Friday, March 16, 2007

It's What's For Dinner

Wolfgang's Steakhouse
4 Park Ave (33rd Street)
New York, NY 10016-5339
(212) 889-3369


It's hard for me to believe my good friend Eric is leaving New York City. Alas, as he explained last night, "there was time when I got more out of the city, but now, the city gets more out of me." So, in honor of his migration north I suggested that we celebrate with a farewell dinner at a place he'll really miss when he's gone: Peter Luger, the venerable Williamsburg steakhouse. Eric, you see, is in league with historic T-rex as one of the world's great carnivores. And Peter Luger is the best steak in the world. Or, is it?

"Make it Wolfgang's and you got a deal!" Eric suggested.

Wolfgang's it is. At some point in Luger history it seems a wall came down and waiters and Maitre D's bonded in servitude to Peter Luger for decades suddenly bought their freedom, and left to make their own meaty futures, with Luger's beef connections, cooking process and steaksauce recipe in hand. Wolfgang's is one such place. Is it better than the Original? Well, it certainly is a lot nicer than the beerhall that is Peter Luger. It's easier to get to. They serve a mean cocktail, unlike Luger, of which I had too many last night. The waiters are not as crusty as Luger's. And, they take all major credit cards.

As for the menu, it's pretty much the same, which is just fine when you're being compared to Peter Luger. If you've never done a great New York Steakhouse, pay attention. This is how you do it: First, go with a fearless friend, like Eric. Daintiness is not tolerable. Second, forget wine. You want a draft beer or a cocktail. Next, sart with a strip of charred canadian bacon. Yes, bacon. It may sound like a bit much but it really sets off the palate, especially for the next course: oysters and little neck clams on the half shell. Then, the main event: steak for two, medium rare, served sizzling, the bone blackened, the meat crisp on the outside and perfectly red on the inside. For sides, German potato salad and creamed spinach. For dessert, well, why have the sorbet now? Go for the chocolate-chip chocolate sundae.

I couldn't have imagined a better meal for Eric and me to share. We ate and drank for three hours before saying goodbye. I understand what Eric means when he says the city is now getting more out of him. But certainly I got more out of the city for having Eric here, and it won't be the same without him.--F

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