19 April 2009

Peter Luger Steakhouse

First of all, thank you to the person who posted this exquisitely evocative photo of Peter Luger's facade on Flikr. Last Saturday was my second visit in as many years to the steak shrine - about the right frequency necessary to keep cardiac arrest at bay. Peter Luger is one of the few New York institutions that still garners respect. I've gotten yawns when bragging about multiple trips to 3 Michelin-starred Per Se, but everyone musters up some interest in Luger's extreme steak.

They cook only the Porterhouse cut, USDA Prime, selected by Luger staff, aged on premises for up to three weeks. After that, our waiter intimated, the stink isn't worth it. A real Porterhouse is a thing of beauty, the buffet of steak. The T-bone of our 4-person-sized steak stretched for half the table. The cut includes the New York Strip (my favorite for its texture and flavor), the filet mignon (could live without that - it's what non-meat eaters think of as good steak), as well as beautifully long strip of tenderloin. Eating a Porterhouse makes me want to apprentice to a good butcher.

I can cook an amazing steak (if I say so myself), but even my best effort looks wimpy next to a Luger's Porterhouse. Their crust sets it apart. It is crunchy, salty, and thick like a hand-made potato chip. Yet it doesn't compromise the rare meat inside.

The key is the oven. Heat inside reaches 1300˚F, according to our waiter. The crust's complex flavors emerge with no more coaxing than a good sprinkle of iodized table salt. It's the aging and quality of the meat that make the difference.

And their bacon! It's almost worth the schlep to Brooklyn in itself. Served as an appetizer, it comes as a thick-cut steak of ham with a minimum of fat marbling. Again, the searing gives it a great toothsome quality while preserving the meat's integrity.

I would hand over a ransom to learn who their bacon supplier is. Any ideas?

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