On Tuesday, New York Times food critic Pete Wells unleashed his wrath upon the food world. Peter Luger Steakhouse, which opened in South Williamsburg in 1887 and which has a sibling restaurant in Great Neck, received zero stars from the newspaper that makes and breaks restaurants.
If you haven’t read the review yet, here’s a brief summary of the buzz that has captivated the New York restaurant scene. Wells, who has held his current position as the newspaper’s restaurant critic since 2011, took issue with several components of the Luger experience. It was, for one, excessively overpriced (a porterhouse for four, one of the more traditional orders, costs over $200). The restaurant, which was, for many years, a cash-only operation, now accepts debit cards—but not credit cards. Steaks—and burgers, which are only available on the restaurant’s lunch menu—were unevenly cooked. Those steaks, he said, also lacked flavor.
The lines are long at Luger. Wells likened them to the lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles (noting that the latter is friendlier). The servers are gruff (that has always been the case, actually). The shrimp cocktail and steak sauce are unappetizing (here, he says, this is actually consistent with tradition).
For a well-rounded perspective of the menu, Wells ordered the sole, which, he said, was “dry and almost powdery.” Fries were “mealy,” German potatoes “mushy, dingy, gray, and sometimes cold,” and a Caesar salad “drippy.” Wells found no solace, even, in the meal’s coda, which is always the same at Luger: chocolate coins, delivered at the table with the check. For Pete Wells, Peter Luger is dead on arrival, a steakhouse from a time that has decidedly passed.
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