A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (UPDATED 2/10/10 with 2nd trip!)

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billyboy
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2009/11/13 20:05:23 (permalink)

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 3pm(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
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    firecommander3565
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 20:12:50 (permalink)
    Nice burger pic's. Some of the best on this website .
    #2
    EatingTheRoad
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 20:18:54 (permalink)
    That's a fantastic write-up! I loved every word and picture. This is too funny:

    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 I just couldn't do it.


    Only thing....$3 for bacon?!? Not that I blame you though, $17 for that experience is clearly worth it.
    #3
    HDtravlr1
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 20:26:03 (permalink)
    Excellent report! The burger looks delicious. Hope to try it someday.

    Thanks!

    #4
    billyboy
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 20:45:04 (permalink)
    Thanks!  

    ETR - Forget any preconceived bacon notions you may have of cheap supermarket varieties, this bacon is totally worth the $3 and has to be eaten to be believed!
    #5
    Ahi Mpls.
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 21:05:59 (permalink)
    Thanks for my new screensaver picture!  I like that the bacon came on the side, some for the burger, some for nibblin'    Is it the same as an appetizer of bacon?      Hurry with the Burger Report.... I can't wait!!!!!!!
    #6
    Greymo
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 21:12:02 (permalink)
    Loved your report.  I have  been to  Lugers for lunch twice  and  have to say that  it cannot be beat.  The one at 21'  Club is also   "a special experience"  but  the ambiance at  Peter  Luger makes their  the real winner!  (And  that bacon is worth  every penny.............we have gotten a double order of it  both times that we have gone for dinner"
    #7
    plb
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 21:16:04 (permalink)
    Did they charge you for the Coke (it is not shown on the bill)?
    #8
    sk bob
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 21:26:03 (permalink)
    real good billyboy.
    #9
    ces1948
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 21:35:07 (permalink)
    billyboy

    Thanks!  

    ETR - Forget any preconceived bacon notions you may have of cheap supermarket varieties, this bacon is totally worth the $3 and has to be eaten to be believed!


    You know I thought from that picture of your bill the $2.95 was for your soda. Was the soda included? Also how many ounces would say the burger weighed?
    #10
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 21:36:31 (permalink)
    Very, very nice. Thanks.
    #11
    CCinNJ
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 21:48:01 (permalink)
    A bartender served the drink...
    #12
    leethebard
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 22:03:19 (permalink)
    Is the sauce at the restaurant identical  to the commercial "Luger"stuff sold at super markets?
    #13
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 22:11:41 (permalink)
    Yeah, I was kinda surprised it wasn't more.  That's a gorgeous looking burger billy--juices dripping into the bun, the meat looks extremely fresh, and I really agree about American cheese, I don't think you can improve upon it if your meat tastes really good.  Thanks for taking us along.
    #14
    billyboy
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 22:12:53 (permalink)
    The Diet Coke was $2.50 on a separate bar bill. I'm not sure how much the burger weighed but it was substantial and I definitely took my time eating it.  One of the few meals I've eaten where I consciously thought, "I want to savor every single bite of this and I don't want to miss a thing".  The look, smell, flavor, texture and feel of it was everything I had hoped a burger could be.  
     
    Lee, I asked the bartender about the sauce and he said that it is the same as the bottled sauce in the stores.  People do put it on the steak and burgers some times, but most of them use it for the tomato & onion salad and spoon some on their bread too.  
    post edited by billyboy - 2010/10/23 10:19:14
    #15
    TJ Jackson
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 22:16:43 (permalink)
    Was one of your burgers had at Minetta Tavern?
    #16
    leethebard
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 22:17:18 (permalink)
    Thanks,billyboy...well,I have bought that..it's too sweet for me...and I rarely use sauce on a great steak or burger...but it would be fine on a salad...and that burger sure did look like it should be savored!!
    #17
    billyboy
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 22:36:37 (permalink)
    Your welcome, Nancy.  Totally worth the money and I would gladly hand over the same amount again for that burger.  I was just looking at the Menupages.com site for NYC and the basic Luger Burger is over 1/2 lb and runs $8.95.  Cheese is $1.50 extra and fries are $1.95 extra.  I knew that going in and still had my heart set on it and was so glad I didn't change my mind.  

    TJ, initially I came up with a list of over 50 burger places in NYC and that was just too daunting to even tackle, so I narrowed it down to places I had been to before I wanted to see how they held up, personal recommendations from friends and checking out reviews and recs online (Yelp, Menupages and here on Roadfood).  Minetta was on my short list and I did a bit of recon one day in the Village (it's in a really vibrant, fun neighborhood) but I never got around to it.  Have you tried it?
    #18
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 22:51:09 (permalink)
    Now I'm really excited for your burger report.  Yay us!
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    ken8038
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/13 22:57:31 (permalink)
    Billyboy, this may be your best report yet! What a great afternoon you had. It's really great to spend an weekday afternoon at a bar chatting with bartenders and strangers. It's like playing hooky. To do it at Luger's is even better.

    Even though I am a native Brooklynite the only time I was ever there was probably 25 years ago, on a Sunday night, with 2 friends, and like you, we sat at the bar. It wasn't nearly as interesting as your visit, I think Luger's was going thru a "down" period at that time (like NY city in general back then) the burgers were OK but nothing like what you just had. I need to return!

    Thanks for writing this up, I'm really looking forward to the report on the rest of your burger stops.

    #20
    Twinwillow
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/14 00:38:45 (permalink)
    Billyboy, you've done it again. You've made me insanely jealous of your food escapades once again!
    #21
    EatingTheRoad
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/14 07:07:25 (permalink)
    billyboy

    ...initially I came up with a list of over 50 burger places in NYC and that was just too daunting to even tackle, so I narrowed it down to places I had been to before I wanted to see how they held up, personal recommendations from friends and checking out reviews and recs online (Yelp, Menupages and here on Roadfood).


    Ahhh....you've got my mouth watering already. This was a most excellent "preview" post to your report. I want to ask questions like where all'd you go and what was the best, etc. but I know you'll get to it. I'm biting my tongue here.......so what was your favorite? (I'm actually guessing this one was because you couldn't contain your joy)
    #22
    NC Cheesehead
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/14 08:00:27 (permalink)
    I always look for value but that burger looked every bit worth what you paid.  The bun
    appeared to be a really good quality artisan bun.  The meat looked every bit as good as you said.  But one thing...I would have preferred real cheddar or swiss as opposed to a processed cheese product.  Just a minor thing.
    #23
    EatingTheRoad
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/14 08:56:24 (permalink)
    NC Cheesehead

    I always look for value but that burger looked every bit worth what you paid.  The bun
    appeared to be a really good quality artisan bun.  The meat looked every bit as good as you said.  But one thing...I would have preferred real cheddar or swiss as opposed to a processed cheese product.  Just a minor thing.


    I know you're using a different definition but:

    "The subjective theory of value (or theory of subjective value) is an economic theory of value that holds that to possess value an object must be both useful and scarce, with the extent of that value dependent upon the ability of an object to satisfy the wants of any given individual. "Value" here is distinct from exchange value or price."

    Seems like a good value to me
    #24
    jaylhorner
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/14 08:58:12 (permalink)
    Great post!
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    cavandre
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/14 09:00:55 (permalink)
    All I'll say is that billyboy's report makes me what that burger now...and I just finished breakfast.
    #26
    doggydaddy
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/14 09:34:07 (permalink)


    billy,

    Your posts always present the very best of NYC. But really, who is going to believe that New Yorkers are THAT friendly and hug strangers.

    ---Only thing....$3 for bacon?!? Not that I blame you though===

    That is not bacon, it is a side of pork belly. $3.00 for bacon is a bargain. Most diners charge that much for a side to go with your pancakes...

    mark
    p.s. I like their sauce with my steak.
    #27
    the grillman
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/14 10:00:38 (permalink)
    oh, man......I need a towel to wipe my mouth.....

    that picture of the burger cut in half, showing the medium pink and juiciness leaking onto the bun.....wow.

    thanks!
    #28
    mr chips
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/14 10:29:41 (permalink)
    What a fantastic burger photo. That burger looks as wonderful as any I have ever seen. When I get to New York, Peter Luger has joined Yankee Stadium and Citibank Park as a must see. Thank you for sharing with us.
    #29
    TJ Jackson
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    Re:A very special trip to Peter Luger's in New York City (with pics!) 2009/11/14 10:44:47 (permalink)
    billyboy
    Minetta was on my short list .....but I never got around to it.  Have you tried it?

    Have not yet been to NYC, but the 'Black Label' meat has been written about a lot

    Check out  http://aht.seriouseats.co...ck_label_burger_1.html

    #30
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