Many of us tri-state area Jews have fond memories of summer camp. We're shipped off into the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania to learn how to fend for ourselves. Being peer pressured into pulling pranks, lighting firecrackers, smoking weed, and of course, going on bunk raids to steal all the girl's bras and proudly display for the world to see. Indian Head Camp provided me with plenty of firsts, most of which involved an education in the female anatomy. In between over the shirt boobie grabs and quick, awkward saliva exchanges, there was one particular first I'll never forget. My first exposure to Peter Luger's steak sauce. That's right. Luger's sauce.
One summer, I was assigned a little brother to mentor for what was called "Dream Week". Turned out, this kid was completely and utterly obsessed with Peter Luger's and their steak sauce. Most kids roll to camp with a sleeping bag and a couple of fresh packs of Hanes, this fat little 8-year-old came with steak sauce. Tons of it. He had special permission to keep a huge bin under his bed and bring it to the dining hall to dump on whatever was in front of him. Cheerios and Luger's sauce? Let's rock. I owe this little dude much gratitude. It's because of him I came home that summer asking about Peter Luger's. From that summer on, Peter Luger became a fixture in the Steinthal family rotation.
There are plenty of other steakhouses you can go to for a better all around meal. It's simple and easy here: bacon, steak, dessert and off to bed. The service is gruff and cold. The food comes quickly - it's no secret that they're rushing you along to make room for the next hungry family. Also, it's cash only. Deal with it. That's the drill at Luger's. It's been this way for 120 years and is precisely why it's so awesome. A small price to pay for (arguably) the best bite of steak you'll ever eat in your life.
It's a shame Kosher diners will never get a chance to sample pig this lard-tastic. I feel bad...it's just so good. Do not even consider skipping out because you think you're fat.
I look to my sister for guidance on shrimp cocktail - she pretty much orders it at everywhere. Last time we were here, she had to overcome a big smile and and a near panic attack to fully conquer these huge oxymorons. That's a good sign.
Ordering steak at Luger's is pretty simple. Porterhouse all around, for as many people as you have eating. It arrives at your table in a pool of bloody goodness, already sliced up with the filet on one side, the sirloin on the other. One fault that Luger's has is that they don't always use the same meat distributor. They're all over the place in terms of where they get their meat and that results in occasional inconsistency. On most nights though, this is the best steak in New York City.
Only available at lunch, this burger is wildly inconsistent. They have a tendency to overcook, which seems to happen a lot at places that don't specialize in burgers. Also, the bun is a bit much and if you don't have the proper beef juices to soak that sh*t up, it's too overwhelming. Here's the bottom line - when this burger is perfectly executed, it's amazing. When it's not, it's average at best.
Both are very good, neither anywhere near the level of the steak. The french fried potatoes are a nice size - not too thin and not too thick. The o-rings are great - they're in between the thick cut rings and the frizzled onion strings you generally see at steakhouses.
Everyone gets Luger's custom milk chocolate gold coins with the check, and if you're with a big group you're rewarded with a big bowl of homemade whipped cream to dunk them in. You can't beat that. Little known fact: The coins are made by NYC's most excellent chocolate novelties company, Madelaine Chocolate. To put it lightly, we have a lot of love for Madelaine.