Bernard Patten of Peter Luger Has a Strict ‘No Touching’ Rule (Even
Last night at Peter Luger, around 9 p.m., Lindsay Lohan dined with a large party, sporting black patent-leather quilted ankle boots with black semi-opaque tights and a black crushed velvet jacket that came to mid-thigh. One man who wasn’t fazed by this? Waiter Bernard Patten. Since moving from his native Dublin in 1985, he’s seen it all, first at the Waldorf-Astoria and then, for the past eighteen years, at Luger. The Williamsburg bastion of dependability has been going through some changes lately — a new steak on the menu, an expanded kitchen, and a new dining room (seen here) that Patten tells us has eased waiting times. In about six months, there will also be an upstairs lounge and bar with an adjoining private-party space. We asked Patten how he’s been weathering the changes.
Coming Soon to Artisanal: Terrance Brennan’s Dream Steak
Despite the sky-high cost of meat and the rarity of aged prime, steaks continue to be a hot investment for today’s restaurateurs. Now even cheese guru Terrance Brennan has joined the bovine gravy train, introducing a whole steak-frites section to the Artisanal menu.
Kinder, Gentler Palm Wants Your Gay Business
Since 1926, the Palm restaurant chain has been feeding its mostly male clientele big steaks, big lobsters, and the big heads of famous people with those scribbly caricatures on the wall. But with the current steakhouse boom — and more competition — the owners of the Palm are trying to move the restaurant away from being an “old boys’ club.” On August 27, the Palm plans to introduce a multi-pronged marketing strategy to freshen up its image: That means targeting women (via salads with enticing, exotic-sounding names like Tequila Shrimp or Raspberry Lobster Tempura) and a younger set (look for bigger bars and ads on VH1).
Red Hook Vendors on the Run Again; Bourdain on ‘Top Chef’With the Parks Department temporarily off their back, the Red Hook food vendors now have a new enemy: the ever-mischievous Department of Health. [Serious Eats]
Related: The Threat to Red Hook’s Street-Food Paradise Unites New York Foodies
Anthony Bourdain doesn’t have any sympathy for last night’s Top Chef loser, Sara: “I’ve worked with women cooks who could crank out a hundred fifty meals off a very busy grill station in freakin’ stilettos and still have the energy to give Howie the beating of his life — so that don’t cut it as an excuse.” Bonus: Bourdain on Rocco’s career arc. [Bravo]
Related: Joey, Latest ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner, on Why Rocco Is a Douche Bag
The hidden food treasures of the Bronx range from an ancient candy store where you can get a classic egg cream to a Chino-Latino place with great shrimp mofungo. [NYP]
Egad! Change at Peter Luger!
How’d we miss this yesterday? Our compatriots at Grub Street report that — are you sitting down? — Peter Luger has changed its menu. (The south-Williamsburg beef temple does, by the way, officially have a menu, though one rarely actually sees, much less uses, one.) After 120 years of serving porterhouse, Luger has added the option of rib eye. Why the change? It seems there just isn’t enough good porterhouse in the city to meet the restaurant’s needs, so the only alternative was to start offering other cuts (or to, as the Grubbies say has recently happened, force some diners to eat fish). Grub Street is not displeased with this development: “Truly great porterhouses are hard to come by; they’re not marbled the way rib eyes are, and they don’t have the same depth of flavor.” Perhaps, but we won’t be eating them. You go to Luger for the experience as much as for the food, and the experience includes porterhouse. We could get a good rib eye without riding the J train.
After 120 Years, Peter Luger Introduces a New Steak [Grub Street]
How to Grill the Great Chain of Being, From Veggies to Steak
Just in time for Independence Day, we here at Grub Street would like to present this how-to guide to frills-free grilling. You will find no special spices, glazes, lavender-honey mustards, or wasabi rubs in this video. All you need is kosher salt, coarse pepper, good olive oil, a bag of Wonder buns, some American cheese, and the right meat and charcoal in order to cook right along with us. (We also recommend imbibing a little more beer than would seem reasonable on a typical afternoon.)
Porchetta Reborn as Carniceria, With Alex Garcia at the HelmThe ghost of Jason Neroni has been banished from Porchetta. The Carroll Gardens restaurant is coming back today as Carniceria, a Latin American steakhouse helmed by Novo and Calle Ocho chef Alex Garcia. Garcia’s menu will center on Uruguayan free-range beef, but he also plans on sophisticated Nuevo Latino appetizers, including oxtail empanadas with tomato escabèche and rosemary Malbec sauce, and a seviche of scallops lightly poached in white wine. “We wanted to change direction and distance ourselves from what happened with Jason,” owner Marco Rivero tells us. Carniceria will be having a soft opening between 7 and 9 p.m. tonight and will formally open this weekend.
Earlier: Porchetta Survives the ‘Desperate Chef’
John’s Is Back, If Not Better Than Ever; Colors in the RedDon’t worry about Lonesome Dove’s Tim Love. He’s doing fine back in Texas. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
John’s reopens, none the worse for wear after their brief run-in with the Health Department. [amNY]
Colors, the cooperative founded by former Windows on the World workers, continues to struggle with the economic realities of opening and running a Manhattan restaurant. [NYT]
Back of the House
Does David Burke Come With That Steakhouse?B.R. Guest, the mammoth restaurant group behind Dos Caminos, Ruby Foo’s, and a lot of other big-money operations, is installing a steakhouse in the old Park Avenue Country Club space. The question is, will it be a sister to their hugely successful David Burke Primehouse in Chicago, or just another run-of-the-mill meatery? Burke tells us that negotiations are ongoing (the company is currently giving the name as “Prime’s”). But what’s holding up the negotiation?
Bourdain Talks Smack About Chodorow, Others; The Joys of Rotting MeatThe joys of rotting meat, as explained by Robert’s Steakhouse chef Adam Perry Lang. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Tony Bourdain was captured on video at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival talking shit about Food Network personalities to a crowd. [Snack]
… And late yesterday, laid into Chodorow using Bruni’s Robert’s Steakhouse review as a pretext: “One might ask if it’s ever a good idea anyway to spend 40,000 bucks reminding the public that the New York Times think you suck.”
The Other Critics
Money Can’t Buy You a Great SteakSteve Cuozzo takes Kobe Club and Quality Meats to task in today’s Post, complaining that they should serve more 28-day dry-aged Prime steaks, “the gold standard.” There’s a reason those restaurants’ steaks aren’t stellar, but their grade and how long they’ve been aged has nothing to do with it.
Back of the House
The Secrets of Steakhouse RichesSmith and Wollensky, which has made a bundle selling unexceptional meat at high prices in a series of nearly identical steakhouses, has been on the upswing even by its ca-ching standards: This past December, the organization raked in over $15 million, up 9 percent from December of the previous year. Which explains why Landry’s Restaurants Inc. has made an offer to buy it. But all this begs a larger question: Why are steakhouses in general so obscenely profitable?
And Adam Platt Saw the Beef, and It Was GoodNew York is teeming with big-deal new steakhouses these days, and New York’s venerable restaurant critic, Adam Platt, has been eating at most of them. Thinking of adding your own offering to the meaty mix? Absolutely free of charge, Platt tells you how to do it right. Over on Grub Street, it’s the Gobbler’s Nine Commandments of New York Steakhouses, running from the first course (“Thou shalt serve a crappy shrimp cocktail”) to the last (“Thou shalt serve very large, though tedious desserts”), with many stops along the way. What are the other seven commandments? Check them out on Grub Street.
The Nine Steakhouse Commandments [Grub Street]
The Nine Steakhouse CommandmentsIn recent weeks, the Gobbler has found himself sitting night after night in a succession of new steakhouses, staring glumly at the mounting platters of T-bone and porterhouse along with thrombotic servings of greasy hash browns and au gratin potato. The Gobbler has nothing against these restaurants per se. He enjoys a good sizzling hunk of cow as much as the next fellow. But the presence of so many high-profile new ones on the landscape is an unsettling sign. Steakhouses don’t perish in times of trouble; they propagate. This fall, the city’s superstar chefs are away opening spinoffs in places like Vegas and Shanghai, and the buzz, to the extent there is any, is being created by aged revivals (like the Russian Tea Room), and new ventures by venerable out-of-towners (like L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon). Into this vacuum, invariably, rush more steakhouses. The recipe for the successful New York chophouse is precise, however, and you tinker with it at your peril. So here is the Gobbler’s list of random, highly subjective Steakhouse Commandments.