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The Prime Rib, Formal, Unashamedly Old-School Fine Dining Prime Rib House on K Street


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I had a stellar dinner at the Rib tonight. It is comforting to go to a place that has knowledgeable staff. From the bar to the dining room, nothing could be faulted. The place looks great, the ambience perfect. This is a grown-up restaurant. That means coat and tie. I had a perfect lobster bisque. The crab imperial is all lump crab. The prime rib I had was indeed the best rib I've ever eaten. Tender, flavorful, ample. Why no buzz about this place? I don't eat there often enough.

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I'd guess the lack of buzz is attributable to the fact they've been quietly doing what you described since 1976. Also, perhaps, related to the divergent demographic profiles of this site and their clientele in general. The wife and I went once, a few years ago. Everything was great, but our general sentiment on walking out the door was: "See you in 20 years, when we'll fit in."

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I have never felt like I did not fit in at the Prime Rib (I am in my mid 30's). Like Mark, I believe that the Prime Rib is as good as it gets. I also put in a vote for their crab cake being the best around. The only problem I have is with the 70's era wine service. It makes me wonder if the small stems they use are antiques that they are proud to display.

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I've never been to the DC outpost, but I do love having drinks at the bar of the original Prime Rib in Baltimore. Lots of black, leopard print carpeting and a piano player. Older men out with younger women, everyone dressed up. A good place to eavesdrop. A large glass container of pineapple infused vodka sits on the end of the bar. A glass of it will provide you with plenty of buzz.

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I have never felt like I did not fit in at the Prime Rib (I am in my mid 30's).  Like Mark, I believe that the Prime Rib is as good as it gets.  I also put in a vote for their crab cake being the best around.  The only problem I have is with the 70's era wine service.  It makes me wonder if the small stems they use are antiques that they are proud to display.

What he said.

Also, something you almost never see is that they will serve a medium end cut if you ask nicely. Almost worth eating (but not for me, tho I will pick at the crusty edges if my dining companion is very tolerant) Do any of the other steak places serve end cuts that aren't well done?

Their potato skins are truly crunchy, salty addictive. ::lip-smaking smilie::

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What he said.

Also, something you almost never see is that they will serve a medium end cut if you ask nicely.  Almost worth eating (but not for me, tho I will pick at the crusty edges if my dining companion is very tolerant) Do any of the other steak places serve end cuts that aren't well done? 

Their potato skins are truly crunchy, salty addictive. ::lip-smaking smilie::

How many of the other "steak" places serve prime rib. I really can't think of any.

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How many of the other "steak" places serve prime rib.  I really can't think of any.

hmmm...good question....Mortons and The Palm do, Blackie's, Smith & Wollensky, Flemings (Sunday dinner), and Lewnes in Eastport, but I guess it could be more general - any restaurant?

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On the weekends Colvin Run sells a really good Prime Rib. Not on par with the Prime Rib, but better than most other places. The prime rib at Morton's is the best thing on the menu (they offer it all week) and another good place for it is Schulla's.

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My wife decided to choose the Prime Rib to begrudgingly acknowledge another birthday. She loves big red slabs of meat and the pomp and circumstance of the restaurant.

We arrived, and they shuttled us to the middle side of the room. The seating was fine, except for the view of the young woman next to us who appeared to have learned table manners from Attila the Hun, but I cannot blame the restaurant for such things. The room is Playboy Club 1968 (I have seen pictures). Black and gold everywhere, but the bunnies are replaced with men in tuxedos. We both ordered the same thing. The crab cakes for an appetizer and the prime rib for the entrée.

I have yet to have a better crab cake than what the Prime Rib puts out. They are half the size of what you would get at G&M, but have four times the flavor packed into the smaller cake. The crab is pure lump, with a fresh crab flavor. It almost seems as if they hold the entire thing together with the restaurant’s tartar sauce. The only issue I have with these cakes is that when I am done with them, I am salivating for another.

The prime rib was cooked to exacting order. My wife got an end cut that was medium (she likes the extra crust), and mine was rare. And when it landed at the table, I wanted to let out a Fred Flintstone like “Yabba Dabba Do” these things were so large. They serve and entire bone, cut not on the bone, but midway between them, so everyone gets a piece of meat that should serve two large men, or a medium sized village in Sierra Lorne. The meat is so tender that you can cut it with your fork. They do not over season the crust at the prime rib, instead allowing the meat to show in its purest form. The jus provided just enough seasoning to not require a dash of salt for the monstrous slabs of meat. We had a side of mashed potatoes. They were creamy, yet pleasantly chunky at the same time.

We followed up dinner with a slice of cheese cake topped with strawberry coolie and with fresh strawberries on the side. The cake was nicely cooked, creamy, with not a sign of grittiness. The strawberries were fresh and sweet. Nice way to end the meal.

The Prime Rib is not a restaurant that I would recommend for those seeking an inexpensive meal. But I believe for the quality and quantity of the food, it is a value.

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I have always felt welcome at the Prime Rib. They seem to treat all of their customers as someone special. The wait staff is among the most professional in town.

And how much better does it get than having live music with dinner!

-Ed

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I dined at The Prime Rib this evening, and noted these wines on the "Thirty Under Forty" section of their winelist - thirty wines, each under forty dollars.

Could someone please recommend some of these to me?

* Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

* Marquis Phillips Shiraz

* Hahn Merlot

* Kendall-Jackson "Vintners" Chardonnay

* Benziger Chardonnay

* Fess-Parker "White Reisling [sic]"

* Buehler White Zinfandel

A timely response would be appreciated, as I'd like to get back there in the next day-or-so and order them (along with another prime rib, plain baked potato and order of asparagus ($52 for the three)) before the rest of the world catches on to this place.

Thank you in advance,

Rocks.

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Marquis Philips is an $18 shiraz that for some is akin to cough syrup.  For others such as myself that frequently have a cough it is a delicious way to alleviate this.

Adding to what Joe said (and I think he would agree with me) the Marquis Philips is by far the best of the wines on this list.

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I'd like to get back there in the next day-or-so and order them (along with another prime rib, plain baked potato and order of asparagus ($52 for the three)) before the rest of the world catches on to this place.

Yes, It is a good place, isn't it, Rocks? Nobody does a rib like that consistently in DC. Me love rib.

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The only problem I have with the Prime rib is the wine service. Even if you order a nice bottle of wine the glasses provided are way too small. They allow corkage, but if I remember correctly, it is $25 a bottle. No matter what, you still get the crappy glasses.

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My wife and I dined there about three weeks ago. I've never been to the Rib in DC, but have been to both outposts in Philly and Baltimore in the past. I love the ambience and the serenity of the Rib, not to mention the cast of characters at the bar.

The food has always been top-notch, although my wife sent back her reck of lamb the moment it was delivered. Maybe we missed something on the menu, but the eye of each chop was no bigger than a nickel. They replaced it without a second thought, and we had a fabulous time.

I get the feeling the Rib wopn't be around much longer. I'm in my early 30's and was the youngest person in the house by a good 20 years. Buzzy, the Owner, has got to be in his late 70's, and there might be a reason you don't find restaurants like it around anymore.

Kind of sad, because it is by far the best steakhouse experience in DC, Ray's excluded.

PS- I second the Marquis Phillips Shiraz. Had both it and the Hahn Merlot. Neither will make you want to start a wine blog, but the Phillips was very palatable.

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the cast of characters at the bar.

Dear National Geographic,

As a result of the first part of our field study yesterday evening, I wish to convey an archeological finding of some interest: it appears that female dinosaurs from the middle triassic period had blond hair. I'll continue with the second half of the assignment next week, and will let you know what I find at the Yacht Club.

Regards,

Tara Dactyl.

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When I was there in the Spring, at the end of the meal my dining companion, Scott, asked the waiter for a doggy bag, saying, "I really do have dogs." The waiter nodded, and came back with a bag filled with eight juicy, fleshy bones. Scott's dogs had a helluva meal! And that gesture convinced us, though we hardly needed to be convinced, that Prime Rib likes to please its customers.

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The only problem I have with the Prime rib is the wine service.  Even if you order a nice bottle of wine the glasses provided are way too small.  They allow corkage, but if I remember correctly, it is $25 a bottle.  No matter what, you still get the crappy glasses.

Hey, I've brought glasses to restaurants before.

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When I was there in the Spring, at the end of the meal my dining companion,  Scott, asked the waiter for a doggy bag,  saying, "I really do have dogs." The waiter nodded, and came back with a bag filled with eight juicy, fleshy bones.  Scott's dogs had a helluva meal! And that gesture convinced us, though we hardly needed to be convinced, that Prime Rib likes to please its customers.

They also provide reading glasses, and pillows for the deep comfy leather chairs, for those dinosaurs from the early Triassic period with weak eyes and bad backs.
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Adding to what Joe said (and I think he would agree with me) the Marquis Philips is by far the best of the wines on this list.

I'm a real fan of Marquis Philips, Morambro Creek ('02) and Jim Barry's Lodge Hill which are all around the same price. Shitch is the real authority on Australian, they are a real love of his.

I have long felt that the Prime Rib had very fairly priced wine.

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I've heard good things about their hambugers. Since I'm going for lunch (which is the only time they offer the hamburger) should I get that or should I go for the prime rib.

Decisions, decisions........

Crab Imperial for the appetizer, definitely prime rib for main course.

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It is not often that I bust out a ballgown. In fact, me skating gloves get more game than me ballgown, and believe me, they don't get a whole lot of game. But on the rare occasions when sparkles and sequins come out, the setting needs to fit the bill.

As long as I don't have to foot it.

And that's why a few Saturdays ago the four of us were ushered into Prime Rib's dining room.

"Do you find the idea of time travel appealing?" my friend said to me. "You will love this if you do."

Hmmm, all right. As long as destination is not pre-indoor plumbing, I suppose.

To put it in objective, dispassionate terms for which I am generally known, Prime Rib took me back fifty years ago, easily. Did I enjoy it? It was an experience. But did I enjoy it?

I know I wanted to. There are people who I like and trust who enjoy it. If it's good enough for Mr. Eccelenza Slater, it is most certainly good enough for me.

The dining room looks like a slightly PG-fied Hugh Hefner testosterone fantasy completely untouched by time. Black tufted leather wingback chairs that must feel like a girdle to anyone over size eight, not that I would know what that's like. Walls done up in bordello-esque black and gold, studded with flimsy chandoliers and pictures of horny swans drooling on helpless rubenesque nudes. An absolutely astonishing number of combovers and three-piece pinstripe suits. Enough hair helmets fit to fly in Soyuz Apollo mission, or to keep Acquanet in business for the rest of my life.

And yes, darlings, there are still women in this land of abundance and Gucci outlet malls who wake up one morning and decide to wear a white blouse with a gold lame bow tie. They exist. Their natural habitat is in Prime Rib on Saturday nights. As my friend said, "I keep expecting an old lady with a fruit-mounted hat and crudely applied rouge to show up any minute."

Also, the median diner age must have been around 72 - after our little band of four people under thirty-three was seated. Prior to that, perhaps 103.

But I digress. How was the food? The menus, too, were completely untouched by time, all the way down to the old-fashioned typeface. The content, as you can imagine, has probably been set in stone since 1952. At least. In other words, Nelson will dance a jig stark naked on his column before anyone can put anything foamed or ponzu-reduced on that menu. There is prime rib. There is all kinds of steak, the most daring preparation being steak rocquefort. There is crabcake, crab imperial, bisque. There is lobster (I think.) And if they don't come with more description than that, it's because they don't come with any more than that.

My prime rib was a split-cut, which was still enough to feed a small family for weeks. A beautiful piece of meat, perfectly prepared, tender, and so unadorned, it looked like a Midwestern virgin. What's on the plate? you say. Prime rib, I say onto you. And what else? Prime rib. What, nothing else? No. Prime rib, presented in a small puddle of what I presume is Jus de Prime Rib, aka the liquid that seeped out during cooking. No sauce. No garnish. No style. No flourish. No daring improvisation in form of perhaps a lone parsley sprig on top.

But aren't there sides? Yes. There's all kinds of sides you can find at any American table. Creamed spinach, steamed spinach, french fries, corn on the cob. The good side of sides: they are exactly as described. The bad side of sides: they are boring.

The service was smooth and efficient, but perhaps a touch impersonal. Not that I am complaining, but for an experience such as this, I want a silver-haired, immaculately dressed waiter that gracefully cocks his head to side while listening to my troubles and deftly refreshing my martini. Perhaps patting my bottom as I stand up. Alas. What I got was a nimble youth taking down my order and depositing said items in front of me when food arrived. Finish.

Desserts don't even merit a mention, unless dishonorable. Bread pudding, bleah, cubed pieces of bread resting on a thin puddle of vanilla-ish sauce, submerged perhaps by 1/8th of an inch. Pastry chef, report to headquarters for spanking at once. Unacceptable.

So as much as I appreciate an unadorned piece of sublime protein, my enjoyment of Prime Rib was purely anthropological in nature, similar to what I imagine one feels whilst on a visit to an Amish village. I didn't even know places like this exist anymore.

And the real dessert came at the end of the meal, when an octogenarian sliding, with considerable difficulty, out of his padded seat next to me suddenly stopped moving and stared at my cleavage long enough to make me want to hand him a pair of binoculars. Instead of indignation, I broke into unsupressible giggling. "Leave it," my friend said. "Don't move. Straighten up. Shoulders back. Chest out. It's charity, in more ways than one."

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Nadya - as always, I adore your posts. I'm grateful to the Prime Rib for providing such excellent material for this one. Truly a classic. B)

Agreed. It was as well structured and engrossing as your cleavage.

[i'm assuming here and relying on the old man's visual acuity.]

:lol::unsure:

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I went to Prime Rib for lunch yesterday. It was Restaurant Week, although that wasn't the draw. Party of 6 and most of us went for the RW menu. Sorry to say, but there was nothing to recommend from the whole meal or experience.

A disclaimer here: I'm a big fan of steak, but not a big fan of steak houses. I'm more into restaurants that turn out something special that I can't make at home. I'm also not a fan of prime rib.

I got the house salad to start, and the flounder. Flounder was cooked to nice enough brown, but no sauce or anything. Accompanied by sides of mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. I was excited to see those, as they reminded me of Ray's the Steaks. Alas, looks were deceiving. Potatoes were loaded with butter, and they were better after I added my colleague's "tiger sauce" (horse raddish) to them. Spinach didn't taste to have been made from fresh leaves.

For dessert, we got a birthday cake for a coworker. That was a tasty cake, I gotta say. Soft and mousse-y. Kudos there.

Service was fine. Nothing over-the-top either way.

The atmosphere -- the whole look of the place -- is circa 1950. The leopard carpet, piano player, etc. Wow.

Bottom line: Maybe it was the fact that its RW, but we all left completely underwhelmed, to put it mildly. But, its a better thing to learn for $20/head than what you'd probably pay regularly.

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What to order at the Prime Rib:

Crab Imperial appetizer

Large cut Prime Rib, ask for prepared horseradish

Dessert optional.

Bonus, slide $10 to the pianist and request Sweet Lorraine or Autumn Leaves.

I'm pretty much habit driven at the Prime Rib. Add fresh asparagus and hash browns, perhaps. I never have room for cheesecake at the end. I like the whole package: ambience, service, mood, food. For sure, it's dining from another era.

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Went to the Prime Rib about a week ago for a business lunch. I went for the lunch special which is $25 for a 3 course meal. Started with the house salad which was ok, mostly drowned in dressing, then I got the prime rib which as described above is just a plain big hunk of meat along with some shavings of fresh horseradish. The meat was very juicy, but had no char at all and was not my cup of tea. It also came with two sides dishes: creamed spinach (very bad) and mashed potatoes (anybody's homemade are better). Ended with key lime pie which was good, but nothing special at all. So besides writing this review to share a bad experience, I need help. I am going AGAIN this week for another business lunch and desperately want to find something good on the menu besides the crab dishes recommended above (I don't eat crab). Any thoughts?

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Went to the Prime Rib about a week ago for a business lunch. I went for the lunch special which is $25 for a 3 course meal. Started with the house salad which was ok, mostly drowned in dressing, then I got the prime rib which as described above is just a plain big hunk of meat along with some shavings of fresh horseradish. The meat was very juicy, but had no char at all and was not my cup of tea. It also came with two sides dishes: creamed spinach (very bad) and mashed potatoes (anybody's homemade are better). Ended with key lime pie which was good, but nothing special at all. So besides writing this review to share a bad experience, I need help. I am going AGAIN this week for another business lunch and desperately want to find something good on the menu besides the crab dishes recommended above (I don't eat crab). Any thoughts?

Ask about the main course lobster salad.

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Ask about the main course lobster salad.
Oops, I realize I wasn't clear enough. I don't eat shellfish (crab, lobster, clams, oysters, etc) but I do eat Chinese on Christmas if you know what i mean. I'm wondering if any of the other beef, meat, or fish (flounder, salmon, etc) or salads options are any better?
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Oops, I realize I wasn't clear enough. I don't eat shellfish (crab, lobster, clams, oysters, etc) but I do eat Chinese on Christmas if you know what i mean. I'm wondering if any of the other beef, meat, or fish (flounder, salmon, etc) or salads options are any better?
You might consider ordering two starters: Smoked salmon and the smoked trout. Both are ample, nicely plated and made, I believe, by Ducktrap Farms.
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Oops, I realize I wasn't clear enough. I don't eat shellfish (crab, lobster, clams, oysters, etc) but I do eat Chinese on Christmas if you know what i mean. I'm wondering if any of the other beef, meat, or fish (flounder, salmon, etc) or salads options are any better?

The star of the show there is the prime rib. I suggest getting the larger cut, ask for it medium, ask for prepared horseradish, too; with a baked potato and whatever fresh green vegetable they have that day. Prime rib is never charred because it's roasted.

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Lunch turned out alright. This time I saw more of the old-world "charm", definitely the place of choice for some that like to wear jackets or have gray hair. I went for the every Thursday turkey special. Huge portion of decent turkey (doesn't compare though to anybody's thanksgiving table), stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potato, and 2 sides. I enjoyed myself this time, but no one should choose to go there for this dish, it is just one of the ok ones slightly better than the middling ones.

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I don't know about the "every Thursday turkey special." Quite honestly, to me, the Prime Rib is about prime rib-beef-not about turkey. And, crab cakes which are arguably the best in the D. C. area, certainly excepting Seabrook (Jerry's). I just can't imagine turkey at the Prime Rib... Frankly, anything less than this would be a waste of calories... Turkey? At the Prime Rib? Why?

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Monday visit left me underwhelmed, but luckily I was with some long-lost friends and good fun was had by all. It is also fun to celebrity watch, and the setting is very relaxing.

I was the first to arrive at the bar. Ordered the Signature Manhattan, which was ok. The sweet vermouth tasted a bit stale, so I opted for an Old Fashioned for my 2nd round. The bartender, before my eyes, opened a packet of Equal into my tumbler and began to mash the cherry and orange. Old Crow was his choice of spirit, several dashes of Ango, and about 5 ounces of soda. Nice bartender, worst cocktail of the year for me.

At our table, I began with the crabcake. Very nice, would order again.

Of course I chose the prime rib. During the order, I first opted for the split cut. Others at my table hemmed and hawed over the split vs. full cut. The server very eloquently defended the full cut as the restaurant's signature entree, USDA Prime cooked with the "bone-in" for the most flavorful prime rib in town. His presentation won the table, and I changed my order to the full cut, medium rare.

Fast forward to entree time. I have 32 ounces of meat in front of me. There is no bone, the temperature is medium. The rib is fine, if a bit chewy, certainly not fork tender, and definitely not worthy of a "signature entree" designation in this instance, IMO.

I regret my review lacks energy, but a disappointing dinner. I do like the atmosphere and the service.

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I opted for an Old Fashioned for my 2nd round. The bartender, before my eyes, opened a packet of Equal into my tumbler and began to mash the cherry and orange. Old Crow was his choice of spirit, several dashes of Ango, and about 5 ounces of soda. Nice bartender, worst cocktail of the year for me.

Makes you wonder why we bother to venerate old-time bartending. Too often, it means this.

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The bartender, before my eyes, opened a packet of Equal into my tumbler and began to mash the cherry and orange.

Seriously, and assuming no other social barriers to prevent you from doing so, why in the hell didn't you politely ask him to stop and start over?! Or not so politely. Holy crap! If I wanted my cocktail to have a chemical aftertaste I would ask for it to be made with DC tap water.

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If he had been a young, enthusiastic bartender, I might have tried to inform him on some sort of fundamental technique. I don't really speak up about recipes, that's their call to riff. This bartender was actually a very good bartender on every other level: attentive, funny, knew how to tell a story, knew when to back away. That's why I would "venerate" his style, and I didn't want to cause a scene in front of others. I actually don't mind a horrible cocktail, as long as I see it in action.

Plus, I waited too long and missed out on Repeal Day tickets this year. I guess this was my consolation cocktail, a reminder of how Prohibition killed a craft, replaced by a skill-less mish-mash of distilled awfulness and cloying cover-ups.

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This bartender was actually a very good bartender on every other level: attentive, funny, knew how to tell a story, knew when to back away.

I think the regular Monday-Friday bartender is still Jimmy. And he's awesome (even if he makes a lousy drink every now and again).

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38 minutes ago, DaveO said:

I would suggest the Prime Rib as a very long term local restaurant (even as there is one in DC and one in Baltimore).  The Prime Rib has outlasted the other older steakhouses that were local.

This is true, but the last time I ate at The Prime Rib, my baked potato was mushy and very brown, which means it had been cooked a long time before. I got the Prime Rib and payed a lot for it, and it was just plain ordinary (at best). I would describe The Prime Rib as "glorified mediocrity." 

I've read all of Mark Slater's posts above, and I just haven't experienced what he has. I'm a big fan of old-school, fancy restaurants (think: Tio Pepe in Baltimore, where I've had wonderful Roast Suckling Pig, Spinach with pine nuts, raisins, and garlic, and Pine Nut Cake in a roulade), but The Prime Rib just has not delivered for me - I'm prepared to give it another go, but I honestly wonder how many people are seduced by the label on this bottle of wine (speaking of wine, look at their wine offerings - "another era" is fine; that wine list is not fine). In fact, speaking of another era, I would *kill* for a Fin de Siecle-themed restaurant to open, which offered nothing but no-holds-barred, super-expensive, Parisian dishes from the era of Émile Loubet.

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23 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

This is true, but the last time I ate at The Prime Rib, my baked potato was mushy and very brown, which means it had been cooked a long time before. I got the Prime Rib and payed a lot for it, and it was just plain ordinary (at best). I would describe The Prime Rib as "glorified mediocrity." 

"glorified mediocrity" maybe. No reviews with a date here since 2010. I ate there a fair amount but so long ago, I'm not sure but the last time had to be at least 15 years ago. Not sure when you ate there last.  

(admittedly this is 2016 irrelevant ;)   While I ate at a lot of different steakhouses in the 80's and 90's and professed not to be able to tell the difference, overall I liked the Prime Rib best;  Prime Rib and Steak-- both were excellent choices)

Hm.  checked recent reviews at yelp, tripadvisor and opentable and they are mixed.  My gut is they are not paying full attention to everything all the time, and well could be riding their reputation.  Interesting.

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Was reading back through these reviews (lol at expecting Prime Rib with "char"), and nearly didn't follow through on booking the Prime Rib for dinner on 12/30. We had planned to be out of town, but pivoted to a weekend in DC. Kids selected the weekend theme "throwbacks" out of several provided. The Prime Rib seemed like the perfect start.

Our reservation was on the early side (6:30) and we were pleasantly surprised to find the dining room around 3/4 full. The room remained so throughout the evening, so most tables turned once which was nice to see. Service was fantastic - several waiters noticed that my daughter was trying to re-construct how the napkins had been folded on the table, and graciously stopped by to teach her, providing an extra napkin to practice with. Another employee ( I believe the Maître'd, but can't be sure) stopped by to show off a few magic tricks. While we and the other patrons were dressed formally, these touches made for a warm atmosphere, as did the piano player.

Starters were Lobster Bisque, Crab Cake, Caesar salad, and crab cocktail. All were classically prepared and all were delicious. Mains were the Signature Prime Rib (x2), Filet, and lobster mac and cheese. The Prime Ribs were cooked to a perfect medium rare, and while presented more traditionally than THE GRILL, rivaled the flavor. Sides included the addictive potato skins, serviceable green beans, and solid renditions of creamed spinach and mashed potatoes, though my son ate all of the latter.

Other than the wine list, not a thing to quibble about. I hadn't been to the Prime Rib in probably 12 years, but we truly enjoyed our dinner. While we always feel the pull of the new restaurant when venturing back "home", I have a feeling that my kids will be requesting The Prime Rib again sooner rather than later.

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