Although we receive the New York Times at home (and thus get full access to the Times' site), with the demise of its pay service, Times Select, all of the Times is more accessible.
After reading an old article on the Jews in Spain (which may still be covered by restrictions for some readers), I followed links to two Wine & Food section reviews from this week's Times: one on wines under $10, and the other on Peter Luger's steakhouse, I then clicked on reader reviews of Peter Luger's and found this enchanting one posted yesterday by an anonymous Times reader:
Memories of Peter Luger Steak House, September 21, 2007
The Peter Lugers in Manhasset, LI, NY is still there, still as busy as it was many years ago, where I had my first real date. The young man had asked my father for permission to take me out and my father told him, she is too young. I was 16, the boy was 18 at the time. After a week of pestering my parents, they relented and said, you can go but only for lunch. Then mother called the boy's mother and they discussed, where will the children go to eat. The boy's mother mentioned Peter Lugers Steak House, on the following Saturday.
The day came, I was all excited, Edward was prompt and was dressed in a suit, shirt and tie. My father told him to drive carefully, asked what time we would be home and off we went. Edward ordered a steak for two and it was the best steak I had eaten, at the tender age of 16.
The food was great, but I really didn't hit it off with Edward. He was just too stuffy and as somber as the brown suit he was wearing. On the way home, I thanked him for a lovely afternoon. He said, I'll call you later in the week and when he did, asking me to go out again, I told him, I don't think so. Well, he ranted, after all the money he spent at Peter Lugers for lunch and you don't want to see me anymore?
So, through the years, when I have lunch/dinner at Peter Lugers, the thought of Edward comes to mind, the money he spent to impress me, then being rejected by a 16-year-old girl. I wonder, if Edward still goes to Peter Lugers?
Although I vividly remember my first date (with Lynn), I have very little memory of the first nice restaurant to which I took a date — and in Rockford, Illinois, there are (and were) no restaurants that could compete with Peter Luger's. I'm embarrassed that I'm not even 100% certain which of two young women I went on that date with. (If it occurred in 9th grade it would have been Lynn and in 10th grade it probably would have been Ann, who is now deceased. How strange it is to be at an age when more than a couple of one's high school friends are dead of natural causes.) I remember that night having tortellini for the first time, but I can't remember the name of the restaurant or, more crucially, my companion for the evening.
If I had to cite an eye-opening great meal, I would pick Taillevent in Paris in about 1983, with my wife Valerie and Andrew Kull (then a lawyer in Paris, now a professor at BU). Sitting at the next table was Warren Schwartz, a law professor from Georgetown. Mr. Vrinat was a charming host, the Raveneau Chablis was the first great white wine I'd ever had, and the food was well beyond anything I had experienced in the US. I had a heavenly mushroom pastry for the first course. Andy and I had a seafood sausage for the main course, but I got a generous taste of my wife's extraordinary turbot, which (having had it several times since) remains my favorite main course in the world. We concluded the meal with Taillevent's chocolate marquise with pistachio sauce. Kull, who was then familiar with most of the top restaurants in France, once memorably called Taillevent "home cookin'" because its food was a tad less precious than the other great temples of French cuisine. It's not surprising, then, that he had his wedding dinner there.