Peter Luger Steakhouse has hit back at The New York Times for an excoriating, zero-star review which went viral on Tuesday to insist that it does have the best steak in New York City despite what critics say.
The Times’ food critic Pete Wells described the restaurant as an overpriced ‘scam’ where customers are treated rudely by staff and ‘processed’ at the front door.
He obliterated the food, which he said was unevenly cooked and underwhelming, and slammed the restaurant’s managers who ‘go out of their way to make things inconvenient.’
New Yorkers rejoiced in his criticism, taking to Twitter in droves to say they had long felt the same way about the restaurant.
Many called the review ‘overdue’ and rattled off the names of other notable spots like 4 Charles Prime Rib and Keens which they said were superior.
But restaurant owner Jody Storch hit back overnight.
She told The New York Post: ‘We know who we are and have always been. The best steak you can eat. Not the latest kale salad.
The restaurant’s facade. There is almost always a line inside, even for those with a reservation
‘While the reviewers and their whims have changed, Lugers has always focused on doing one thing exceptionally well — serving the highest quality of steak — with a member of our family buying every piece of USDA Prime beef individually, just as we have done for decades.’
‘We know who we are and have always been. The best steak you can eat. Not the latest kale salad.
Peter Luger owner Jody Storch
A waiter who has worked in the restaurant for 30 years also dismissed the Times’ harsh critique.
‘Nothing is good enough. When [Wells] was here taking pictures, we had bets in the back on how much garbage he was going to write,’ the man, who did not want to be named, said.
He also criticized Wells for ordering sole on one of his visits.
‘The meat has always been our prime objective. We only have steak. If you go to a steakhouse to eat fish, then what are you doing?’ he said.
Wells’ criticism was embraced by New Yorkers who said they shared the view that the expensive eatery had gone downhill.
The New York Times review on Tuesday which gave the restaurant zero stars
Suggested reasons for the downfall vary, but some say it was exasperated by the departure of Wolfgang Zweiner, the long-serving head waiter who left in 2004. He was subsequently sued by Wolfgang Puck, another steakhouse owner, for calling his new restaurants ‘Wolfgang’s Steakhouse’.
New York Times food critic Pete Wells
Staff at Peter Luger, who are famously difficult to get a hold of due to their long-held but recently abolished no online reservations policy, could not be reached. There was no answer at the Brooklyn restaurant’s main phone line on Tuesday.
The restaurant sits beneath the Williamsburg Bridge and has attracted well-heeled steak fans from Manhattan for decades.
It opened in 1887, when it was known as Carl Luger’s Café, Billiards and Bowling Alley.
Owner Peter Luger owned the restaurant but it was named after his nephew, Carl.
It was taken over in 1920 by Sol Forman, a local businessman and grew over years to become known as one of if not the best steakhouse in the five boroughs.
The restaurant boasts one Michelin star and without fail has a line of diners, even those who have reservations, at the door every day.
But, Wells writes, it has lost its charm and is no longer worth its exorbitant prices.
The Department of Motor Vehicles is a block party compared with the line at Peter Luger
Steak for two, for example, is $109 A side dish of sliced tomatoes and onions is $16.95 and its famous thick bacon is $6.95-a-slice.
‘I don’t remember when the doubts began, but they grew over time,’ he writes, explanation that he has been visiting the restaurant since the 1990s when he would happily shell-out once a year for a life-changing steak there.
‘Diners who walk in the door eager to hand over literal piles of money aren’t greeted; they’re processed…
The menu at Peter Luger where steak for two costs $109 and a side of raw, sliced tomato and onion is $16.95
The restaurant is best known for its porterhouse steak. But Wells described it as being unevenly cooked and far from the best cut of meat in New York City
‘There is almost always a wait, with or without a reservation, and there is almost always a long line of supplicants against the wall.
‘A kind word or reassuring smile from somebody on staff would help the time pass. The smile never comes.
‘The Department of Motor Vehicles is a block party compared with the line at Peter Luger,’ he writes.
The problems do not end at the line, either, according to Wells who also says the once ‘charmingly brusque’ waiters are now simply rude and disengaged.
‘The servers, who once were charmingly brusque, now give the strong impression that these endless demands for food and drink are all that’s standing between them and a hard-earned nap,’ he wrote.
Wells also said the food was sub par.
‘The shrimp cocktail has always tasted like cold latex dipped in ketchup and horseradish…Was the Caesar salad always so drippy, the croutons always straight out of a bag, the grated cheese always so white and rubbery?’
The meat, he said, was also nothing to write home about.
New Yorkers rejoiced in Wells’ scathing criticism of the restaurant
‘What gnaws at me every time I eat a Luger porterhouse is the realization that it’s just another steak, and far from the best New York has to offer,’ he wrote.
New Yorkers and tourists who have eaten at the restaurant rejoiced in Wells’ critique of it on Twitter.
Some said they had long held the same view that it was overpriced and overrated but that it had once been worth the hype.
Others said they experienced the poor service and mediocre food Wells’ described in the 1980s and 1990s.
They listed their other favorites, 4 Charles Prime Rib, Keens, The Beatrice Inn, whereas some said the steaks they eat in Nebraska for $20 were preferable.
Peter Luger, which is still owned by the Forman family, has not addressed the bad review.
It remains on the Michelin one-star list.
The history of the Brooklyn restaurant known for ‘New York’s best steak’
Luger was opened in 1887 by Peter Luger, a German immigrant. It was originally Carl Luger’s Café, Billiards and Bowling Alley and, according to the restaurant’s website, was a favorite among the predominantly German neighborhood.
Peter Luger was the owner but his nephew, Carl, ran the kitchen and that is where it got its name.
While popular, the restaurant soared thanks to the help of the Forman family, a who ran a manufacturing company across the street.
‘Forman Family made everything from silverware to trays to stamped-metal giftware. The manufacturing site, at 185 Broadway, served as a headquarters for sales, and what better place for Sol Forman to take prospective clients than the famed restaurant just across the street? Sol was known to eat two steaks a day – three when the trade shows came through,’ the restaurant’s website boasts.
The restaurant was opened in the 1880s then was revamped in 1920 by the Forman family
When Peter Luger died, the restaurant ran into disrepair.
Sol Forman took over the restaurant after the death of Peter Luger
Forman was the only person who showed up to buy it at auction, winning it for the price of the land alone. He revived it and when the Williamsburg bridge opened in the 1903, its success multiplied with wealthier Manhattanites coming over the East River in search of a good steak.
The restaurant claims to have boasted the title of New York’s best steakhouse since the 1980s.
It has one Michelin star and a steady stream of tourists and new residents lining up outside on most nights for a table.
It is known for its rude service – trying to make a reservation online was impossible until recently and even getting an answer on the phone is seldom.
Cash is the only form of payment accepted (other than the house’s Peter Luger credit card).
While it’s known for is porterhouse steak and burger at lunchtime, the restaurant is notorious for its overpriced sides like a $16.95 plate of tomato and onion and bacon at $6.95 a slice.
Peter Luger’s famous side of bacon which is $6.95 per slice