When it comes to food in New York, you could say there’s a lot at stake. And for one of the city’s most famous steakhouses, the steak’s just the first problem.
Once upon a time, Peter Luger Steak House was one of New York’s most iconic luxury restaurants. Celebrated for its legendary steaks and classic wood-paneled interior, Peter Luger was a symbol of the city’s delicious extravagance.
But after The New York Times published a zero-star review Tuesday, shamelessly dragging the restaurant’s name through the dirt, New Yorkers are left reevaluating their life choices: Should I have just walked to work? Will I ever pay my rent on time? Was Peter Luger’s steak actually any good?
For this review, Times’ restaurant critic Pete Wells pulled out his own steak knife and butchered Peter Luger. And seriously, it’s brutal.
“Peter Luger used to sizzle. Now it sputters,” the story was headlined.
“I know there was a time the German fried potatoes were brown and crunchy, because I eagerly ate them each time I went,” Wells wrote in his review.
“Now they are mushy, dingy, gray and sometimes cold. I look forward to them the way I look forward to finding a new, irregularly shaped mole.”
Wells roasted the steaks, which he labeled “far from the best New York has to offer.” Of course, he doesn’t stop there.
The salads, he said, are “drippy,” the shrimp cocktails resemble “cold latex dripped in ketchup,” and the $17 sliced tomatoes “taste like 1979.”
While the reactions to Wells’ scathing critique have been mixed, the review began trending nationwide. Many seem to agree with Wells.
“I feel like that Peter Luger review has been coming for a while now,” Phil Hughes said on Twitter. “Wildly forgettable in every way.”
“Devastating review,” tweeted another Wells fan. “@pete_wells has a beautiful and crushing way with words, and I’m a little heartbroken. But this speaks to me…because the hard truth is that he’s absolutely right.”
However, not everyone thought the review was tasteful.
“Unlike Pete Wells, my burger always arrived with that ‘midnight-dark crust giving way to an evenly rosy interior so full of juices it looked like it was ready to cry,’” one Peter Luger fan tweeted. “Long live Peter Luger.”
“This was written by the same guy who reviewed Guy Fieri’s restaurant in Times Square,” Ken McGraw said on Twitter. “So, if you read his review on that you obviously can see he doesn’t know what good food is.”
Despite Peter Luger’s faithful fans, Wells simply doesn’t see what they’re so in love with.
“The restaurant will always have its loyalists,” Wells wrote. “They will say that nobody goes to Luger for the sole, nobody goes to Luger for the wine, nobody goes to Luger for the salad, nobody goes to Luger for the service. The list goes on, and gets harder to swallow, until you start to wonder who really needs to go to Peter Luger, and start to think the answer is nobody.”
This marks 132-year-old restaurant’s first review in the Times in 12 years. Frank Bruni gave Peter Luger two stars in his 2007 review.