Iconic Meal On Wheels: House of Prime Rib
Let me preface this by explaining that I was raised next to cattle; steak and potatoes are comfort food. Comfort food is simple, straightforward, steeped in tradition, hearty with the portions, and plain old good for the soul. SF's landmark English Style restaurant, House of Prime Rib, is just that; good for the soul ... and the belly.
Since 1949, House of Prime Rib has been plating thick slabs of prime rib and pouring “till-thy-chalice-runneth-over” martinis to meat lovers from far and wide. Suffice to say, I was excited to finally visit this Holy Grail myself. And I was not alone. On Saturday, my date and I arrived at 4:15 p.m. for our reservation (the restaurant opens at 4 p.m. on weekends) and the room was already filled with laughter, birthday songs, and the clink of silverware against plate. You do not need a reservation to dine here, but I highly suggest it. If this place is packed upon opening, I can only imagine the experience awaiting diners as the evening progresses. And, in keeping with SF tradition, wear layers; it may be cold outside, but inside, it's warm and cozy.
The menu here is simple: Choose between four tender cuts of beef, or get the fish. (Seriously, does anyone go to HOPR for the fish?) And then there are the sides. The bevy of bread (cornbread), bread (sourdough), and more bread (Yorkshire pudding) is all complimentary. Your “serious” side decisions are between mashed potatoes and gravy or a fully-loaded baked potato, and creamed spinach with bacon bits or creamed corn. You also receive a salad prior to the main that has a “unique” presentation. All the while, you are sneaking glances over your martini at this mammoth metal meat cart on wheels (that everyone has been telling you about) as the chef, illuminated by cart-light, carves plate after mouthwatering plate of meat.
Another great thing about House of Prime Rib is that it's affordable. I've eaten at Bob's, 5A5, and Bourbon Steak to name a few. If you think HOPR is expensive, dine somewhere besides Outback and we'll talk. Between the two of us, my date and I spent $100 on two 3-in-1 martinis and two full meals that included salad, thick and juicy House of Prime Rib Cut, hefty sides, ridiculous amounts of bread, and a delicious warm apple crisp for dessert. We left with three HOPR doggie bags.
If I were to make one request for HOPR, it would be to add a grass-fed option to the menu. Thank you, House of Prime Rib, for making my belly a happy – and full – camper!
All photos by Paul Ubongen