A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (UPDATED 2/10/10 with 2nd trip!)
***UPDATE 02/10/10 on Page 3***
Howdy fellow Roadfooders!! I just capped off a 22-stop burger study of New York City with a late lunch at Peter Luger's
in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I'll put up the report soon enough, but I had such a wonderful experience today that I wanted to post it while it's still fresh in my mind. I'd had the burger at this place in my sights for some time now thanks to the good things I have heard about it from my girlfriend's family and from The Travelin' Man.
Getting here for the burger was easier than I had anticipated. You see, they only offer the burger on their lunch menu until
. (UPDATED 04/18/13 - the Luger Burger is available until 3:45pm!!)
I work in NJ 9 to 5, Mon-Fri, but since my company is moving to a new city, I had a half day today so, one bus ride and 3 different subway trains later, I was just a 5 minute walk away. Peering into the windows, they had a good crowd at 2:00pm.
Doing what they do best (beef) for 122 years.
I walked in with plenty of cash on me (no checks or credit cards accepted, unless you have a Peter Luger's Card) and made my way to the maitre'd. She asked where I would like to sit and I replied that I'd be happy with a seat at the bar if that was okay. She was very nice and I snagged a spot at the end of the bar closest to the door, away from most of the people. I had the camera in hand and wanted to snap lots of pics without being intrusive. My brilliant plan was coming together nicely! The waiter asked me what I would like and I ordered a burger with bacon and cheese, cooked medium. I couldn't believe it when he started me out with a basket of their crusty, chewy rolls and a boat their their steakhouse sauce! The onion roll and the salt-caraway encrusted bread stick were just heavenly and made even better by spooning some sauce over them. I never made it to the third roll after they brought out my burger.
I didn't like this sauce the first time I came here and now I know why. It's a "steakhouse" sauce, not a "steak" sauce. It really is meant for the tomato and onion salad, but can also be used for the bread, bacon and yes, the steak. It's a bit sweet and has horseradish in it and definitely tastes like a "kissing cousin" to cocktail sauce.
I ordered a Diet Coke and I like that the bartender gave me the bottle to pour in as I pleased. Not a syrupy sweet, weaker version from a fountain, but just opened with good carbonation. And I've always loved soda better from a glass bottle from some reason. He saw me taking pictures and I explained my burger tour to him and we ended up having a really great conversation about the best burgers in the city. He ended up showing me a weblink on his IPhone for a website called Burger of the Month, where a group of people in NYC get together each month to find the best burgers in the five boroughs.
After about 5-10 minutes more, the waiter came out with my burger. I was getting a good feeling from the way this looked. First, I thought the bacon really would be the kind that most burgers have on them. Nope! Theirs is a slice of their famous bacon which is as thick as a ham steak, chewy, meaty, porky and has been given a great crustiness from being grilled. Their incredible fries strike a perfect balance of a crispy exterior and creamy interior and taste like potato more than any other fry I have ever eaten! The star here, though, is this burger, which after some thought, I've decided to call the 2004 World Series Burger, because it blows away the competition, no contest! Honestly, I toyed with naming it the 1927 Yankees Burger, but being a Red Sox fan I just couldn't do it. The little plastic cow in the bun that says "MEDIUM" was a nice touch that I don't see much these days.
A nice close-up shot of my burger.
I'm sooooo glad that I cut this open and took this shot as it encapsulates precisely what I love about this burger. This is quite possibly the best burger I have ever had in my life. Every single element came together and made sense here. First, the bun is substantial enough to hold up against a very juicy burger, yet soft enough not to get in the way or overwhelm. Second, the cheese was two slices of standard yellow American cheese, which lent a nice creaminess and smooth flavor that complemented the meat very nicely. And third, the meat was everything I could ever hope for: loosely packed, but not crumbly, just the right amount of pink, seasoned just so the flavor of the beef really came out, a nice char from the grill and incredibly juicy. The first sign of burger greatness was when I pressed down on the bun to cut it in half and juices ran out of the meat. Further evidence was provided by the trail of beef juice running down my fingers when I took my first bite. This was one of those foods that actually got better with each subsequent bite. The bartender put a bottle of ketchup on the bar for me and let me tell you friends, that top never came off nor did I even consider it. To do so would have been akin to burger blasphemy!
I had the bar to myself for the most part, but around the time I had finished half of my burger, a couple had walked in with a friend of theirs and sat down at the bar next to me. It turns out that the husband (Tony) and the friend grew up in Brooklyn and had been coming to Luger's since they were kids. He and his wife were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and their friend's birthday, so it was a no-brainer, martinis, tawny port and steaks at Peter Luger's. They said they live in South Carolina now, but were welcomed back by the staff like old friends. The bartender told them about my burger study and we ended up talking at length about New York City, Boston, sports and of course, food! We ended up having quite a few laughs and were all in agreement that money isn't so much the object as long as we are happy with the meal and the experience that we have when we eat out at a restaurant. As I went to pay my bill, I said goodbye to my bar companions and stuck out my hand to shake Tony's hand. He got up from his bar stool and said "I gotta give ya a hug!". I ended up hugging all of them as I made my way out into the chilly, windy New York City afternoon, flipping my gold chocolate coin as I smiled and thought "Yes, time and money well spent, indeed".
Below, the gold chocolate coin that comes as standard issue with the check at Luger's. A nice touch and a perfect end to a great meal. Ellen, I don't know if you've been here yet, but run, don't walk for this burger! To Stephen Rushmore and Chris Ayers, this may give R.F. O'Sullivan's a run for the title!
post edited by billyboy - 2013/04/18 15:47:33