“cold latex dipped in ketchup and horseradish”

cold latex dipped in ketchup and horseradish

“Some things are the same as ever. The shrimp cocktail has always tasted like cold latex dipped in ketchup and horseradish. The steak sauce has always tasted like the same ketchup and horseradish fortified by corn syrup.”

That’s just one of the memorable lines from Pete Wells, the restaurant critic at the New York Times, writing about the once “famous,” now likely “infamous,” Peter Luger Steak House. 

In some ways I was reluctant to write this post, even though I’ve been feeling like I should for months now. Then, there appeared a scathing restaurant review in the New York Times. No, scathing is not the word, a NO STARS review is the word!

“The Department of Motor Vehicles is a block party compared with the line at Peter Luger.”

“I know there was a time the German fried potatoes were brown and crunchy, because I eagerly ate them each time I went. Now they are mushy, dingy, gray and sometimes cold. I look forward to them the way I look forward to finding a new, irregularly shaped mole.”

Wonderful lines, aren’t they? It’s lines like these that could help bring back the art of criticism, the noble pursuit of telling people precisely why something is not good. 

Inspired by this great criticism; the clear, precise, and indisputable truth put down with great writing, I’m returning to a brand I was once a fan of to tell you why it no longer sizzles, why it’s not good.

Peter Luger Used to Sizzle. Now It Sputters.

To me, the shoe above is the equivalent of this

a Peter Luger Steak House steak: too much, an unattractive mess. It’s of another era, but trying to be “hip.” Why an “ombré” shoe? Why an ombré shoe that looks like a woman walked to a wedding, through a coal mine? Why an ombré shoe that is so poorly executed? Whose shoe is it?

MGemi. Once, I really liked this brand, I saw them as doing something innovative: relatively inexpensive shoes you tried on in a “studio” setting, then ordered online.

The shoes were made in Italy by small makers and artisans. The designs were well made “classics.” 

Soon after they opened, I rushed down to the shop in Soho to try on a pair of suede slides similar to this, satin one. I liked them, I really liked them, and I got behind MGemi.

As a matter of fact, I looked back to find twelve posts where I have mentioned MGemi in the past! Here’s another.

But MGemi seems to have gone the way of Peter Luger. The shoes are just not what they used to be. This summer, when I went downtown to try on a platform style sandal I was interested in, I was thoroughly disappointed.

While the shoe looked good on the shelf, when I tried it on, it was so heavy that when I walked I felt like I had stepped in and was lifting a pound of thick mud every time I picked up my foot.

The shoe just hung there, it did not become a part of my foot, like a good shoe does. 

Is is sad to say I was sad? Yes absolutely, good shoes these days seem to cost a fortune. I just don’t know what to tell you. It’s my belief though, that it’s better to buy one pair of shoes like these, than three pairs from an inferior brand, one pair of which seems to be the only one you wear.

Is MGemi sputtering or has the fire gone out? I hope not.


“As age becomes reality, I think we start to retreat, we retract, we become protective, we become secluded, and we begin to ossify.”

—Twyla Tharp, author of Keep It Moving

Photo: Ruven Afanador/New York Magazine



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