I've never seen anything but stellar reviews for House of Prime Rib. As a result, I took my boyfriend here for his 29th birthday last week. I ordered the City Cut ($27.85) which is the petite cut, and he got the standard House of Prime Rib Cut ($29.85).
We were excited because the price includes lots of side dishes. I was particularly fond of the salad with a nice sherry (I believe) vinaigrette. Even the boyfriend who doesn't like salad dressing liked it. Unfortunately, that was the high point of our meal.
Our prime rib cuts arrived - my City Cut looked like a perfect medium and appeared wonderfully tender. However, it had no flavor. None. It seriously had none of that distinctive prime rib taste, and I honestly wouldn't have been to tell it apart from another cut if only going by taste.
The travesty, however, was my boyfriend's cut. He also ordered medium, but his piece was bordering on well done. Also, it wasn't a nice slice like mine. His was weird - like an end piece - with big bones sticking out and lots of visible gristle. I told him to send it back, but he didn't want to cause a fuss. He soldiered on and ended up eating lots of substandard fatty and gristly edge pieces. I slipped him many pieces of my prime rib which looked positively mouth-watering by comparison (and had a lot more edible pieces than his despite my ordering a smaller cut).
Of course, he realized too late that you can get more complimentary slices of prime rib upon request, but by then he said he felt full (and a bit disgusted) from all the meat and fat. He regretted not sending it back in the first place, but then again mine wasnt all that good either.
The sides that came with the prime rib were fine but nothing to write home about creamed spinach, mashed potatoes and gravy, interesting Yorkshire pudding, and a corn muffin that I initially couldnt tell was a corn muffin by the taste. Bread was good. But I shouldnt have to list that as a highlight.
Since it was his birthday, our server brought out a wine glass with a scoop of raspberry sorbet (this seems to be standard for birthdays). However, in all seriousness it was 1.5 inches in diameter. No kidding. Id be embarrassed to give that out as my complimentary dessert.
Our server was very nice, though there were lots of lags between courses. The décor was interesting and clubby. But the next time I want rock salt roasted prime rib Im staying clear of this place, and going to the restaurant the serves the best Ive tried. I know this may vex Chowhounders since this place seems to be universally panned here. The restaurant? Skates on the Bay in Berkeley.
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