“Are you kidding me!? We’re gonna get robbed or shot or raped,” came the reply from my friend when I suggested we go to Brooklyn. “Dude we’re going to Park Slope,” I replied, the land of brownstones, baby strollers and doggies. For some of my Manhattan dwelling friends, crossing over into Brooklyn just isn’t an option. And that’s a shame because they’re missing out. My love affair with Brooklyn started when I moved into Hom’s apartment. It was three times the size of the shoebox that I was residing in, in the financial district, yet it was a third of the rent. It felt like a home. But best of all it also came with two amazing roommates. Then there were the weekly trips to Prospect Park for rugby and Monica’s awesome beginner’s soccer league. Nights at Bembe in Williamsburg for amazing world music and dancing coupled with the great (and cheap) caipirinhas and rum punches (those made with guava and not the watermelon.) There was Angie from the big grocery store near the Myrtle Ave subway stop whose smile could always brighten up my day. I remember being astounded by the barber near my apartment who had so much more skill and dedication yet charged a fraction of the price of the Manhattan hairdressers, which some of them didn’t even use scissors. (That will be $40 please. What!?) There was just something about Brooklyn and it’s people that I could empathize with and it endeared me to them and the place they called their home.
So when Mahnaz, one of my closest friends whom I’ve known since college, asked me where I would like to go to eat on my last weekend in New York, I suggested Luger’s. I wanted to have that steak again, one last time before I departed. But I also wanted to try their burger and Schlag, (I love that word!) which is the German version of whipped cream.
I had the bacon again, it was excellent, no surprise there. But this time I noticed that some of the diner’s were having these ginormous slices of tomato and onion. (For $11! Wow.) I mean these were like mutant veggies, absolutely huge. You apparently ate them with the steak sauce. I could see the appeal of such huge veggies but you’re at a meat house, besides the creamed spinach there should be no consumption of vegetables. Don’t be a pussy, order the bacon.
As we waited for our mains to come, I noticed a father and his young son a few tables away. They had the porterhouse and the father was teaching his son what I guess was a family tradition, probably taught to him by his father. He demonstrated to his son by taking a piece of meat and swishing it in the juices and butter that had pooled at the bottom of the plate. Then he pressed the meat on the hot outer edge of the plate, resulting in a satisfying sizzle. The son followed. I couldn’t help but smile at that touching moment. I hoped that I could one day replicate that scene.
I split a rib steak and a Luger burger, both done medium with Mahnaz. I know I know, the only way to eat is medium rare. But she was a well-done kinda gal. Sad, but she was already compromising on something that she rarely does. For that I’m grateful. The steak like the bacon was excellent. I’ve had been on the prowl for the best burger in the city. I had been to Shake Shack countless times and Burger Joint as well. But now, in my last week in New York, I found my favorite burger. The burger, which you can only get at lunch, comes bare, a sesame seed bun and Muenster cheese. On its own, it’s rather pedestrian, but when combined with the thick and juicy half-pound patty made with trimmings from their superb well-marbled steaks, it was amazing. The intense and defined flavor of the dry-aged beef translated into their burgers. This was now the burger in which I would compare other burgers to.
I didn’t really talk about the Luger steak sauce in the last post, but it plays an integral, if understated role. You have to realize that when you are eating half a cow, you need something that acts as a foil to all that bovine goodness or you risk beefy burnout. And the Luger sauce is perfect for that. It tastes like a sweet, tangy cocktail sauce without the bite of horseradish and it cuts through the fat and meatiness of the huge rib steaks. Now there’s a trick to it. Cows don’t swim, so don’t drown your meat in it. You don’t want to overpower that dry-aged goodness. A small dab is all that is needed on a piece of meat. The sauce is also fantastic on the Luger burger and it’s one of two reasons why I love this burger.
Next came the schlag with a side of cheesecake. If it were up to me I’d just order the schlag and skip the cheesecake, which was good but nothing spectacular. But the schlag, oh man it was good. It’s like a cross between whipped cream and butter. It reminded me of the sublime clotted cream I had for tea at the Ritz in London, only fluffier. Come to think of it, I was with the same person here at Luger’s that I was with at the Ritz.
After my schlag I was satisfied. I leaned back on my chair. The bottom of my palms slid across the unnaturally smooth wooden table. I love and would miss this place. It was, after all in my neighborhood. I passed it everyday on my way to work on the JMZ to Broad Street and it greeted me every night when I came home. I had some damn fine memories here in Brooklyn and some damn fine steaks too.
Read part one here.
Peter Luger Steak House
Brooklyn, New York 11211
(718 ) 387-7400
Call a week ahead for dinner. Better chances of getting a reservation at lunch.
Lunch (that means burgers) served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Dinner available after till 9:45 p.m. Monday though Thursday, till 10:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. (Information from the New York Times)
Bacon, $2.95. Burger, $7.95. With cheese, $1.50 extra. Steak for two, $83.90. For three, $125.85. For four, $167.80. Rib Steak, $38.95. Creamed Spinach for two, $8.95. Luger’s Special German Fried Potatoes for two, $10.95. Desserts, $8.95. CASH ONLY
For all its tradition, the atmosphere at Luger’s is pretty casual. It looks like a Bavarian beer hall. Don’t expect white linen here. Dress accordingly.