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, impression counted much. The service was overrated and needed work. Yes, I am basing that on a first visit. I don't think a restaurant that charges their customers 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 applied 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. 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 - 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'm 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 rib came with their signature Famous Original Spinning Bowl Salad which was really a gimmick. Yeah, I said it. That salad tasted very ordinary. Was presented with the flair of a half hearted and mediocre circus act. What basically happened was the waitress that spun the salid 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). After that, it was tossed. I'll credit them for a little originality, but I didn't think there was very much in terms of taste. The lettuce didn't look particularly fresh 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 rib which comes in their "silver" carts. The meat was carved at the table side and served in various cuts. Their Lawry's cut was as they explained, the most popular. 280g. For those who scoff at such daintly portions, there's a Diamond Jim Brady cut which weighs an impressive 450g.

So there it is, 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. It was good as I was hoping for. The Yorkshire pudding did a good job soaking up the savoury au jus. Freshly made, it was crispy on the edges and soft on the inside. There was a particular taste of something that eludes me now, but ultimately was delicious soaked up.

We had the Nova Scotia Broiled Lobster Tail. Lightly charred, the meat was quite tasty although absent of any seasoning. Cooked the way they did, the natural sweetness was somehow not apparent. Also wasn't juicy. It was actually dry like over-grilled prawns. At $26 a pop, it was also an expensive 2 mouth affair. Yeah, it's that small.

We ordered a creme brûlée to share after hearing that it was was exceptional. It looked rather mundane but was actually the best creme brûlée I've ever tasted. Lawry's rendition had an amazingly light custard and was smooth and milky. The charred top was a light crisp shell. 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. ;)