Saturday, January 9, 2010

FOOD CZAR REVIEW #60: LAWRYS THE PRIME RIB

Lawrence L Frank and Walter Van de Camp opened the original Lawry's The Prime Rib on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills in 1938. You might know Franks legacy better as the creator of Lawry's Seasoned Salt (and Pepper), cococted specially for the restaurant and an adornment of virtually every pantry in America since. Frank also designed the famous silver carts, which are brought tableside so the chef can personally cut the rib roast to suit the diner's exacting taste. Lawry's now sports ten locations worldwide, four in the States and six overseas. The Dallas location is actually now in Addison, having moved from Turtle Creek in the late nineties. My lovely wife the Rock Star has always loved prime rib since her Steak and Ale days (as a diner, not an employee). I've always had a penchant for prime myself, so it was one recent night that we decided to investigate Lawry's for ourselves.



The atmosphere at Lawry's is decidedly old-school, so much so that you will likely see as much silver atop the diner's heads as you will see it on the famous carts. Nonetheless, the dining room features white tablecloths, tall-back wooden chairs, and is guarded by lions, a combination that still connotes elegance. In fact, the decor is described as English Edwardian, but since Edward was not present to confirm this rumor, we must instead take it on faith.



Old school was in session with the menu as well, so we decided to make the most of it. My bride had seen the special program on the Travel Channel featuring Lawry's as one of Chicago's famed meat palaces, so she wanted to start with the famous spinning bowl salad. The presentation was indeed impressive, as our waitress spun the bowl, then raised the dressing bottle above her head to coat the greens from on high. Featuring crisp romaine, baby spinach, beets, chopped egg, croutons and iceberg, and topped with the dressing that reminded me of Green Goddess spiked with sherry, the salad was quite good if not as spectacular as the presentation. I fared much better with my shrimp cocktail: Five jumbo tiger prawns with a horseradish cocktail sauce that packed plenty of punch, reminding me of the days when a great steakhouse was the ultimate dining experience. The shrimp, salad, and all our dishes paired quite nicely with Greg Norman Shiraz, which added cabernet boldness and a touch of spice. In due course, the silver carts arrived. My wife and I have smaller appetites these days, however I wanted to try a bone-in cut, which is usually designated for the larger portions such as the Diamond Jim Brady. Luckily, our waitress assured us that they do have some smaller bone-in cuts, and that if one was available, we could certainly have it. My wife selected the California Cut, which was specified for lighter appetites. I assume they mean a portion designed more for a quarterback than a defensive lineman, because her slab was still quite large. I selected the traditional Lawry's Cut, and received a generous-sized portion with a bone. One bite told us instantly why Lawry's has managed to survive and thrive for over seventy years, because this was without question the most beefy tasting slab of prime I've ever tasted. The whipped cream horseradish added just the right touch of creamy burn to the meat, and the mashed potatoes were very good as well. Lawry's also serves Yorkshire pudding with every prime rib entree, which is not a dessert but rather a scorched batter meant to be served with drippings or gravy. The generous portions reminded me that Lawry's still hosts the Beef Bowl dinner to honor the two combatants in the Cotton Bowl every year, and in fact the Dallas cut is their largest cut, "as served to the Cotton Bowl teams." Ours was quite sufficient, thank you. After such a meal, how could we find room for dessert? However, we could not pass up a hot fudge sundae, made with Blue Bell ice cream and CC Brown's Hot Fudge Sauce, also sold by the restaurant if you wish to take home. After such a meal, we had no choice but to box up what was ours and leave.

Service was very accomodating and professional, as evidenced by Lawry's wish to honor my rib bone request. Website is http://www.lawrysonline.com/, if you wish to make reservations or order products.

In sum, we felt we graduated magna cum laude from Lawry's The Prime Rib, and we now understand its considerable reputation. Attend your own culinary old-school yourself, and remember:

LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!

2 comments:

Margie said...

That spinning salad thing freaks me out. Why spinning?

Food Czar said...

Margie, apparently the spinning motion helps coat the greens better. Also, it's all part of the show that the founders devised to ensure that people would come back. Luckily, the food is quite tasty, too.