The atmosphere is very classy but with a casual feel, you almost feel like you’re at home during the whole process. Parking can be a bear but they offer valet parking, which I suggest you use. Be prepared for a little wait once you get there, so sit at the bar and order something while you pass the time away.
Occupation: Multimedia Designer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Cajun Pacific Restaurant & Catering
Reviewed House of Prime Rib: Tuesday, September 19, 2006
It’s easy to see why the House of Prime Rib is a San Francisco dining landmark. As soon as you enter its historic doors on Van Ness, you feel like you are time traveling back to an era when dining out was a special occasion rather than a regular activity. Since living in San Francisco, I’ve never gotten a chance to eat there mostly because I lean towards seafood or more exotic options when dining out. A restaurant with “Prime Rib” in its name would never spark enough interest for me. The surprise was that I really enjoyed it, and now understand why the House of Prime Rib has been in business since the 1940s.
The decor is done up in dark wood, warm amber light, and roomy upholstered booths. Separate dining rooms allow a more comfortable and quiet setting. After being seated we were presented with a fresh loaf of baked sourdough bread and our menus. I enjoyed opening the menu and seeing roughly five different options, all variations of the same item -- prime rib. Yes, prime rib and lots of it. The only differences being cut and size. Except for the fish option, offered to those not a fan of the house specialty.
We enjoyed a nice Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and soon our dinner salads arrived, or I should say the salad presentation, which was nothing short of impressive, arrived. During the tableside preparation the server quietly remarked “no one leaves here hungry” when she saw my eyes widen at the salad’s size placed in front of me. The salad was crisp, flavorful, and perfectly chilled.
After the salad course, we were introduced to our tableside carver. Our dinners were prepared and soon we were faced with a plate brimming with the House of Prime Rib’s specialty cut of beef, creamed spinach, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Homemade horseradish sauce also accompanied the meal. The aroma alone defined this as comfort food, but soon we dug into the most tender, flavorful prepared prime rib. The side dishes were all wonderful, and very rich. I think my only regret was not choosing the baked potato, which I observed being prepared at a neighboring table. We diligently ate until we hit our limit, which was about halfway through. I was wondering why I noticed many small, red shopping bags at other tables. These were the take-home bags for just about everyone who was definitely not leaving hungry.
We decided that since our dinners were so enjoyable, we had to at least sample dessert. We selected the English Trifle, which was a slice of pound cake soaked in Grand Mariner and topped with fresh berries and cream. I would probably eat anything soaked in Grand Mariner, and this was also absolutely delicious. The “sampling” of dessert turned into something a lot less dainty.
Overall I would definitely recommend the House of Prime Rib. When a restaurant has a specialty and they’ve had more than 60 years to perfect it, it’s hard to go wrong.
Occupation: Wine Operations Manager
Favorite Restaurant: Sonoma-Meritâge Oyster Bar & Grill
Reviewed House of Prime Rib: Sunday, September 10, 2006
Writing a review for the House Of Prime Rib is a tricky assignment. There are few choices to make when ordering your meal, so the potential for bad food is pretty unlikely, and there’s really nothing controversial to ponder.
Plenty of valet attendants await guests at the curb along Van Ness, but we had no trouble finding parking just around the corner. Upon entering the foyer, an impressive display of first-rate red wines greets you, hinting at the promise of a great gastronomic experience.
The restaurant’s decor is old world European, with the trappings of a turn-of-the-century English manor befitting a dining room intended for serious meat and potato aficionados.
The wait staff is formally attired, though the guests were decidedly casual, and a diner at an adjoining table actually nodded off in his booth after consuming a generously proportioned meal (our waiter politely woke him with a gentle nudge).
If you like tender beef, you will love the House Of Prime Rib. They do one thing with very little variation, but they do it well. You may choose the size and doneness of the cut, but otherwise, deciding whether you want a baked or mashed potato, and how spicy you want your horseradish is all the thinking you need to do. Everyone gets the same sides: First came a demi-loaf of tasty sourdough bread, with a huge pat of butter. Next came a simple chophouse salad with julienned beets, drenched in an apple cider vinegar dressing that’s delicious but overwhelming. At last came our entrees: a thick, juicy cut of prime rib with our choice of potato, creamed spinach (salty), and a generous chunk of buttery Yorkshire Pudding (far too rich for my palate). I could feel my cholesterol count burst upwards a hundred points as the platter was placed before me!
Despite being stuffed from all the intensely rich food, we decided to share a dessert. Tiramisu is one of my favorites, and I was a bit disappointed with this version. Perhaps we just selected poorly, as one would assume that a restaurant with so few choices would make certain what selections they do have are the very freshest, and perfectly prepared. We washed it all down with a bottle of A. Rafanelli’s 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine list was chock full of superb selections at fair prices just as the foyer display promised, though too few offerings are available by the glass.
This is clearly a special event restaurant -- a place to go on the rare occasion when you feel like spending big, eating big, and ignoring your diet. The waitstaff is practiced in artful presentations, and the old world charm makes your visit an occasion even if you have nothing special to celebrate, but I couldn’t appreciate the extremely rich food.