I recently went on a quest to find the best burger in New York City. For the rest of this week, you’ll have my breakdown of what I discovered. This is post #3 of 5 related to trying out some of the best that New York has to offer. The last review, the Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien is available here . Hope you enjoy the series.
New Yorkers are famous for many things. Pastrami. Pizza. The Yankees. And a very brusque attitude. While visiting New York City over the years, other than some crazy drivers, I haven’t found the “New York” attitude to be all that prevalent. Impatient towards tourists? Often, yes. But unfriendly? Not at all.
One of the bastions of the New York attitude exists at Peter Luger. Famous Brooklyn steakhouse known for surly service, 5 week+ dry aged steak, and an astronomical bill. One Michelin Star. Voted best steak in New York for 24 years by Zagat, what isn’t as well known is they have a burger on their lunch menu. One that many consider to be the best burger in New York + Outer Boroughs.
The first thing you encounter upon walking into Peter Lugers is either crowds of people waiting, or the enormous bar. Everyone ends up at the bar eventually – since even with a reservation, you’re typically made to wait 15-20 minutes. Minimum. It’s not the worst place to be stuck though – reasonable New York prices for drinks, an ok house label beer and some decent cocktails. If you’re of the male gender – expect some surly comments and banter – not always lighthearted, though it seems quite faux surly for the most part. Ladies are treated very nicely.
When you’re finally seated, you’ll notice the cramped quarters, sterile environment, and all male wait staff. Old school steakhouse indeed.
While Peter Luger is famous for their steak, one cannot eat meat alone (did I just say that?) – so we ordered some of the sides. There are definite mixed reviews on the sides at Luger’s – as they are quite expensive, and of varying degrees of popularity.
The tomato and onion salad was forgettable. Large, beefsteak tomatos that weren’t ripe, or very tasty.
The most well regarded of the Peter Luger sides is the bacon – and oh, is it ever a glorious thing. Thick cut, loin slab bacon, broiled under high heat. It’s pricey, but definitely worth the cost. If you like bacon of course.
An order of their German-style potatoes for starch – it falls in between the salad and the bacon. Decent potatoes, but nothing special.
The star of the show at Peter Luger is the Porterhouse. Selected and DRY aged for over 5 weeks by the Luger staff, it is available for 1-4 people. Pricey, but in terms of USDA Prime, it really is the best of the best. Great, earthy, rich flavour, tender – though seared at a very high temperature, the meat has a tendency to seize up on the surface a bit, cooked to a nice medium rare. I hate the fact it’s pre-sliced, but it does allow them to rest the meat appropriately.
My problem is the meat itself. I dislike the corn-fed USDA Prime. Ignoring all environmental reasons, it’s greasy and heavy, and coats your mouth with a slick residue. As far as Prime goes (especially when compared to Ruth’s Chris), this is a totally different ball park. Ruth’s Chris wet ages their beef (think…well, eww), but I wish they utilized different beef – breed, and feed.
If you like USDA Prime, give the steak a shot. If you prefer grass fed, I would give it a pass.
Now, onto the whole purpose of the latest visit – the burger. Simple, “over a half pound” of prime beef, on a sesame bun with a ring of onion. Options to add to the burger are cheese, and bacon. The bacon is the slab bacon and comes on the side – not a good fit on the already large burger, so don’t order it unless you want a side of bacon. The American cheese works for me.
The burger itself is large. The bun has a crispy exterior, but the interior is soft and toothsome. It squishes down fairly well so I can get my mouth around it, but doesnt get soggy. It’s a good, appropriate bun.
The burger itself? The burger is fairly coarse ground – i might like it a touch finer. Mine is cooked well – exactly to medium as request. It is fatty, and extremely juicy – be careful of your shirt, juices drip everywhere. The proportion of the burger is a bit big, but if you squish it, it’ll fit.
The flavour? Excellent. A great, rich beefy flavour, with a melting, smooth texture.
The best part? The price. $8 dollars for the burger. Relative to other premium burgers, and especially relative to other items on the Lugers menu, the burger is a steal. This is something worth going for. Sadly, it is only served at lunch 7 days a week, but it is available for takeout if you did not have the foresight to make a reservation weeks in advance. This was not the best burger i’ve ever had, but for the value, this may be the best QPR burger outside of making one myself.
As for the rest of the experience? Let’s just say it was an experience. I wouldn’t repeat the full on dining, avec Porterhouse, at the prices they charge. The steak was good, but not good enough to command the premium dollars they charge.
Bacon – yes. Burger – yes. Porter – no. Simple.
Next up: Walt Street Pub