Peter Luger's zero-star review will still lure people willing to pay

A tough review of America’s most famous steakhouse won’t stop people from shelling out hundreds of dollars to eat its meat, according to some experts.

Peter Luger, the iconic New York steakhouse that’s become a nationally known dining destination for its $230 porterhouse for four got skewered by New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, who gave the Brooklyn chophouse a zero-star review Tuesday for being overpriced, having poor service and inconsistent food. But restaurant insiders say it won’t stop some die-hard carnivores from shelling out for a meal.

“Peter Luger is an institution. There’s no critic who will be able to take that restaurant down,” Chris Coombs, a Boston-based restaurateur, and owner of the steakhouse Boston Chops told FOX Business. “You have generations of people who have been going there for years. Just because that concept hasn’t necessarily aged well with the standards of food critics, does not strip Peter Luger of its novelty.”

The cash-only steakhouse, which has been open since 1887, has mostly remained a time capsule. Diners had to call in to get a reservation up until this month when the restaurant started taking reservations online via the booking site Resy for the first time. Resy would not comment on whether or not more people were trying to reserve a table or drop their reservation at Peter Luger following the review, but tables for dinner appeared to be booked through December when Fox Business looked after the New York Times published its review.

New York's iconic steakhouse Peter Luger earned a scathing zero-star review from the New York Times. (Google Street View). 

It’s gotten increasingly more expensive to eat at the restaurant over the years. The price of a porterhouse for two increased from $79.90 to $81 in 2007, Slate reported. And in 2010, the price of the same porterhouse for two went up to $84, according to The bill for dinner for an order of the restaurant’s signature slabs of bacon, steak for two and creamed spinach cost $152 before tip, according to a Yelp user.

Wells said the food isn’t worth the price tag.

“And after I’ve paid, there is the unshakable sense that I’ve been scammed,” Wells wrote in his review.

Peter Luger did not immediately return a Fox Business request for comment.

Some eaters agreed, noting in the comments section of the article that the restaurant has lost its touch over the years.

“Each time I’ve dined there recently, another bit of magic dies and I question why I return and spend so much money there,” a commentator from Long Island City, Queens posted in the comments section below the review.


Others say Peter Luger's expansion into other markets like its Long Island City, New York outpost may have taken away from its original brand.

“It’s a cultural phenomenon that can’t be replicated. This is an example of how a great beloved local place that has a national reputation and keeps spawning spin-offs makes the original not so special anymore,” Clark Wolf, a New York City-based restaurant consultant said.

While New Yorkers may be turning up their noses, the demand from tourists could still remain. Indeed, Food tourism is on the rise, with 61% of Americans saying they would travel an hour or more to eat at a restaurant on their wish list, and 44% of Americans said they would book a flight, train ticket or even take a road trip to get there, according to a survey from travel booking site Kayak and restaurant reservation service OpenTable. And respondents voted a steakhouse -- Musso & Frank Grill in Los Angeles -- as one of the top 25 restaurants worth traveling for.


Others, like a commentator named Aaron from Boca Raton, Fla., had no gripes about the food at Peter Luger but had a bone to pick with the service instead.

“I’ve always had what I consider a great meal, but Wells has one thing right. There is no excuse for totally ignoring a patron’s reservations when paying megabucks to be fed. I’ve never had to wait less than a half-hour to be seated,” he wrote.

Wolf says the scathing review is a memo to the management.

“This [review] will give them a kick in the butt to improve or render this landmark review-proof. In other words, it lowers expectations because people go because they want to go,” Wolf said.