The Luger Burger
With two weeks away from the office and a timely reacquaintance with my family, we've indulged our new found time together with lunches and dinners away from school, office, and our kitchen table. A recent return of a generous but duplicate Hanukkah gift brought us within blocks of the most famed steak house in the country, Peter Lugers. The proximity alone was a compelling draw and the poet in me finds romance in the introduction of New York institutions to my son 6 and daughter 4. I remember my son's first Yankee game, the history, the tradition, "batting 3rd, Derek Jeter", though none of this could hold a candle to dot ice cream served in a baseball helmet, I mean how could the game compete with frozen pleasure. With this in mind, we called and scored a 1PM reservation, perfect !
I have only been to Lugers at night, first before the hipsters took over the province in 1991, and most recently with family, celebrating a birthday. On that sojourn, I cozied up to the bartender, prompting him for stories of lore, steaks gone wrong, history of regulars, and I remember that his advice to me about the place was startling, he said simply " Luger hard cores know the steak but also come for lunch to have the burger ". I was shocked and intrigued, and determined to take him up on his charge, sadly though, Williamsburg lunches and my day job are not frequently perpendicular.
So on the day after Christmas, we were at Luger's, 1 PM, and the burgers were en route. I went with bacon and cheese, my son went plain, my wife with cheese, all of us disappointed to realize that the sole dairy topping was American ? Huh ? Are they sending us a message with the processed sheet cheese or is that the purposeful thinking. The meal began with the famed onion rolls, dipped in the Luger sauce, and butter, or just plain. Im not sure if the rolls are great or if they just normally preceed the most luscious porterhouse love dipped in butter and oil and brolied to perfection.
On the table were three burgers on a white fluffy bun, one order of broccoli for my daughter who chose not to have a burger and weighs in at a hefty 33 pounds, and a large platter of fries. Lets start with the spuds. The potatoes are not steak fries and not classic thin cut french fried. They are long and delicious, with what seem like an extra defined outside crust giving way to an almost mashed inside. They were astounding and unique, flaming hot, and a bit too fried in only the best possible way. The broccoli was fine, steamed with a hint of salt and butter. My thin as a rail daughter proclaimed it brilliant and dipped each floret in the extra salted water that pooled on the plate. How this author sired a daughter who had broccoli at luger's certainly calls into question a nature nurture overall. The main event, the burger, did not disappoint. The burgers were shaped liked the backyard, plump and round 8 to 10 ounces in heft, and perfectly
seared on both sides. The texture was soft and perfectly steak, the juices ran clear, the bun was perfectly pleasant and irrelevant. The bacon on top was unnecessary and brilliant, the thick sliced flavor center is the most decadent side dish served on the Atlantic coast, and while i feared it would drown out the steak, I realized on bite two or three that bacon doesn't do harm to any meal or bite in my culinary repertoire. As for the American cheese, I still don't get it but was perfectly content to recognize the smooth addition to each bite and content to ignore the Americana on Brooklyn's best.
To be honest, it was strange being in Luger's without the Poter House. I missed the spinach, the potatoes, the onion rings, but was really thrilled to be there none the less. Was it a great burger, yes, was it what Luger's is all about on the inside as I was prompted by the mystery bartender, I guess for some, maybe. Lugers rocks.