A great steak is a culinary art form, and while many restaurants strive for such excellence, few actually achieve it. For decades, the Prime Rib has been pleasing diners with the highest quality meats and seafood in Baltimore and Washington D.C.; in 1997, it took up shop in Philadelphia. Elegant, classic and undeniably upscale, the Prime Rib has established itself as a beloved favorite among the discerning Rittenhouse crowd, proving that nothing beats a perfectly cooked steak and a well-made cocktail.Read More ...
Once I stepped into The Prime Rib, I felt as if I was traveling back in time. Many restaurants attempt to evoke this type of emotion from its patrons, but for once, the feeling was undeniable.
The décor seemed inspired by the elegant supper clubs of Manhattan during the 1940s. The crisp, white tablecloths popped on top of the leopard-print carpeting, and the glass-topped piano was reminiscent of an Old Hollywood film. For a touch of sophistication, live jazz music is played on the piano, as well as the accompanying bass, nightly at the restaurant. Black and gold lacquered panels running throughout the rooms added depth to the pristine elegance, and the enforced dress code of jackets for men provided an air of luxury to the mix. It all felt so lush and classic, I almost expected to see Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman dining at the next table.
Brothers Buzz and Nick BeLer opened the first The Prime Rib location in Baltimore in 1965, and after great success, opened another in Washington D.C. in 1976. Catering to the powerful and elite, The Prime Rib soon established itself as a well-respected member of the steakhouse community, making way for it to expand its reach to the City of Brotherly Love. Located in Philadelphia’s posh Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, The Prime Rib is held in the highest regard by the city’s most discriminating diners.
The fact that The Prime Rib is located inside the Warwick Hotel only helps boost its high-class clientele. Walking through the restaurant, I saw the bar was full of chatty businessmen in well-tailored suits, mostly all of whom had a scotch or martini in hand. The busy waitstaff shuffled throughout the grand rooms in tuxedos, eager to help anyone and everyone who needed their assistance. From the moment I sat down, I knew the service at The Prime Rib was going to rival any that I had experienced before, and it most certainly did not disappoint. Our waiter was composed, friendly, and very knowledgeable of all things pertaining to food and wine. Already feeling pampered, I was eager to explore the menu.
Executive Chef Victor Ossario has created a traditional steakhouse menu comprised of the finest meats and seafood. No frills can be found at The Prime Rib – the high quality ingredients speak for themselves. The long list of beef, veal, pork and lamb entrees had my mouth watering, and the fresh fish options were equally tantalizing. Best of all, the sides of grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes offered up a worthy counterpart to any of the main dishes. One glance at the menu and I knew Ossario was a true steak lover, which is key to actually cooking a great steak.
I love to start every steak dinner with a classic appetizer – Shrimp Cocktail. Served elegantly in a metal chalice, the light pink shrimp were plump and fresh, and each one was a mouthful. The deep red cocktail sauce was tangy, spicy, and best of all, homemade.
The Clams Casino was flavor on top of flavor, with salty bacon and tender clams marrying perfectly with deep green spinach. Fanned out wistfully on the bright white plate, crispy bits of bacon and soft spinach were scattered intermittently inside the generously sized shells. Each of the distinct ingredients was distributed evenly to ensure each bite was as tasty as the next.
The freshness of the Vidalia Onion and Vine-Ripened Tomatoes Salad was only rivaled by its presentation. Accented beautifully with drizzles of a sweet and sour Vidalia onion vinaigrette, the large layers of tomatoes swirled circularly around the plate, each barely overlapping with the next. The delicate slivers of onion rested on top of the tomato medallions, offering a spicy punch without overpowering the sweetness of the tomatoes.
While the appetizers were easy to choose, I had a harder time deciding on my entrées. I eventually settled on the best cut of meat in the house – the Roast Prime Rib. Selected from the finest grain-fed steers, the succulent beef had been aged four to five weeks, and then slowly roasted in the restaurant's special ovens. The meat cut like butter to reveal a perfectly blood red center, and the rich juices flowed throughout my plate. Honestly, the meat was so tender I could have sent my knife back to the kitchen. The crust of the steak was seared to perfection, packed with salt and peppery goodness. The earthy spices of rosemary and thyme were subtle and did not overpower the natural flavor of the steak.
Being able to choose my own sides, I opted for the traditional favorites – Creamed Spinach and Sautéed Mushrooms. All of the menu’s sides are served family style, adding a rustic balance to the otherwise elegant atmosphere. The Creamed Spinach was silky and rich, and the twirls of white and deep green were a visually appealing contrast to the steak. The whole mushrooms were earthy and moist after being sautéed in olive oil and garlic, which complemented the steak’s depth exquisitely.
For those interested in a non-beef entrée, the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes are a terrific option. The award-winning recipe is comprised entirely of jumbo lump crabmeat – no pointless fillers – and is gently tossed in regional seasonings of Old Bay – along with a few other spices I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Like everything on the menu, this dish demonstrated Ossario’s desire to let the diner taste the freshness of the main ingredient – whether it is steak or fish – instead of a myriad of spices.
To go along with my crab cakes, I ordered sides of Broccoli Rabe and Buttered Carrots. The deep green broccoli rabe florets were tender without a hint of bitterness. Enhanced by warm olive oil and spicy garlic, the dish was strong accompaniment to the entrée. The bright orange carrots were still firm and their buttery coating, which glistened under the restaurant’s soft lighting, brought out the vegetable’s natural sweetness.
For dessert, I played it safe and ordered the classic cheesecake. The texture was velvety and light, and the rich flavor and decadent creaminess was an ideal ending to an overindulgent meal. For those in search of a lighter dessert option, fresh raspberries and strawberries are available for nibbling. Highlighted by a touch of sweet cream, the bright red berries were tart and juicy. All in all, a succulent end to a memorable meal.
While The Prime Rib’s menu will give anyone’s credit cards some exercise, the restaurant’s wine list offers more flexibility when it comes to pricing. A large selection of hearty reds and crisp whites are available by the bottle or glass, some domestic and some international, but all of the highest quality. The collection features a variety of wines from South America, California, Europe and Australia, as well as Champagne and Port. While many bottles could set someone back $200, The Prime Rib’s “20 Wines Under $40” allows diners the opportunity indulge without breaking the bank.
Between the elegantly classic atmosphere, impeccable service, and top-notch food, The Prime Rib gives all other steakhouses a run for their money. Ossario’s menu speaks to the hearts of true carnivores, and the ambience just can’t be beat. The Prime Rib is definitely a must-visit Philadelphia treasure, but be careful – you’ll never look at steak the same way again.
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