April 7, 2005
The Peter Luger Burger
Ever since Tuesday's visit to Shake Shack, visions of delicious burgers have been dancing in my mind. All of a sudden I'm jazzed to seek out delicious burgers across our fine city. So today, I buckled up and headed out to Williamsburg to try the burger at Peter Luger, which is served during lunch only.
If you know me, you know that I loath to leave Manhattan. It's not a Manhattanite holier-than-thou thing (though it seems like it), but rather a mental wall I hit when I think about the body of water separating me from my destination. When there are rivers and bridges involved, it just makes it seem that much farther psychologically. I would sooner go to the Upper West Side than Williamsburg even though UWS is much farther and harder to get to. Makes no sense? Well, I won't argue with you there. But that's just how I am.
I've heard about the mystical lunch-only burger ($7.95) at Peter Luger for a long, long time now. But being in Brooklyn and lunch-only (I rarely eat lunch) meant I've never gotten around to it.
The restaurant was about maybe half-full when we got there around 2:15, and surprisingly, most people were eating steaks. I mean, my god, a huge, greasy porterhouse for lunch?! But I guess this is the time to come, you can get a table without a reservation.
To be honest, now that I think about it, I don't think I've ever heard anyone tell me the burger is good there. A couple of years back, The New York Times did a burger survey and claimed it was incredible, but no one I know have actually tried it. When I ask about it, everyone just seems to think that it should be pretty good, seeing how it's from Peter Luger, and Peter Luger is one of those places that almost everyone seems to love.
I like the steaks at Peter Luger, at least the first couple of pieces from the middle of the porterhouse. Towards the edges, they start to get very dry and overcooked. The best steaks I've had have all been home-made. Nothing in any restaurants have come close.
Anyway, the point is, the steaks are pretty good, even if not spectacular. I came in having high hopes. I mean, they have ready access to quality beef so it should stand to reason that they should be able to put together a good burger patty.
We opted for the Cheese Burger with Fries ($10.95). As soon as the burgers came, I knew we were in trouble. We had asked for medium, and both of our burgers came nuked beyond recognition. Look at how dry and shriveled up that sad little beef patty looked. The buns were way too big and were untoasted and dry. The patty was topped with melted cheese and came with a humongous slice of raw onion and about 6 to 7 large cuts of fries.
I didn't even really want to eat it after taking one look at it. So, after snapping a few photos, I unenthusiastically took a bite. Bleh. Dry and bland. Just awful. I understood then why they give you their steak sauce on the side for the burgers. The only way I could swallow the rest of the burger was to completely drench it with their steak sauce. I literally have eaten better burgers while sitting underneath Arnold's loin cloth from Conan the Barbarian at the Hard Rock Cafe. Here, instead of the Purple Rain display, you get a bunch of surly waiters who pay you no attention since you are not buying the $75 Steak for Two. (And just to be clear, I do not think the Hard Rock makes good burgers nor do I like to sit underneath Arnold's loin cloth.)
Well, maybe I should be glad that it wasn't good. It's a blessing in disguise, really. The less reasons for me to travel to faraway lands such as Brooklyn, the better.
Peter Luger, 78 Broadway, Brooklyn (just across the Williamsburg Bridge), (718) 387-7400
Food & Drink