Peter Luger’s menu has changed about as much as Stonehenge: You can get a porterhouse steak, lamb chops, hash browns, and tomato-and-onion salad. Technically, there’s salmon on the menu and maybe a few other sides, and they did add bacon, but the genius of the place has been in its simplicity. But as of last month, a rib-eye steak, a relative bargain at $38.95, is for sale. (The slim, seldom-ordered single strip steak is the same price.) It’s the restaurant’s first new steak in 120 years. Why the sudden change?
Simply said, there just aren’t enough porterhouses to sate their rabid customer base and still maintain a semblance of quality. Customers have been complaining forever (see this Chowhound thread) that the steak isn’t what it used to be at Luger. There’s a shortage of great meat in general in this city, and even the restaurant’s promiscuous practice of buying from vendors all over town can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Some months ago, they were even telling diners without reservations that they would have to eat fish! Customers could be forgiven for thinking that the end-times had come. Introducing the rib eye is a good change, not a sign that the sky is falling. 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. Breaking a 120-year-old tradition might be the best thing that ever happened to Peter Luger.