beef reviews Southern California

Lawry’s the Prime Rib

Lawry’s the Prime Rib is a Los Angeles institution that has been serving basically one thing, beautiful roasted prime ribs of beef, since it opened in 1938. It made dinner a spectacle when Lawry’s founder Lawrence Frank invented the rolling silver serving carts that keep the meat fresh so that every diner can have their prime rib carved to order and served tableside. The Spinning Salad is kinda corny and isn’t that great, but watching the servers make it is always fun and adds to the “experience.” The restaurant was also a vehicle to promote Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, a key ingredient in the prime rib that is now a fixture in pantries and spice racks around the world.

I normally order the standard Lawry’s cut, medium rare, with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. Yorkshire pudding is always puffy and golden brown and is great for picking up the excess jus. The food is almost always perfect, and the service is attentive, fast and hasn’t changed in decades. They hold several tables for walk-ins, but you should make reservations well in advance, and they’ve just started using Open Table for online reservations.

The Lawry’s dining experience makes it a great special occasion restaurant. In fact, my wife and I wanted our friends and family to enjoy the Lawry’s experience so much that we had our wedding reception there in 2005. If you’re willing to do a lunch reception, the food is so much better than hotel food, and it’s much cheaper than any other venue in the area. The entire Lawry’s staff was professional, efficient, and flexible, and they worked with our ideas to help make everything perfect. The great staff and service, coupled with family, friends and great food, helped make our reception truly memorable.

if you do decide to have your reception here, join Lawry’s VIP Rewards program. You get a $25 certificate for every 250 points ($250) you accrue, and these certificates are valid at any restaurant in the Lawry’s family. Let’s say you spend $10K on your wedding reception. This means you’ll get 40 $25 certificates. That’s $1000 worth of food! You can give them to friends, family, coworkers, or just keep them for yourself…we’ve had plenty of free meals courtesy of Lawry’s since our reception.

We all know that food tastes better when it’s free, but at a place like Lawry’s, it’s truly out of this world.

Lawry’s The Prime Rib
100 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211 map
Web site

beef chicken sous vide techniques

Adventures in Sous Vide

It was an incredible meal at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA, that introduced me to the concept of sous vide cooking. Sous vide is French for “under vacuum,” and in a cooking context, it means that food is vacuum packed and “processed” in a water or steam bath at a fixed temperature for a long period of time…sometimes 24 hours or more. The temperature of the food never rises above the temperature of the water, so it’s impossible to overcook the food.

For example, a 36 or 48-hour “braise” for short ribs (below) would be excessive using a traditional braise, but when it’s done sous vide, the vacuum packing allows the meat to maintain its original size and shape, the long cooking time lets the collagens in the meat break down, and it produces a final product that’s tender with a buttery texture and an intense, concentrated beef flavor you just can’t get from a old-school cooking methods.

short ribs

Sous vide cooking is simple in concept but harder to execute in real life because it either requires potentially expensive equipment or a lot of free time to babysit the food. The most important aspect is maintaining constant temperature; a variance of a degree or two can dramatically change the texture of the food. The most common way sous vide cooking is performed in high-end restaurants is by using a water bath that’s heated using an immersion circulator, a piece of laboratory equipment that both heats and circulates water so that the temperature remains constant.

Heated immersion circulators are not cheap; they can go for around $1,000 new, so we turned to everyone’s favorite garage sale (ebay) to get ours. We picked up a Julabo HC8 that’s so old it says “MADE IN WEST GERMANY” on the back. It’s digital which makes it easier to monitor, and there’s a whole bunch of other controls on it that I really don’t understand. But it turns on and it works, and that’s all that matters. We got it for $110 ($95 + $10 shipping).

Julabo heating circulator and water bath

Our vacuum sealer is a Tilia Advance Foodsaver v2490 BC from Costco, which I highly recommend because it has a “pulse” feature that lets you customize how much air you want to remove from the bag before sealing. Our water bath is a simple Lexan hotel pan (1/2 size x 6 inches) made by Cambro that I picked up at Smart & Final. They also had flip-top lids with an opening that was perfect (after popping off the lid) for suspending the Julabo above the water bath since ours didn’t come with any clamps or other mounting equipment.

The most information you’re going to find on sous vide on the Web is at the forums. The main sous vide thread has been around since 2004 and is filled with lots of great information on how to get started, recipes, and loads of tips, as well as the safety concerns that accompany this form of cooking.

Here’s some of the things we’ve made so far.

Rib Eye Steaks
Barbecue Chicken
Baby Back Ribs (Filipino-style Adobo and a traditional dry rub)
Beef Short Ribs
Seasoned Wild Turbot Fillets

I hope to chronicle some of our experiments here on the blog, so this list will grow, and links to these dishes are forthcoming.

beef grilling Northern California recipes Southern California steak

Summer Grilling – Steaks

I love grilled meat, but I love it even more in the summertime. This past 4th of July, we had a mini family reunion, and as usual, I was asked to grill some meat. I wanted to keep it simple, so I grilled some New York Strips and did an easy BBQ chicken recipe that I’ve been using for years.

finished steak

Steaks are pretty easy to make, and I don’t see why people are so amazed when I grill them. I had five steaks to work with, so I decided to do two different preparations. Three steaks were rubbed with olive oil to coat and then seasoned with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper on both sides. On the other two steaks, I used Emeril’s Southwest Essence as a rub. I don’t normally use Emeril’s products, but we had the bottle buried in our pantry, so I thought I’d use it. It worked out really nicely.

Classic Grilled New York Steaks

New York Steaks
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
Olive Oil (approx 1 tbsp. per steak)

Classic Steak


  1. One hour before grillling, remove steaks from the refrigerator so they can get up to room temperature.
  2. Rub each steak with olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle each side of steak with kosher salt

Southwest New York Strips

Emeril’s Southwest Essence (or use your favorite rub)
New York Steaks

Southwest Steak


  1. The night before you grill, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel.
  2. Sprinkle rub mixture on steaks so that there’s an even coating on all sides.
  3. One hour before grilling, remove steaks from refrigerator so they can get up to room temperature.


For medium rare, I generally cook the steaks for 4 minutes per side. Add or subtract a minute depending on your desired doneness. If you want to make cross-hatched grill marks on the meat, turn the steaks 90 degrees after 2 minutes.

To check for doneness more accurately, use a digital instant-read thermometer to monitor the temperature of the meat (med. rare is somewhere between 130-135 degrees)

Ad Hoc beef reviews sous vide Thomas Keller

Ad Hoc (06.30.07)

Washington Street is an unassuming country road in the Napa Valley that also happens to be the epicenter of Thomas Keller’s culinary empire. His flagship restaurant, The French Laundry, put Yountville on the map, but Keller also operates Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery, and the happy accident down the street known as Ad Hoc.

As its name implies, Ad Hoc was supposed to be a temporary six-month experiment before Keller opened a restaurant specializing in gourmet burgers and wine. But Ad Hoc proved to be so popular that it’s now become a permanent member of Keller’s restaurant family, and the “burgers and bottles” concept was put on the back burner.


ad hoc

Under the leadership of Chef Dave Cruz, Ad Hoc serves a different four-course set menu every night, showcasing the best of American comfort food, including braised beef short ribs, roasted Kurobuta pork, hangar steaks and their legendary fried chicken. Each meal consists of a salad course, main course, cheese course and dessert. If you finish your meal and want a bit more, you can always ask for seconds and they’ll happily bring you more. Wine selections are plentiful, and the young, energetic staff is happy to help you pick an appropriate wine.

When we arrived, I got excited when I saw that we were getting braised beef short ribs. I didn’t really care about anything else on the menu because there are only a few things I love in this world more than a braised beef short rib. This evening’s menu:


Frisee and Mache Salad
shredded Liberty Farms duck leg shaved celery, cornichons, fried capers,
duck skin cracklins and a creamy garlic dressing 


Braised Beef Short Ribs
baby leeks and fennel, fingerling potatoes, sofrito,
orange zest and spanish black olives


Cana de Oveja
camembert with K & J Farms nectarines


Mixed Berries and Cream
house-made granola

The Frisee and Mache Salad was excellent, especially when you consider that I’m not much of a duck fan because I usually find it too fatty and the flavor can be overwhelming. But this duck leg was the exact opposite; it was succulent and flavorful without dominating the salad, and I forgot I was eating duck for a second. Fried capers were a revelation…they look like they burst open, kind of like miniature bits of fresh green popcorn (or would that be pop-capers?). The duck skin cracklins were a great substitute for bacon bits; there’s nothing like crunchy fried bird skin is there?


The main course of Braised Beef Short Ribs was an eye-opening entree. Our waiter said the meat was braised for 48 hours, which was confusing to me until one of our dining companions revealed that it was technically a sous vide. I had no idea what a sous vide was at the time, but soon learned that this technique produces some of the most delectable meat I’ve ever eaten. Cutting into the meat was like moving a hot knife through butter, but the meat didn’t fall apart. Each slice of meat melted in my mouth and had a really rich, beefy flavor with a hint of citrus from the orange zest. Not only was this among the finest meat dishes I’ve ever eaten, it made me curious enough about sous vide to explore the possibilities of doing it at home.

The cheese course consisted of Camembert wedges and slices of the freshest nectarines I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. You tend to forget how good fresh fruit really tastes if your only source is the local Safeway.

Dessert was a seemingly simple Mixed Berries and Cream with delicious house-made granola from Bouchon Bakery. The twist here is that the whipped cream is mixed with a little creme fraiche and buttermilk, which made it more decadent than one might think possible. I never thought I would go ga-ga over a blueberry and raspberry parfait, but in the right hands, anything can be positively sinful.

Ad Hoc’s casual atmosphere and easy-going staff make it easy to relax and enjoy a truly superb meal. What’s most striking about the dining experience was the simplicity of the food. It’s basically comfort food that’s been refined or redefined by using different techniques and fresher ingredients that elevate it to a higher level. If Ad Hoc is the low-hanging fruit in the Keller kingdom, then I can only imagine how good the food is at Bouchon and The French Laundry.

I think I’ll start saving my pennies now.

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St.
Yountville, CA 94599 map
Ad Hoc on Urbanspoon

beef Northern California reviews

House of Prime Rib

I love it when an LA institution is so good that someone has to copy it and bring the concept to the Bay Area. This is true of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, whose counterpart, Home of Chicken and Waffles, opened in Oakland a few years ago. (Those other Roscoe’s you may have seen in the Bay Area before this were fakes.)

What many people may not know is that this probably first happened when the entire Lawry’s the Prime Rib concept (menu, spinning salad, rolling silver carts, etc.), was copied and brought to the Bay Area when the beloved San Francisco institution known as the House of Prime Rib opened in 1949. Ultimately, the House of Prime Rib makes me sad for San Francisco. In a city that boasts some of the best restaurants in the world, is this really the pinnacle for prime rib?

I had the large, bone-in King Henry VIII cut and my wife had the standard HoPR cut, both medium rare (the only proper way to eat prime rib). I wish I could say good things about the meat, but it isn’t very good. It was just pale, gray and flavorless, and it didn’t melt in our mouths. It was just chewy…really chewy. I did cut off some of the meat that was still clinging to the bone, and these little slivers were the best pieces of meat of our meal.

The Yorkshire puddings were an utter disappointment. A proper Yorkshire pudding is very puffy and should look like it’s exploding out of the little serving skillets. HoPR’s were just flat…like a pancake. It still tasted good and was great for picking up all the extra jus. The spinning salad was nice but overdressed.

But it wasn’t all bad…

The sourdough bread they bring to the table is great and very San Francisco. The loaded baked potato was probably the best I’ve ever had, and the mashed potatoes were good but forgettable. Creamed spinach was very nice and rich, but my wife makes a better version of it (she doubles the bacon content and saves some for garnish).

The desserts are fantastic. The Chocolate Fantasy Cake is a decadent triple-layer cake of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and cheesecake served with a chocolate and raspberry sauce. The creme brulee had a subtle eggy flavor and its light and smooth consistency was perfect.

HoPR is beloved by both locals and tourists, but the truth is, the meat is not up to par with places like Lawry’s or Morton’s. To be honest, I’ve had better prime rib at Outback.

Did I stutter?

In fact, I can guarantee you that I’ve made prime rib for Christmas dinner that was better than what I had at House of Prime Rib. And I’m talking about the whole meal, with real, puffy Yorkshire puddings, mashed potatoes and gravy, and creamed spinach laden with bits of Niman Ranch bacon. Maybe if you’re good this Christmas, you can come over and revel in this feast.

House of Prime Rib
1906 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109 map
Web site

beef Hawaiian recipes

Brandon’s Teriyaki Meatloaf

This is my friend’s Teriyaki Meatloaf recipe and it’s really good. It’s sweeter than traditional meatloaf, which I just love.

2 lg. onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 eggs
4 slices of bread torn apart (pref. white)
2 lb. ground beef (80/20 preferable)
1/2 cup shoyu (soy sauce for you non-Asians)
1/2 cup sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix ingredients together and put into loaf pan or form into a loaf on a cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 1.5 hours or until internal temperature is at least 150 degrees
beef recipes

The Simple Beauty of Sloppy Joes

Sloppy JoesI had sloppy joes for dinner tonight after picking up a can of Del Monte Sloppy Joe sauce at 99 Ranch Market of all places. I didn’t have any hamburger buns or regular bread lying around, but there was a worthy substitute in the kitchen…pan de sal. Yes, the Filipino sweet rolls, which I usually prefer with peanut butter, were perfect. I had the mini-sized pan de sal so I made a bunch of little sloppy joes. My wife had one, too, but preferred hers over rice, which is also tasty.

While Googling some pictures of sloppy joes, I came upon this interesting recipe from Ming Tsai, and as usual, he gives it a little Asian twist. (picture courtesy of Back of the Box.)

Asian Sloppy Joes
by Ming Tsai
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
2 medium red onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup celery cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 jalapeños, stemmed and minced, or 1 tablespoon sambal oelek or hot sauce
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
8 ounces chopped roma tomatoes, canned or fresh
1 1/2 cups Hoisin-Lime Sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 to 6 hamburger buns
1 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded

1. Heat a large deep, heavy saucepan over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onions, celery, and jalapeños and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the beef and pork and brown lightly, breaking up any clumps with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes and the Hoisin-Lime Sauce and season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer and cook until cooked down and thickened enough to mound when ladled, 30 to 45 minutes.

3. Toast the buns and place a bottom half on each serving plate. Top with some of the lettuce, large scoops of the sloppy joe mixture, and more lettuce. Place the top buns over the contents and serve.

beef Best of Inuyaki recipes

Prime Rib with Jus

Perfect for entertaining a big group, I normally make my Prime Rib around the holidays. It’s a bit of work, but it’s worth it just to see the reaction on your guests faces when it arrives at the table. This is a combination of recipes from Lawry’s the Prime Rib and Cook’s Illustrated.

1 standing bone-in rib roast with ribs removed and reserved, patted dry.
Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1 cup red wine
1 3/4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme


  1. Remove roast and ribs from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 2 hours.
  2. After 2 hours, sprinkle fatty cap and ends of roast with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.
  3. Heat heavy roasting pan or heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium heat until hot, about 4 minutes.
  4. Place roast fat side down in roasting pan/skillet and cook until well-browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Using tongs, stand roast on end and cook until well-browned, about 4 minutes. Repeat with other end. Do not brown side where ribs were attached.
  5. Place roast browned-side up on cutting board and cool 10 minutes.
  6. Place wire roasting rack in roasting pan.
  7. Tie browned roast to ribs and place bone-side down in roasting rack.
  8. Insert meat thermometer in thickest part of meat, making sure it does not touch a bone. Roast in preheated 350 degree F oven until thermometer registers 130 degrees F for rare, 140 degrees F for medium, or approximately 20 to 25 minutes per pound.
  9. Transfer roast to cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees for Yorkshire pudding.
  10. Prepare au jus using the recipe below.

Jus Recipe

  1. While roast rests, spoon off fat from roasting pan, reserving 3 tablespoons for Yorkshire puddings.
  2. Set roasting pan over 2 burners at high heat. Add wine to roasting pan. Using wooden spoon, scrape up browned bits and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add beef broth, chicken broth, and thyme.
  4. Cut twine on roast and remove meat from ribs; re-tent meat. Add ribs, meaty side down, to roasting pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by two-thirds (to about 2 cups), 16 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add any accumulated beef juices from meat and cook to heat through, about 1 minute longer. Discard ribs.
  6. Strain jus through mesh strainer into gravy boat, pressing on onions to extract as much liquid as possible. Serve with prime rib.
barbecue beef recipes ribs

Texas-style BBQ Beef Ribs

UPDATE 7/31/08
As much as I love this recipe, I always found it time consuming. Check out my post on Lazy Barbecue — Oven Beef Ribs for an easier barbecue beef rib recipe.

You can make good, tender, BBQ beef ribs, even if you don’t have a smoker. I use a Tea Smoking Mixture and a liquid smoke/oil mixture to ensure that the meat has that smokey flavor we all want and crave.

I was experimenting with BBQ Beef Ribs this summer with mixed results. My first attempt came out dry but tasty, and the second was a lot better because I used a different recipe but not exactly what I was looking for. (Image from

I decided on “tea smoking” the meat, a Chinese technique that I found interesting since I’m not allowed to grill where I live and have to use the oven. I was a little concerned about the ribs having a “tea” flavor to them since I had never done this before, so I basted the ribs with a mixture of liquid smoke and olive oil before cooking to ensure a smoked hickory flavor. Honestly, I think the tea is merely a source of smoke and doesn’t really affect flavor, but the liquid smoke mixture ensures a more authentic, smokey flavor.

Start by cooking the ribs at 500 degrees for 30 minutes and then reduce the heat to 200 degrees and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours more. What results is tender, almost fall-off-the-bone beef ribs. Finish them using the broiler setting or throwing them on a hot grill so you get a nice crust on the ribs that makes them look as good as they taste. Serve it with the Texas-style BBQ Sauce recipe, or use your favorite sauce (Bullseye is a good choice).

3 – 4 beef rib slabs (3 to 4 ribs per slab, about 5 pounds total)
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Dry Rub Recipe
4 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Tea Smoking Mixture
1 cup loose black tea (Lapsang Souchong preferred)
1 cup rice
1 cup sugar


    1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with at least two layers of aluminum foil
    2. Spread the Tea Smoking Mixture evenly on the bottom of the baking sheet.
    3. Place a wire rack or roasting rack above the Tea Smoking Mixture so that ribs are elevated above baking sheet
    4. Mix chili powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper in small bowl
    5. Remove membrane from the bone side of the ribs.
    6. Rub ribs evenly with spice mixture.
    7. Place ribs on rack and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour
      About 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook, heat oven to 500 degrees (if you have a pizza stone, place this in the oven also).
    8. When you’re ready to cook, baste ribs with liquid smoke/oil mixture and cover ribs with foil so that they are completely sealed. See smoker setup diagram at right.
    9. Place ribs in oven directly on the rack or a pre-heated pizza stone.
      (Image from Cook’s Illustrated).
    10. Cook ribs for 30 minutes at 500 degrees.
    11. Reduce heat to 200 degrees. Leave oven open for a minute to cool it down.
    12. Cook ribs for additional 90 minutes (for firmer ribs) or 2 hours for fall of the bone ribs. The meat will have shrunk, exposing about 1/2 to 1 inch of bone.
    13. Remove ribs from oven and let them rest for 10 minutes before removing foil.
    14. Remove ribs from foil and serve. You can also refrigerate them and then reheat them when ready to serve. If you want to finish the ribs so they have a nice crust, place them under the broiler or cook them meat side down on a hot barbecue grill or grill pan for 5 minutes. Flip and cook 5 more minutes and then serve with your favorite sauce on the side.