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Times Critic Declares Red Hook Tavern’s Burger Better Than Peter Luger’s

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Times critic Pete Wells doles out a star to Red Hook Tavern

Steak, salad with bacon, clams, a burger, and head-on prawns at Red Hook Tavern Jean Schwarzwalder/Eater

Red Hook Tavern’s cheeseburger is a “mandatory” New York City burger, Times critic Pete Wells declares in his one-star review of Hometown Bar-B-Que owner Billy Durney’s new restaurant.

Of all the meat on the menu, the critic says the Peter Luger-inspired burger comes out on top: Wells calls the burger an “absolutely mandatory” addition to New York’s pub burger scene — and claims it’s better than the one at Peter Luger.

Like Peter Luger, Red Hook Tavern employs a toasted and buttered hard roll with a smattering of sesame seeds — about as many as the stars you can see in the sky over Manhattan on a very clear night. In both places, the patties are made with some portion of dry-aged prime beef, stand about an inch and a half tall, and possess a dark crust that fills your head with the instinct-triggering aromas and flavors whose creation in browned meat was described by Louis Camille Maillard.

The important difference between the burgers, though, is that lately Peter Luger’s have tended to be better in memory than in reality, while the Red Hook Tavern’s is, right now, one of the few absolutely mandatory burgers in New York City.

Wells also digs chef Allison Plumer’s “excellent” dry-aged steak (“impressively browned and served with a small cast-iron skillet full of creamed spinach, a touch so right it may qualify as art”), as well as her ham and cheddar croquettes, which come served on a creamy pool of Dijonnaise. But still, he finds that nothing quite matches up to that burger, though he throws some praise on the drink menu for its eccentric wines and beers.

Dishes like the roasted corn and littlenecks steamed with “way too much stale, acrid garlic” can be skipped, the critic advises. One star.

Red Hook Tavern

329 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 Visit Website