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After two days of frenetic meetings and taxicab crawling in the tight labyrinthine, sun-blocked streets of Manhattan it actually felt like a release to take a ride across the Brooklyn Bridge in spite of a steady early afternoon drizzle. We were heading to what some say is the greatest steak house in America, Peter Luger’s.

As we rode in the cab the gray geometry of bridge girders flashed against the granite skyline and my eyes like a visual version of the aural clackety-clackety-clack of a locomotive.

We’d eaten two ambitious French meals yesterday and an Asian banquet the night before that. A steak sounded very comforting.

When we won the Gourmet Magazine award we flew to New York for the ceremony. One of the other recipients was Peter Luger’s. I met one of the daughters of the Storch family that now owns it. Her name is Jody and she graciously invited us to come next time we were in town.

I must admit that I was shocked at the Spartan simplicity of the décor. The tables were bare, wooden rectangles. Our waiter looked as if he’d been working those floors for fifty years. He brought us caraway rolls with cold chunks of salted butter. He also brought out a bottle of red wine complements of the house.

We ordered tomato and red onion salad, shrimp cocktail (extra horseradish was automatically served along side) and the famous hash browns. Alas, the hash browns weren’t available until 3 p.m. we learned. We also ordered "Steak for three".

Jody came out directly and told me of how her grandfather had purchased the place in 1950. As we spoke, a parade of various service staff members began bringing in tray after tray of raw, cut steaks from somewhere outside into the kitchen. Jody told me they went through, TEN TONS of beef a week!

Her grandfather was still alive at 92 and ate steak twice a day every day. When I tasted it I knew why he was still here.

The steaks couldn’t get any better in heaven.

Copyright © by Norman Van Aken, 2001

Norman Van Aken's Home Page


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