The last time I decided to try the newest steakhouse in town, I made a trip to the recently opened Custom House for a heaping helping of mediocre food and sub-standard service. You would think I would have learned my lesson, but NO…I’m a glutton for punishment. So last night I found myself at the newly opened David Burke’s Primehouse in the also newly opened James Hotel (in the space that was formerly occupied by the Lennox House Coffee Shop and a Houston’s). Boy, am I glad I got back on the horse. Although being open a mere 3 days, this place was hitting on all cylinders. Our party of 4 (GWiv, MsWiv, The Chow Poodle and I) was treated to one of the best steakhouse meals I have had in recent memory.
Appetizers for our group included:
• Oysters (in a nod to Gangsta Unity both East Coast as well as West Coast varieties were included) served with 4 sauces
• Angry Lobster, served with candied lemon and basil
• Shrimp Cocktail, served with 2 sauces
• Crab Cake, a unique version of this dish that was wrapped with chives and crusted with German pretzels then beautifully plated with mango and honey mustard seed sauces. This dish was the star of the appetizer show and was conceived, according to Chef Burke, at a bar while indulging in beer and pretzels. (Although none of the other appetizers were slouches, either).
Primehouse offers a classic, prepared tableside (in our case by Chef Burke himself) Caesar’s Salad. This was the real deal. I don’t know about you, but it’s been years since I have had an actual real, prepared from scratch, using real raw eggs and anchovies, Caesar Salad. No bottled dressing here, this was beautifully prepared in the old school manner using fresh ingredients. We opted for the optional crab cake croutons which seemed out of place in this faithful rendition of the classic recipe. I recommend skipping this indulgence when ordering this salad…and if you go here for dinner DO order this salad.
Primehouse’s claim to fame is prime beef that is dry aged in their own “salt caves” located in the basement of the hotel. Chef Burke told us that they did extensive research on the effects of different environments on the taste of dry aged meat and had settled on using salt in the dry aging process. They have a “wall of salt” installed in their dry ageing cooler and age their meat a minimum of 28 days (except in the case of filets, which they age considerably shorter due to the lack of fat content in the meat). He went on to say that since the restaurant is so new, they are still experimenting with the actual aging process and that the steaks they are serving now are actually the first batch to come out of the “salt cave”. That is understandable, since the restaurant has only been open for 3 days. As a little added “story”, it turns out that the restaurant owns its own bull, named “Prime 207L”. Evidently, all of the beef served at the restaurant is sired by this bull at Creekstone Farm in Kentucky. Judging by the fantastic bone in rib eye that I had, they know what they are doing. This was one of the most flavorful steaks that I have had in quite some time. The Chow Poodle had a filet that was also quite good and Ms. Wiv had a larger bone in version of the filet that looked astronomical.
If there is any downside to this place, it’s the side dishes. We had creamed spinach which was serviceable, but paled in comparison to the versions served at Smith & Wollensky or Lawry’s, hash browns that were greasy and salty, tempura fried green beans that were actually pretty good, and house made onion rings that were nothing special. Both of the deep fried items tasted faintly of curry, which we were told comes from special curry scented oil that is used for the deep fried items. I’m still undecided as to whether I liked the curry notes or not.
Deserts consisted of about 10 different choices. We opted for a cheesecake lollipop tree because how often can you say you had one of those, and a trio of house made ice creams and sorbets. I’m not the biggest cheesecake fan, so I won’t comment other than to say is was a beautiful presentation and the accompanying raspberries were very good. The ice creams were outstanding…especially the deep chocolate ice cream and melon sorbet.
All in all, this was a fantastic meal. I’ll be back as often as my wallet allows. This place isn’t cheap. Granted, we ordered an excessive amount of food in true LTH style, but dinner for 4, with a couple bottles of wine and tip came in at a whopping $600…even after a surprise 20% discount that they are giving everyone during the first couple of weeks of operation as they work out the kinks (which were so minor as to be nearly unnoticeable). For an outstanding steakhouse experience, Primehouse is the anti-Custom House and shouldn’t be missed. It has instantly become my new favorite steakhouse in town, displacing both Smith & Wollensky and Gene & Georgetti's.
David Burke’s Primehouse
606 North Rush