Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Luger Loses a Star in the NY Times

Frank Bruni demotes the venerable Peter Luger Steakhouse to two stars in today's NY Times. He echoes much of what I other critics have been saying for months about Luger and the deluge of clones. Back in July in a review of Craftsteak I noted the following:

"I will admit that I am more than a little tired of Peter Luger replicas, often replete with "former Luger staffers." I expect the Peter Luger dishwasher to open a steakhouse any day now, or perhaps it will be the ruddy faced gentlemen who watches the garage." Link

Bruni today:

"One after another, Luger clones have opened, operated by former Luger cooks or managers or waiters, all of whom trumpet their association with it, all of whom appropriate its traditions. Any day now I expect a news release announcing that a Con Ed worker who checked Luger’s meter is starting a steakhouse." Link

Bruin's claims of inconsistent food and dismissive service at Luger are not off the mark. I have long complained about the kitchens inability to cook a proper black and blue steak correctly, but even more traditional temperatures are hit and miss. A rare steak will come out closer to medium while a medium will come out raw. And the service can be equally patchy, sometimes charmingly kitschy but more often than not it is curt and indifferent. Bruni poses an interesting question:

"Has Luger grown tired of us? Or have some of us just grown tired of it?"

Has the gruff steakhouse waiter shtick finally worn too thin? Does having a spluttering plate of prime thrown at us while our other requests go ignored rather than the effusive doting service we get at the noveau steakhouses make Luger seem somewhat passe? Luger will continue to thrive. of that I am sure, but if it does not adapt to the realities of a world filled with its clones it will no longer remain the gold standard for steakhouses.

NY Times Review

Peter Luger Steakhouse
178 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY

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