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The Payoff: Peter Luger Steakhouse

Today, as expected, Frank Bruni awarded a weak two stars to Peter Luger Steakhouse, a downgrade from its former rating of three stars. The review practically wrote itself. Simply put, the restaurant doesn’t deliver excellence as consistently as it used to. With a multitude of Luger clones in Manhattan that are as good or better, one can no longer turn a blind eye to the restaurant’s many faults. Indeed, from the text of the review, Bruni could easily have justified just one star, rather than the two he gave.

Bruni’s timing is certainly open to question. The review mentioned that renovations are in progress. As there was no particular urgency for this review, would it not have been better to wait until the remodeling was complete? The only thing that has really changed since Ruth Reichl’s 1997 review is the addition of a rib steak to the menu (which Bruni loved both times he tried it).

With Luger’s demotion, New York is now without a three-star steakhouse. Given Bruni’s obvious affection for the format, I have to wonder if he’s looking for an excuse to award the third star to his own personal favorite of the bunch. I’m not sure which steakhouse it would be, as there is no obvious front-runner for the title. I also know that some people feel that steakhouses are too formulaic, and shouldn’t qualify for three stars no matter how good they are, but I don’t buy that argument.

Eater and I both took the two-star bet at 2–1 odds. We both win $2 on our hypothetical one-dollar bets.

          Eater        NYJ
Bankroll $42.50   $46.67
Gain/Loss +2.00   +2.00
Total $44.50   $48.67
 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Won–Lost 18–5   17–6

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