Friday, August 6, 2010

Best Burger in NYC Search: Peter Luger Steakhouse

178 Broadway - Brooklyn (Williamsburg), NY
(718) 387-7400
Burger: The Luger Burger ($8.95) 

In a city that endears itself to over-the-top cuisine, trendy ambiance and wildly popular man-about-town chefs, we as self-proclaimed foodies can always embrace a classic. Often, a divergence from the norm and a reversion to that classic American restaurant experience and fare is just what the doctor ordered. Enter Peter Luger Steakhouse – a Michelin Star winning, 24 years and running best steakhouse winner from Zagat, which not only offers a great porterhouse but an incredibly insane value of a burger. Given that most reviews we’ve written in order find the best burger in NYC have lead us to Manhattan vaunts, we relished the opportunity to venture across the East River to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in an effort to devour a burger that almost always makes its way onto the “best of” lists of esteemed food critiques around the country. From Frank Bruni of the New York Times to GQ’s Alan Richman, burger enthusiasts have showered Luger with praise and we were eager to test the ranks and hopped the L train to Brooklyn on a sweltering summer Saturday.

Our Expectations: The Luger Burger. Over ½ a pound of freshly ground prime beef on a brioche bun – all for $8.95. Add cheese (which we did, American) for $1.50, and you’ve easily got one of the best values on the Luger menu. Notably, you have to head to Luger during lunch hours (until 3pm) to take a bite of their dish, so it’s easy to miss. Regardless, with a burger cooked in the same famous broilers as their steaks, a lunch-time trip to the steakhouse is an easy sell.

The Burger

 Meat: Much like the undeniable taste and flavor of their steaks, Luger hit the bulls-eye with their patty’s meat. Setting the standard for what is sure to be a hard to beat ranking for burgers, the glorious flavors immediately engulf your taste buds to the point of a taste utopia. With a perfect combination of tender juiciness and seasoning, the meat is without a doubt the stand out of the burger composition. Attentiveness in the kitchen is apparent as well, as the three burgers ordered (all medium rare) came out with a pleasant result of pinkish red in the center and lightly charred and glazed on the outside.

Toppings: Clearly, you don’t venture to Peter Luger to eat a burger and expect copious amounts of inventive toppings or fancy accoutrements. You go for the meat, period. Though the bacon is renowned (thick-cut and a must have, we ordered it on the side), in our opinion it doesn’t belong on the burger…it’s a meal in itself. Still, we ordered American cheese, which was thoroughly draped over the patty, and topped our burger with the raw onions that came on the side. Each topping was enjoyable but not entirely necessary, so we did remove each halfway through eating, just to get the true Luger burger dining experience and enjoy the meat's flavor.

Bun: With a sizable patty comes a sizable bun. Given 8 to 10 ounces of beef is provided, Luger does an admirable job of evenly slicing a nicely toasted brioche bun that comfortably holds the patty without a superfluous portion. Nutty and light, but still a bit standard and average, the bun fares well through every bite while encasing the burger juice to a T.

Bedlam's Peter Luger Steakhouse Judgment

Meat (50): Superb, magnificent, brilliant…choose your adjective and insert here. Such sumptuous beef in the best burger in NYC search deserves a perfect ranking, and we obliged.

Toppings (21): To be fair, we’ve noted that the meat is so striking, these aren’t necessary. That said, we enjoyed the American cheese and onions, but might skip them altogether on our next tasting since our bites without the toppings were remarkable.

Bun (22): Impeccably sized and cut, a well received bun that stands its ground to a formidable patty.

Ranking: 93 out of 100

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