Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Prime Rib: Philadelphia Review

Restaurant Week is a major part of any big city and is something that I've enjoyed in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Still, I understand the undercurrents of disdain from major chefs, service staff, and foodies - namely due to the problems with shoddy service, which is inevitable from the glut of customers who are all getting at least 3 courses of food ($35 for dinner and $20 for lunch).

However, depending on where you go, you can get a pretty good deal and try a myriad of tastes. In general though, I tend to avoid the more foodie-centric establishments as I would prefer to enjoy a true a la carte or tasting menu experience there anyways.

In any case, to kick of Philly's first Restaurant Week of 2013, I felt like indulging my primal urges and quite simply ... felt like digging into a prime rib. Reminiscing of the succulent prime ribs at Lawry's in Chicago, when I saw that The Prime Rib on the list for Restaurant Week, I couldn't help but head over for their eponymous dish.

Entering into the Philly outpost of The Prime Rib, the atmosphere felt slightly stuffy, as if I was coming in for a power lunch/dinner. Happy Hour was in full effect (I hear it's great actually according to Yelp), and all the patrons were easily twice my age. The latter is understandable due to the high price point for the majority of the dishes at The Prime Rib. Still, we're talking about a prime rib joint and not reinventing cuisine. And that's ok! Sometimes all we need is a nice slab of meat, great service, and a pianist riffing on a clear-top grand piano. Nothing else.

Bread Service

The bread was served warm, which I appreciated, along with the spreadable room-temp butter. Decent variety, but pretty standard.

Roasted Tomato Soup

The tomato soup came out hot with a sweet, tangy undertone from the roasted tomatoes. Delicious and a nice way to whet my carnivorous appetite.

House Salad

The GF opted for the house salad, which was a bit over-dressed with ranch. However, there was a nice mix of chopped egg whites, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and mixed greens. The pepperoncini offered some bite to the dish.

Famous Potato Skins ($10 supplemental)

I can't resist anything advertised as 'famous.' So I obviously went for the potato skins, which did not disappoint. They were unadorned with anything fancy like bacon bits or cheese, but that's ok when we're talking about something that is so simple that's done so right.

The innards were scooped out, resulting in skins that were crispy on both sides. Perfect vessels for the accompanying horseradish and sour cream, which worked well to bring some fresh flavors to the dish.

Grilled Atlantic Salmon

The salmon had nice seasoning and a decent crust from the grill. However, the GF wasn't the biggest fan since it didn;t taste particularly fresh and was frankly, a bit dry.

Roast Prime Rib of Beef

This 12 ounce slab of beef was well-roasted and seasoned. However, as you can see, there were portions of the beef that were whole unappetizing chunks of fat. The accompanying grated horseradish was frankly chewy and didn't taste that fresh.

The outer crust that I typically enjoy on prime rib was also quite dry and inedible in some parts. Still, the parts of the beef that were edible were enjoyable and exactly what I was looking for in a good prime rib. I'll chalk the rest up to Restaurant Week demands. 

Creamed Spinach

The Restaurant Week menu advertised roasted vegetables, which was actually a duo of dishes that are typical of any steak or prime rib joint. The first was the creamed spinach, which unfortunately was a weak iteration of this standard dish. This was a soupy mess - indicative of what may have been frozen spinach. Butter shone through rather than the essence of spinach.

Mashed Potatoes

The mashed potatoes were sufficiently smooth but were fairly standard. It would have been nice to seen these spruced up.

Key Lime Pie

The key lime pie was perfectly smooth and tangy with a nicely light, thin graham cracker crust. A nice way to cleanse the palate, especially after a heavy meal.

Creme Brulee

The creme brulee had a perfect sugar crust and the custard was creamy and redolent with vanilla essence.

If you're in the mood for prime rib and have deep pockets, I would suggest giving The Prime Rib a try. Overall though, I can't see myself coming back anytime soon as this dining experience was rather lackluster - certainly not on par with Lawry's. Regardless of whether it was Restaurant Week or not, we came for an early dinner and the restaurant was not close to being packed by the time we paid the bill.  However, I may just have to stop by for a drink and some of their potato skins.

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