After swilling young zinfandels all day long at January’s ZAP festival, our usual post-tasting dinner was not at R&G Lounge this year, but shifted to House of Prime Rib (HOPR). Our companions were a band of brothers and their dad, who’ve had a family tradition of eating here for decades. While this was my first time at HOPR, I’ve read so much about it over the years on this board, that I could recite chapter and verse for every question posed by our other friend who was getting an introduction as well. It was funny when he asked about the “UFOs”, the silvery serving carts described by an earlier generation as “Zeppelins”.
Exterior of House of Prime Rib on Saturday night:
The bar and lounge were standing room only, the reception desk was jammed, and there were people milling around outside as well. Yet we were seated within 5 minutes of our appointed reservation time. My friends’ favorite server wasn’t in that night, but our guy did a great job. When we later learned that this was his first week on the job, we were shocked as he was so at ease, answering the question about the fresh fish of the day, “it’s salmon, but you don’t want it, get the prime rib.”
Another staffer came around to open and serve the bottles of wine (1996 Robert Arnoux “Les Chaumes”, 1982 Cos d’Estournel, and the corked 1999 J. Rochioli “East Block” Pinot Noir) we’d brought. He replaced the set of stemware on the table with something more appropriate for the wines.
The corn muffins were nice and warm, and my friends warned me to not fill up on bread to leave maximum room for the meat to come and seconds if we wanted. The salad was well-tossed and not overdressed to me, but I have lost my taste for the added seasoned salt. The pasty-textured and bland creamed spinach was much inferior to the version at Alfred’s and the corn was not that interesting either. But I did like the silky mashed potatoes and gravy a lot.
I went with the House of Prime Rib cut, requested with the rib bone and rare enough for me. Juicy and buttery soft, this was a lovely hunk of aged meat with an even degree of doneness. Yet, I did find that I missed a well-browned fatty crust and more done cap meat.
House of Prime Rib cut
None of us had room for the second helping offered us or dessert. The tab came to $60 per person including corkage and a generous tip. With many bones and leftovers in our doggy bags to go, our canine friends at home also ate well.
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