Viva La (Beef) Revolución!

Have you ever had a really, really good steak?  If you’re like most people my age, the answer is probably no, and here’s why: they cost a boatload.  Unless you’ve got a rich uncle or gourmand grandparent (or, to be fair, are better at saving money than me), you may or may not ever get to sample the sumptuously spectacular Peter Luger porterhouse.  

So it’s that much more valuable that any schmuck can walk in to the afore-mentioned temple o’ beef and get a taste of heaven on a bun – that’s right, the Luger Burger.  I’m here to tell you that it tastes like fine steak, only in burger format.  That is, a hell of a lot like the aged porterhouse that will set you back three-quarters of a hundo or more, all for the bargain price of $8.50 (for the unadorned).

Reservations are probably a good idea at Luger’s, which is one of the only times you’ll hear me say that in an entry, but a friend and I waltzed in unannounced at 1:30 on a Saturday and were seated within half an hour.  From there, we planned our attack: burgers medium rare with cheese, fries, and two slices of bacon on the side.

When the beef arrived, it looks strangely unimpressive.  The seeded bun is a bit bigger than the burger, and almost looks too chewy for its own good.  Then you take a bite, and the juices go EVERYWHERE (hope you were leaning up – your mom wasn’t kidding), and you see why perhaps a bit more structure to the bun than is ordinarily necessary benefits you.

And the flavor.  Oh, lord, the flavor!  Aged beef might be a slightly acquired taste, as it has a stiff aroma and earthy palate, but this is the true sign of quality.  It’s surely indicative of the blandness of most of our beef products – do you expect pork or cured meats to be without flavor?  Maybe your average chicken, but that was made bland so that people who don’t like to eat would have something to sauté with frozen veggies (proof: real fried chicken is far from tasteless).

I think the cheese thing is a personal decision, but I don’t regret it in the least.  However, you will be richly rewarded if you load a few of the white onion bits onto your bun.  Most beef (see preceding paragraph) would be overwhelmed by the strong onion, but Luger’s has both good onions and strong-flavored beef, and the flavors are as complementary as peanut butter and jelly.

By the way, the fries are relatively forgettable – if you need additional starch, spring for a plate of au gratin potatoes or something like that.  And the bacon shouldn’t be loaded onto the burger, despite it being offered that way on the menu.  For the same price, get a slice or two on the side and enjoy that perfect pork product on its own.

Good beef on a budget?  It’s the greatest thing since the hamburger bun.  But, in the words of LeVar Burton, don’t take my word for it: you can afford to find this out for yourself.

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