House of Prime Rib
1906 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109
Dining date: 9/11/21
I’m not sure when I visited House of Prime Rib last, but it’s probably been close to two decades (!). Opened in 1950, the restaurant was already an old standby when I grew up, but has certainly solidified its status as an SF institution at this point.
I’d largely been getting my fill of prime rib from Lawry’s in Beverly Hills. The restaurants are very similar in their old English aesthetic; in fact, for a long time, I thought Lawry’s was a copycat of this place (I subsequently learned that Lawry’s predates this place by over 10 years).
A steaming loaf of bread was plopped down on the table shortly after we sat down.
Salads are also dressed tableside with in a spinning bowl.
Once salads were done with, fresh horseradish and cream of horseradish were brought to the table as well as a roving cart of beef. Prime rib, aged 21 days and carved tableside, is clearly the featured attraction here.
I ordered the largest cut on the menu, the “King Henry VIII Cut” described as an “extra-generous, thick cut of prime beef, for king size appetites.” Mashed potatoes, creamed corn, and creamed spinach were side dish options, along with the traditional Yorkshire pudding and au jus.
A tradition unique to House of Prime Rib, which I love, is “seconds.” After completion of the first serving, it’s a chance to get a fresh, thin slice of prime rib and accompanying sides.
I don’t know if it was an off night, but it didn’t live up to the standards I’d grown accustomed to at Lawry’s. The prime rib was on the tougher side (not just mine, but multiple within our party), although there was a great beefy flavor particularly when slathered with the jus. Side dishes were strong with my favorite being the mashed potatoes and gravy.
The King Henry cut was also on the small-ish side (for the largest cut at this type of establishment), but at least “seconds” partially made up for it. I’ll probably be back at some point given the sheer popularity of this place, but I’m not in a hurry.