Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I have always been a big fan of House of Prime Rib in SF. When I was in college and visiting, Ms. Lin took me out for a night of fine dining as part of my Bday gift. As many of you know, I am a carnivore so this place was perfect. They really only have one choice here and that would be their prime rib. Everything else on the menu is just pointless. If you are going to a place called House of "Prime Rib", you really should be eating what they are named for. O=) In the first few months I was introduced to this place, I went back 3 times in a month because I was so enamored with the food and service. I will always have a special place for my first server there, Franz. My recent visit we had a wonderful server as well. She was funny and sweet, which made the meal all that more enjoyable. If it weren't for her, I would probably be more negative in this review. Be forewarned that even if you make a reservation, you will most likely have to wait around a bit for a table. HOPR is always packed to the brim with hungry people. I have yet to see this place not busy.
Once the door opens, you are taken into another world. The decor is very classic and timeless. It is like you have stepped back in time where service and food isn't just another day at work but a tradition. They have separated rooms each with a different decor. This time I was seated close to the entrance where we were seated in classic booths facing a curved painted wall with more booth seating. Within a short time they bring out a piping hot loaf of bread with a huge knife stuck into the center and a huge chunk of butter at your disposal. The bread was simple and delicious. Chewy on the outside but soft in the center.
Part of tradition is their Spinning Salad Bowl, it's dinner and a show. First, they present you with cold salad forks. They have seasonal greens mixed with beets inside a salad bowl that's spun and drizzled high above with their secret sauce. It is usually a Sherry based sauce that is used and enhanced by their own Seasoning Salt. I added fresh ground peppers on top for that extra kick. Even though I am a carnivore, I actually really love their salad. I still remember the first time I had it. *crunch* The crisp leaves of the salad breaking and the wonderful softness of the beet to add a new level of texture. I never thought I would be a fan of beets but the preparation and flavor turned me into a fan. Hard to believe, but I actually look forward to the salads that always precede my prime rib. Beware though, the salad is actually quite filling and I was getting full after I finished it... must... save room... for the prime rib!
The food actually comes out pretty quick as most of it is always prepared. While we were eating our salad, the Chef brought his cart over. Everything is carved at table side and you can see the master in action. All the meat looked so wonderful and succulent that I almost wanted to jump in and devour the meat like a lion in the safari would do. As we speak, I am starting to get really hungry and an overwhelming desire to consume bloody red meat is setting in! Are my fangs showing?
Both Ms. Lin and I ordered the King Henry VIII's Cut, the biggest cut. She kept her cut the way it is normally done, one thick juicy slice. As for me, I wanted it done like the English Cut where they are 3 thin slices versus one big one. They each have their own unique texture. I do like the juicy cut where you can feel and taste the heartiness of the beef. Whereas my thin cuts have a gentler texture and absorbs the au jus better to help give it more flavor. It is all just personal preference, but if you are a party of 2 then maybe you can try the 2 different cuts to compare. O=)
For my sides I chose the Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach. Ms. Lin chose the Baked Potato and Creamed Spinach. She changed her mind to baked potato after seeing all the bacon they added into another table's baked potato. How can you go wrong with butter, chives, sour cream, and bacon! It is allllll about the bacon! I actually liked it better with the soft savory flavor of the mashed potato that compliments the prime rib's natural flavor.
To go with the prime rib, they bring out a tower of Horseradish to accompany the meat. My favorite has always and will always be the raw horseradish. I try not to put too much on each bite because it can be overpowering and I would not want to lose the flavor of the meat. Most people around the room cannot finish what they ordered. The whole room is filled with tiny red bags for leftovers. If you are good enough to get to the bottom of your dish, you will have the opportunity to have another thin slice... free of charge! This is one thing I really love about House of Prime Rib, "We are always happy to supply an Additional, thin but Satisfying, Slice." Trekkie had been telling me how disappointed he was with the tiny slice, but I really didn't think the size was that bad... considering it is free. It is not a full size slice, not like a buy one get one free deal. As Trekkie said, it was just the right size because after finishing off the biggest slice there wasn't much room for another huge cut. I almost didn't want to get that extra slice because I was satiated, but for the sake of my blog and a photo... I packed it in! ^_-
All in all they know their way around a cow. Might I say they have great knives for consumers to use to cut into the meat and bone. There is a reason that even though my reservation was at 9:30 PM and I was 10 mins late... and still had to wait a bit for a table. It was sad, yet really funny, because there were these Asian guys sitting there and one of their companion was totally passed out in the chair. Just goes to show you how long the wait can be. I would DEFINITELY recommend reservations. They are packed and super popular. HOPR is a tradition that is worth experiencing. If you live in the Bay Area, it is like a rite of passage to come here and enjoy a wonderful cut of prime rib.
House of Prime Rib