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Review

Mary Lagier

House Of Prime Rib

$$$$
Written by
Mary Lagier

The second you step foot into House of Prime Rib, you’re going to want a martini. Even if you haven’t touched vodka or gin in years, you’ll head to the bar and order one without giving it a second thought, as if some higher power is compelling you to do so. And yes, it’ll come with a sidecar. This sudden urge to dive head first into old school excess is what makes House of Prime Rib feel so different, and there aren’t many restaurant experiences you can have that’ll be burned into your memory quite like your first trip here.

House of Prime Rib has been open since the 1940s, and it’s as notorious as the name is ridiculous. Walking in here is like going to a Renaissance festival, except instead of jousting knights and turkey legs, it’s full of gigantic bottles of wine, pictures of royal guards, and a well-choreographed staff pushing around giant zeppelins full of meat. The waiting area is always packed with people standing two deep at the bar and you’ll see everyone from families celebrating to guys who come here once a month as an excuse to wear a suit to tourists who wandered in off the street hoping that they could eat like a British monarch for a night. It’s controlled chaos, but in the best possible way.

You know what you’re here to eat, but when you open the menu, it’s still a bit shocking how few choices you have. A full dinner includes whatever meat you want, along with a few sides that have no idea what decade it is, like Yorkshire pudding, a baked potato, and creamed spinach. Overall, there are six entrees to pick from, five of which are different cuts of prime rib and a sixth option of fish that seems more like a joke than anything else. You choose how much prime rib you want, how you’d like it cooked, and how thick you want it cut. After that, you get pulled into the show. Aside from the actual cooking, everything here is prepared table-side - salads spin over bowls of ice while dressing gets poured over them from as high as your server can reach, meat is carved and plated table-side, and baked potatoes are split and set up with all the fixings faster than you could even try to take a picture.

The acrobatics and the scene are gloriously outdated and fun to watch, but the food itself is also a big reason why every room in this palace is always packed. It’s meat and potatoes, plain and simple, but done perfectly in a way that’s difficult to top. You’ll want to eat it all, and after you finish your huge slab of red meat fit for a king, the first thought that’ll cross your mind is to go outside and have a cigarette - not a Juul or a vape pen, an old-fashioned, American cigarette. But before you can enjoy your imaginary smoke break, your server will appear and offer you a second, free piece of prime rib. It’s no wonder the aristocracy suffered from gout.

There’s also a “secret menu” at House of Prime Rib, with things like the well-done rib ends, creamed corn, and mashed potatoes with baked potato fixings. It feels cool to order off menu, but the classics are the classics for a reason. You’re better off sticking with the main menu, especially if you’ve never been here before. Either way, when you’re done, it’s impossible to walk out of here underwhelmed. The largest cut of prime rib will run you $49, which might seem like a lot for one piece of meat, but combined with all the sides and experience itself, it’s more than worth the price of admission. You may leave knowing that you’ll never come back here, or you might make a tradition out of this place, but no matter what, you’ll never forget the first time you went to House of Prime Rib.

Food Rundown

House Salad

A mixed green salad tossed in their house dressing that has its own cult following. It’s a pretty filling salad, which seems like a bad idea before this meal, but somehow it works.

House Of Prime Rib Cut Prime Rib

The classic, perfected. We’d happily trade places with this to swim in the gravy it’s doused in.

King Henry VIII Cut Prime Rib

A somehow more massive slab of prime rib. Just as satisfying as the smaller one, but large enough to maybe take a nap on. This is the only cut from the “secret menu” that you can get seared and you should.

English Cut Prime Rib

More prime rib, but cut into thinner, more manageable slabs. The thinner pieces are easier to take down and somehow make the prime rib taste meatier. We’re starting a three-year study on how this works, but for now, just get one person at your table to order this. That way, you’ll know better next time.

Fish

Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

Potatoes

This is what you picture when you think of a baked potato. It’s got the classic set up with butter, sour cream, bacon bits, and chives. It could easily be a meal in itself, but at the House of Prime Rib, physics don’t matter and this is just a side. The mashed potatoes are also great, but the baked version has the upper hand, and leaves more juice on the plate for the Yorkshire pudding.

Yorkshire Pudding

We would eat these at every meal for the rest of our lives and if they weren’t on the menu, you’d be stuck licking your plate clean like a complete animal.

Creamed Spinach

The Academy struggles every time the creamed spinach comes up for an award - it is technically a supporting actor, but it’s so clearly a star in its own right. This stuff has more pork in it than a whole slab of bacon, and it shouldn’t be any other way.

Creamed Corn

Good, but not even close to the spinach.

Fantasy Cake

Triple-layer chocolate, chocolate mousse, and cheesecake in a pool of raspberry sauce. It’s a classic dessert and the perfect way to finish the meal if you find yourself done with your mains and not simultaneously clutching your heart with one hand and dialing 911 with the other.

Cocktails

When you’re here, you’ll want to drink something like a martini or a Manhattan, and when you do, it comes with a sidecar. Two drinks for the price of one and it’s not even Happy Hour.

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