It pains me to post these pictures, not because of incriminating content or the caddle prod I’m sitting on, but because the thought of food disgusts me right now. That is the effect of a visit from my parents: they suck my will to eat.
Ugh, food. I hate it. How do we eat so much of it? I never want to see it again, much less blog about it. From now on this blog will focus solely on obscure show tunes. Who prefers “Ah But Underneath” to “Lucy and Jessie” in Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies”?
Ok ok, so last night we went with the R family to the new go-to steakhouse in Manhattan, Wolfgang’s. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of Wolfgang’s: the head waiter at Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn (one of the premiere steakhouses in the United States) deflected and opened his own place. That place is Wolfgang’s. We ate there.
The R family brought along their sons, Andrew and Jeffrey, one of whom actually had eaten at Luger’s. So he had a frame of reference.
(Guy in pink shirt is our frame of reference.)
Right away, Andrew pointed out the differneces. “Luger’s is a real steakhouse,” he said, “there’s sawdust on the floor.”
I dropped a fork to look for sawdust. No luck.
Instead, we were presented with a basket of bread:
I love eggy onion rolls loaded with butter. No wonder I hate food right now.
Anyway, the acoustics in Wolfgang’s were awful. See, there was this tiled ceiling:
It was indeed beautiful. But the effect was to carry strange conversations across the room without any evidence of their source. I overheard one girl say something along the lines of: “He doesn’t call me? Fuck him.” I immediately whipped out my cell phone and called her. She didn’t answer. Fuck her.
Now then, the real glue that binds our family and the R family together is the bond between mom and the R matriarch, Stephanie:
Mom and Stephanie met when we lived in Oceanside, NY (where I grew up for 11 years). The Rs were our across the street neighbors. Mom used to watch Andrew ride his tricycle; and Stephanie used to marvel at how early mom put me to bed.
“It’s 6 pm,” she’d say, “and he’s already asleep?”
It is the stuff of legend.
You know how good writers can weave disparate elements into a solid piece?
The salad and appetizers arrived. I ordered the Wolfgang’s salad which consisted of shrimp and bacon (really thick, squares of bacon) on a wedge of iceberg lettuce:
It was pretty tasty. Jeffrey got the raw oysters:
I’d never had a raw oyster, so I tried one. “Let it slide down your throat,” offered Jeffrey. I did. It tasted like what it looked like, which wasn’t entirely bad. The cocktail sauce helped. (I couldn’t help but remember the Punky Brewster episode where she’s adopted by really rich people and, in an attempt to eat an oyster, it slips down her shirt. Is it any coincidence that years later, Soleil Moon Frye had breast reduction surgery? Oysters are like breast fertilizer. No wonder they’re an aphordisiac.)
No one goes to Peter Luger’s and/or Wolfgang’s for the oysters or the salads or the camraderie. They go for the meat. Big, heaping plates of meat. Apparently, the process is complex enough to launch its own Da Vinci code. Suffice it to say, there’s aging involved. And cows. Many, many cows.
The waiter urged us (forcefully so) to share the Porterhouse. Since everyone was fussy about how we liked it cook, only Jeffrey and I were sympatico enough to share and order it Medium:
Look at that plate! So hot, in fact, that the waiter serving the steak would lift a piece and then press it on the plate’s edge causing it to sizzle and sear. He offered to pour some juice from the plate on top. I gave in.
The meat tasted terrific. Was this the placebo effect? Ya know—tell someone something is something and they’ll believe it. “This medicine will cure you” (and it’s a tic-tac.) “This beef is the best in the world” (and it’s nuclear cow). Maybe. But the flavor was complex and rich. The texture was tender and just chewy enough. And though it’s slightly sacrilege to pour steak sauce on the plate when eating world class steak, I thought I’d try Wolfgang’s signature sauce. Unfortuantely, the sauce thought it would try me and came pouring out with intense conviction. My plate was soon coated. No matter—I built a dam with potatoes and all was well.
So the steak gone what else was there?
“At Luger’s,” explained Andrew, “they have this dessert called Schlagg.”
“What’s Schlagg?” I pressed.
“It’s basically whipped cream,” he answered. “But better.”
Could my stomach hold any more? Why did it still feel like there was room? Was this a trick of the mind?
Didn’t matter because it’s mom’s birthday and we ordered a sundae with a candle.
Then we ordered more sundaes. The sundaeshad Schlagg. The Schlagg was delicious. I felt like I might die:
To say I was stuffed is like saying G. Gordan Liddy is bald. I was beyond bald. I mean stuffed. I insisted on walking home. (Granted, it was only 6 blocks).
And while my Wolfgang’s experience was incredibly delicious, there was discontent regarding the service. M, the R family dad, ordered several things that were never brought. Cappucino and cake, for example. And the waiter was pretty absent–our meal took three hours. Some of the dishes came out faster than others, so some were eating while others weren’t. And water glasses went frequently unfilled.
Some say that’s the legacy of Peter Luger’s too. Jaded world-weary waiters. Fair enough. Service is an area that a young restaurant can improve upon. The food’s where it counts, and the food was great. Too great, in fact. It’s forced me into retirement. Now on to mom’s birthday dinner…