Growing up, people always snickered when I told them I was going to the "House of Prime Rib." Sure, the name is a little kitsch, and it belies the old fashioned grandeur of the restaurant itself, but it is also apt. Steakhouses may serve any number of items besides steak, but the House of Prime Rib does one thing and one thing only - prime rib. (There is actually the option to order fish, if you must, but I wouldn't recommend it. Live a little - eat prime rib at the HOPR or don't go at all.)
For the bucket list, there were many occasions and people I could select to join me on such an adventure, but I was pretty sure who I wanted to invite - my food-loving, meat-eating, one-of-whom-is-incredibly-tall-and-can-eat-more-than-anyone-I-know friends, Jessica and Wally, who had surprisingly never been before. The occasion? House of Prime Rib was the occasion. The prodigal daughter returning after a 4-5 year hiatus was a good enough reason to celebrate.
The first course is their signature salad, which is already an epic start to the meal. They make the salad right in front of you, spinning the bowl while drizzling the dressing from high above your head. I have never had a salad like this anywhere else, it is unique and delicious. My mom loves their salad dressing so much that she sometimes asks me to pick some up for her for family meals since I live here in the city.
For those who are not big red meat fans, or are disturbed by the sight of large quantities of meat, this place may not be for you. But if you love meat, you will relish the enormous silver cart of beef that is rolled from table to table, where the main attraction is sliced tableside, onto warmed plates, specifically for you according to your choice of cut and doneness. (My recommendation: medium rare; with quality beef like this, always medium rare). It is a sight to behold.
But I haven't yet told you about one of the best parts about the House of Prime Rib, the part that will keep even the tallest, hungriest person I know satisfied: seconds. That's right, they will give you seconds on anything you want (though sadly not thirds, we asked). I have long heard that this is the case, but I have always been so full that it has not been possible to eat any more, and this occasion was no exception for me - I stopped (reluctantly) when I reached the end of my plate. But I knew at least one member of my dining party would be able to order more prime rib, and Wally did not disappoint. The second cut of beef wasn't as big as the first, but it wasn't insignificant, either. No matter your size or appetite, they clearly do not want you leaving hungry.
There's a few important details I have forgotten to mention so far. First of all, this restaurant is legitimately fine dining. You book reservations weeks and often months in advance - it is incredibly popular, even 65 years after its opening (it was established in 1949). The interior is classically grand, the service is impeccable, and you feel compelled to dress up to come here. But the surprising part, especially in a city filled with fancy restaurants, is the price. All that I have described so far - the salad, the prime rib (including seconds), the spinach, the mashed potatoes and gravy, all fit for a king, is only around $40, depending on the cut you order. $40 isn't exactly chump change, but I dare you to find another meal of this size and quality anywhere else in the city for that price. Oh, and if you do find such a place? Please be sure to share that information with your old pal Brooke.