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