Thursday afternoon, a friend of ours who lives in Boston decided that he'd had a bad week, and was coming down to visit. And that we were going to Peter Luger's, the old school, cash only, mob connected best steak house in New York on Friday night.
Which, frankly, was the best idea that anyone had that entire week.
And so, 10 of us ended up going to Luger's - 2 from Boston, 1 from San Francisco (that happened to be in Rhode Island when the email went out), 1 from Columbia (the country, who happened to be in New York for the holidays), and six of us from in and around New York. I thought it was pretty impressive that we managed to put that group together in less than 36 hours.
Since enough people had been to Luger's before, we were able to order quickly: "Steak for 10, medium rare, creamed spinach for 10, German fried potatoes for 10, and to start off with, 10 slabs of bacon, and Luger's famous onion and tomato salad for 10."
Since some of the people had not been there before, someone asked about the menu. Our waiter, who was one of those truly professional, old fashioned, life-long waiters, pointed at the menu and said, "ignore the right side (with the daily specials), only order the steak, the appetizers, and the sides, if you want." Which is true. I think if you order the Prime Rib or the Salmon at Luger's, they take you out and shoot you. (Also, we had wine. But that's not as fun to talk about.)
And so, I took a picture of the bacon, as it was amazing, and something that should be emulated, but only if the quality can be replicated.
It's a quarter-inch thick, and it's amazing. It's only $2.95, and frankly, it's the reason to go to Luger's. The steak is fabulous, but it's steak, and we've all had that. A good steak is worth seeking out, but you can find it in most cities of reasonable size. But this bacon is something truly unique.
You can also see on my plate a slice of the onion and tomato salad, covered in the Luger's steak sauce - which is a tangy cross between cocktail sauce and steak sauce. YUM.
The steak, which came in the form of three plates, covered in porterhouses that were sliced and soaked with butter, did not last long. In fact, by the time I got around to taking a picture, this was all that was left:
But I promise you it was a wonder to behold. And in the top five of all steaks I have ever eaten.
Of course, with their cash only policy, the bill is always a fun time. And it wasn't all that expensive, but when it's $100 a person (with tip), and there are 10 people, there's an impressive display of cash on the table when it comes time to pay. So impressive that I felt the need to take a picture of it all:
We ended the night at our friend's house in Brooklyn, only a few blocks away from the restaurant. Playing a drinking game called "Caps" which had been played with either quarters or bottle caps by this group of men until 6 of them went to Costa Rico and discovered that the Colones coins look like "Pirate Coins" and the men play with them.
Around 4 in the morning, we remembered that we had to return to Manhattan, and did so.
Saturday, though, was Matt's 27th birthday. Which meant we had to do something truly special. We had dinner with 6 of our closest friends - my sister and her boyfriend, and Kat and her boyfriend, and my old roommate Jane and her boyfriend. And we managed to get a reservation for 8 on a Saturday at Dave Martin's new restaurant, Crave on 42nd.
I cannot say enough good things about this place - the food was amazing. Everyone had an appetizer, and they were all good - one of the standouts being the Black Truffle Mac'n Cheese. I had the "Chop Chop" salad and so enjoyed it that I was trying to figure out the marinade for the chicken so I could replicate it at home. The main courses were spectacular - two people had the sea bass, and both said it was the best sea bass they had ever had. The pizzas were delicious and surprising. And everything was quite reasonably priced - most of the entrees were in the low $20 range.
And yet I worry about this place, because it's slightly out of the way, at 42 and 11 - too far west for any tourists, and not convenient to the subway. But it is more than worth the effort it takes to get to the restaurant. One of the most exciting parts of the night for me was the fact that Dave Martin was near the door and greeted us when we came in, and helped us move our wine from the bar to the table when we were seated, and checked on us at our table after we had received our dinners. But also - I could see him darting into the kitchen every five minutes, making sure that food was being prepared to his specifications.
And of course, it was Matt's birthday, so we ended the night playing Wii with Kat and Joe until we all passed out from drinking too much red wine. I just hope that my birthday is as much fun.