was paying close attention to everything, refilling our glasses when needed or wrapping up a dish to take home. Overall, the service was excellent and felt like family.
The prices at Luger's are exorbitant and not worth spending. Steak for seven cost us a whopping $298, while the sides ranged from $8.95 - $11.95 and dessert was $9 each. Needless to say, the whole dinner cost a small fortune.