Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lawry's, Paragon

Dinner with Junie. You can obviously imagine this was about prime ribs. There's more though. Lawry's from Beverly Hills is located at the 2nd story of Paragon. The restaurant has downsized physically to about half of its previous real estate and now looks to be relegated to a corner unit. This expensive and supposedly top notch prime rib place was put under some intense scrutiny today (it's all in my head, that's all) faced with the likes of rival purveyors like Morton's and Hog's Breath.

Since this was a first time, first impression counted much. The service of this place was either overrated and needs work. Yes, I am basing that on a first visit. I don't think a restaurant that charges their customers at such premium can afford poor service. Anthony Bourdain once said that chefs need the iron discipline of consistency because that is what customers return for and what new people come to experience after having heard through word of mouth. I'm thinking this needs to be appled onto service as well.

Personally, I thought that the server for today was slipshod. Her speech and attitude implied rather explicitly that she was just doing her job, not doing it very well and couldn't care less. And we were not being difficult. The experience from the start was rocky - marred by the wait staff that did not seem to understand when inquired about doneness of their prime ribs, incapable of coherent pronunciation of the words horseradish and au jus and the rather careless dropping of a salad fork. Geez. I'm not talking about rocket science or Olympic gymnastics here. Just asking about the meat.

These were their bread. We were totally unimpressed. It was neither warm nor tasted fresh. I had expected better out of these little things that made the meal here. We had assumed that the bread was kept between napkins to keep them warm - in which was pointless since it wasn't even slightly warm in the first place. We left most of it unfinished which was not the usual modus operandi for hungry me. I, who am normally quite happy to use them as an excuse to eat all the butter. I don't remember the last time I returned a bread tray with occupants.

Orders of prime ribs came with their signature Famous Original Spinning Bowl Salad which was really a gimmick. Yeah, I said it. That salad appeared to be just a very ordinary tasting salad presented with the flair of a half hearted and mediocre circus act. What you're essentially getting was salad that was spun in a bowl of ice while having their sauce (I thought it tasted like Thousand Island dressing) drizzled on (lettuce, shredded beets, minuscule amount of egg bits and croutons) and after that tossed. So there it was. I'll credit them for a little originality, but really, there was nothing very much in the way of taste. The lettuce didn't look particularly fresh to me and I was sure that was not just a personal opinion. The most tasty item in it were probably the croutons. Now I think that's really sad.  Don't expect anything exotic or wondrous from the spinning bowl salad.

The highlight at Lawry's was of course the prime ribs which comes in their "silver" carts. The meat is carved at the table side and served. The prime ribs came in various cuts.Their Lawry's cut is apparently the most popular. 280g. For those who scoff at such daintly portions, there's a Diamond Jim Brady cut which weighs are a rather impressive 450g.

So there it was, the medium rare prime rib, Lawry's cut and deliciously juicy pink resting in mouth watering au jus. The meat was accompanied by Idaho mashed potatoes and Yorkshire Pudding. Indeed, it was good as I was hoping for. The Yorkshire pudding did a good job soaking up the savoury au jus. Freshly made, it wa crispy on the edges,and soft on the inside. It was also fragrant of something that eludes me now, but ultimately delicious soaked up.

We had the Nova Scotia Broiled Lobster Tail. Lightly charred, the meat was rather tasty although absent of any seasoning. Cooked the way they did, the natural sweetness was somehow not apparent, and neither was there any juiciness. It was actually dry like over-grilled prawns. Still pretty good for me though. At $26 a pop, it was also an expensive 2 mouth affair. Yeah, it's that small.

We ordered a creme brulee to share, hearing that it was one of their desserts that was exceptional. It looked rather mundane but was actually the best creme brulee I've ever tasted. Lawry's edition of the dessert had an amazingly light custard, was smooth and milky. The charred top was a light crisp shell and the whole thing paired very nicely with the fruits. This was so enjoyable that each spoonful was a dilemma of "fruit or no fruit this time?".


D said...

Man I haven't been here in awhile but from your review, it sounds like they've gone downhill quite abit. When I read that you were even comparing it to Hog's Breath, I was like damnnnnnnn......

LiquidShaDow said...

Well, Lawry's good, but not that good. They're what? Almost 3 times of a prime rib at Hog's Breath. Sure as hell isn't 3 times as good. In fact, they're probably about the standards of what Black Angus has. I think the standards of good prime ribs are about there in this country. If you do know of better ones, I'm always open for recommendations. ;)