Tuesday, October 29, 2019

RE: NYT PETER LUGER'S REVIEW




















Dear Pete,
I learned from the Sopranos that it’s always paramount to establish respect before saying “with all due disrespect”. You, AO Scott, Emily Nussbaum, Jerry Saltz, Jon Caramanica (when he’s not Stan-ing for Drake or Sound Cloud rap lol), and Dwight Garner, are the only critics I read… RIP Michiko. If you can get Sam to stop writing recipes, I’d love to see him live podcast the Democratic debates. 

But with all due respect… Peter Luger’s is the greatest steakhouse in the world bar none. When I stopped eating beef, there were three things I made sure to eat: Oxtail at Islands in Crown Heights, Taiwanese beef noodle soup at home, and Peter Luger’s steak. My last visit was the first week of August and it was just as good as it was the first time I went in 2004.

So I re-read this review three times and I’m convinced of three things:
  1. The real Pete Wells is tied up in a Brooklyn basement and we must save him.
  2. Russians wrote this review.
  3. Sam let this review go because of growing anti-beef trends, which I support.

If this is an attack on the beef industry, fine, but an attack on the institution, the salad, and the style of service is insane. I love an iconoclast, which is why I love the reviews you do three times a year that are an indictment of the direction food culture is going as much as it is an indictment of a restaurant, but this is a stray shot. This is like leaving a yelp review in 2019 about the service at Supreme in 2005. THAT IS THE FUCKING BRAND. 

Why are you feigning ignorance about NY service standards? It’s “howyadoin,” “cash only,” “no returns, next.” Friends/family skip the line and if you don’t like it get the fuck out. Find your family and if you want better service or return policies, buy things on Far Fetch, increase carbon footprints, and watch the world burn in Palm Angels tracksuits by 2030 or whenever they say we are all going to die of contemporary men’s fashion now. 

If anything we need MORE Peter Luger’s, more 2005 Supreme, more Great NY Noodletown. That’s what’s dying in New York! Every thing that has a singular confident identity anchored in local community and beliefs is being displaced by overly calculated/curated experiences that feel like algorithms trying to draw the greatest number of followers. Downtown is now this monolithic thing that looks the same from NY to Mexico City to Istanbul to London to Paris to Shanghai to wherever because every one thinks there is a way with enough numbers and research to appeal to every one like an iPhone. 

The reason an iPhone or an iPad or an iMac works is because you only need one every 3 years. You aren’t eating three iPhones a day or wearing 7 pairs of iUnderwears a week. You make a choice once every three years: is it more important to save money or not be laughed at for sending green texts? Not every thing is that simple or sterile. At least not yet…

My Dad used to say, “People eat with their eyes. They look at a plate and decide whether it tastes good or not.” Now a days with sea levels rising, the water’s edge for judgment has reached the front door. People are eating font type. They’ve already decided by looking at the font type and Pantone colors of your restaurant whether it’s good or not. You put two colors of chili in a line on fish and it’s a fucking hit. Shouts to Contramar and shouts to the people in Hunan who have been putting two colors of fermented chili on fish heads for a thousand years, but every one else can die under the sea. IT’S BEEN DONE. WHY DOES YOUR FISH LOOK LIKE CHA CHA MATCHA?

Restaurants are all about the scene, the crowd, the design, the “chef”, while Peter Luger’s is about community. Yes, it’s fucking expensive. Yes, they push around new people. But just like Rao’s, just like Supreme, just like the old Union on Spring Street, just like Noodletown, if you are local, if you go a lot, people remember your name, they’ll save you a t shirt, they’ll save you a table, they’ll save you some suckling pig, and they’ll throw a little extra steak in your doggy bag. And this happened to me at these spots when I was broke selling t-shirts on a train. I still remember the people that held me down, made me feel part of the family, and stiff armed the posers and tourists and toys. That’s why we rep Peter Luger’s so fucking hard. It’s not just a place for old guys and rich people with the Peter Luger card; it’s aspirational. 

Go watch the Ralph documentary and listen to why every one aspired to the life style. Peter Luger’s is the Ralph Lauren of steakhouses. This is the shit we aspired to. When my boy Quddus came into town with Sean Paul, we wore our Lo, we took him to Luger’s and we felt like we made it. Luger’s has been making people feel this way for 100 years and its why people still aspire to go. 5 years ago, I took two bags of steak to the club with Brian Procell and we held it up like the Larry O’Brien Trophy cause every one else could cop bottles but we had Peter Luger’s. We wouldn’t do that with any other food item besides maybe the Hennessy Wings from Dallas BBQs.

And this isn’t copping out on the food. The first time I went to Luger’s and got the check, I definitely did a double take. I considered whether the food was worth it, I wondered if I should have bypassed the German Hash since I’d be paying interest on it for the next three months of Chase Sapphire bills, but when I woke up for three days straight thinking about beef fat and potatoes, I knew I did the right thing. 

There are very few restaurants you don’t need a menu at, but go to Luger’s and see how many people need menus. The ones with menus will complain, they’ll leave yelp reviews, and they’ll order Sole (which I agree is good and what I will be going back for now that I don’t eat beef). The ones without menus say a few words: steak for four, tomato onion salad, bacon for four, German hash, and creamed spinach. They don’t dip the steak in the sauce, they know why one side is seared hard, and the other is butter soft. They’ll take their partners, their parents, their best friends, and their grand kids. They’ll die dreaming of beef fat and potatoes as the world burns or sinks under water. And guess what, so will the people you see with menus today… 

27 comments:

  1. I read the review this morning and have been literally waiting all day to see what you had to say. Great counterpoint and I totally get it. I'm from Chicago so think Billy Goat Tavern...its all about the experience,the community.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Downtown is now this monolithic thing that looks the same from NY to Mexico City to Istanbul to London to Paris to Shanghai to wherever because every one thinks there is a way with enough numbers and research to appeal to every one like an iPhone"


    Peter Luger's aside this line is a big fucking BARS from me. Esp for me as an architect (entry level fresh out of school) it's such a fucking bummer how this paint by numbers shit affects everything. Imo It's kind of the tech bro startup culture infecting how we view product and aesthetic, idk this is a half formed thought but it smells to me like white common projects and away suitcases

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Schlag alone is worth it. Yes. I said it. Luger's Schlag for the win.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Pete is making the point that the food is just not very good. You're making the point that Luger's is an establishment and it's good for locals, a sense of community, and maintaining a uniqueness about NYC food establishments. You're both right.

    People who want excellent food above anything else should not go to Luger's. Any Japanese beef anywhere is better than Luger's (not really, but y'know).

    The Luger's nostalgia will not last forever. The people who enjoy Luger's for what it used to be will literally die, and if the food and service remains as is, so will Luger's.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Chase Sapphire bills? I don't think this person has been to Luger's; it's cash or debit only!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He won't be able to pay the Chase Sapphire bill because he paid for Luger's out of his checking account *lightbulb*

      Delete
    2. You can also cash advance on your credit card too, it's usually a tenth of your credit line limit

      Delete
  6. New York hasn't changed all that much. Posers whining about posers. This dude crying that New York isn't the same New York as 2004/2005. Guess what over grown adolescents in their late 30's were saying in 2004/2005? "New York is ruined. 2005 New York is Disneyland. 1989 New York was the real. 40's on the Bowery before getting bloody at CB's"
    I've worked as a nurse in NYC hospitals since the early '80s. We work hard no matter what, yet we get 5 weeks paid vacation. Plus, 18 paid sick days, 5 personal days, 12 paid holidays, our birthday, Nurse's Day, maternity/paternity... All that, plus our entry level Nursing Assistants start well over $20 an hour. Staffing is well over 80% minorities.
    Reading this dude's post, plus his last one; it's an exercise at missing the point of this country. We laugh at work at these "kids" who don't realize that we're ALL bathing in privilege. Even those of us, like me, who learned the hard way how to stay out of jail. (It's actually an easy solution.) It just has to be worked for individually and passed on to our kids.
    Me, I don't know who my great great grandparents are. I never met my father. I know who my family is today and that's all that matters. You can call me black, African American, POC, whatever you choose. Just never call me a victim. Granted, I chose to study healthcare and not Gender Grievance. See, privilege is available. If you waste it, don't cry that someone has more than you. If five weeks paid vacation with my family isn't privilege, then oh well. I guess I don't need what some think they want.
    As for New York? I'll take today's. I haven't been mugged since 1993 and my mother isn't called "puta" everytime she goes to the park. Sure, I don't have silly Chase Sapphire debt. Like I said, I don't need the "privilege" this dude has. It sounds like his privilege is fear. Fear of drowning, melting or whatever. I used to fear the ozone layer in the 90's. However it's 2019 now. I learned all you need to do is do what you can do, and leave the heavy work to Elon Musk. I know, I know, where's the sport in that? Oh well...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ether, awesome! Well spoken, congrats, and best sure to 'share'
      the "It's actually an easy solution." with others - reply here?

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "It's kind of the tech bro startup culture infecting how we view product and aesthetic, idk this is a half formed thought but it smells to me like white common projects and away suitcases." Nailed it.

    ReplyDelete
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