Updated: Sep 20, 2019
A few key things to know about Peter Luger first:
1) Book at least a month ahead for seats during an ideal dinner time i.e. 7:30pm. I booked 2 weeks earlier and still only got seats for 3 at 8:45pm. We didn't receive any booking reminders or confirmation calls from the restaurant closer to the date of the reservation, as I'm used to restaurants doing these days.
2) Peter Luger only accepts cash as a form of payment. Good thing we were already planning on paying for all of our meals in cash during this trip. Just so you know, we did spot an ATM machine just outside the restaurant, which we surmised as much was for guests who encountered the cash-only issue on the day.
3) Even with a reservation, expect to wait at least 15 minutes at the bar area to actually get seated.
4) The original Peter Luger Steakhouse is the one in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Go there. It's only bookable by phone, no exceptions.
So now you know! Now onto the experience. So I arrived at Peter Luger totally jet lagged, sleep-deprived and somehow still hungover (yes at 9pm) from the night before. But the prospect of the storied steak kept me awake and excited all the way from my midtown hotel to the nondescript neighbourhood in Brooklyn where Peter Luger is located. As mentioned earlier, we waited around 15 minutes after the hostess ticked off our name from the jumble of near-illegible handwritten bookings that I have no idea how they even make sense of.
Anyway, we finally got seated and I was already in love with the vibe. Very down-to-earth and rustic, not too dimly lit, and in no way pretentious. The servers were the same way, as they told the menu like it was and didn't fluff around with niceties. The menu is straightforward, as the main focus is obviously the steak. While it doesn't specify what you're getting in a quantifiable amount (simply "Steak for 1", "Steak for 2", "Steak for 3", and so on), it's almost like the restaurant expects you to have done your research on the kind of steak they serve so they don't really have to explain. Did we even specify a temperature?! In any case, it arrived as perfectly medium rare.
They are famous for serving dry-aged USDA prime beef, and the "Steak" is a porterhouse cut from the short loin. Both New York Strip and Filet cuts can be enjoyed, with a T bone running down the centre of the juicy meat. The steak itself was phenomenal, with the most incredible broiler char on the outside and juicy, smoky insides. The flavours were spot on, but the texture was more on the tough, chewy side - something my mom definitely did not appreciate. This was the hearty, massive and delicious New York steak I'd been craving though, and it did not disappoint.
So seeing as the focus was steak, the sides tasted average at best - not that we got many sides. The steak sauce pictured above was not even necessary for my steak as it was already bursting with flavours - not to mention swimming in a delicious gravy of its own juices and butter that I simply slathered all over. The steak sauce tasted slightly sweet and very strong, kind of like Worcestershire sauce and something else, and I wasn't the biggest fan. I had heard to eat it with the tomatoes (pictured below), but the result was very average.
I'm probably just spoiled with the quality Japanese tomatoes we import specially at home, because I thought the tomatoes here tasted pretty bland despite how big and ripe they were. This detail obviously wouldn't fly at a restaurant that boasted the best of all worlds, but to be honest, I was totally okay with overpriced meh tomatoes so long as the main attraction (steak) was delicious. And that it was!
Peter Luger Steakhouse
Tel - +1 718-387-7400
Address - 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA
Opening Hours - Monday-Thursday 11:45am-9:45pm, Friday-Saturday 11:45-10:45pm, Sunday 12:45pm-9:45pm