BY NICOLE SHEIN | PHOTOS BY BRANDON VICK
Steakhouses are an American classic—but so is innovation. Prime Steakhouse, located on East Main Street in Webster, offers a contemporary approach to traditional steakhouse cuisine.
According to Executive Chef John Strakal, the restaurant’s mission is simple: to offer upscale dining to the community, while supporting local growers and other food purveyors as much as possible. Yet it’s also clear that Strakal relishes the opportunity to experiment, and to bring a fresh sensibility to the steakhouse experience. Case in point, the tasting menu that he offered me when I visited Prime recently.
I began with the shrimp cocktail; Strakal described them as “gargantuan,” and he wasn’t joking. So large that three of them could have served as an entree, the shrimp were plated with a spicy harissa, a vivid green seaweed salad, and for the purists, classic cocktail sauce.
An Asian-influenced dish of seared tuna, wasabi jasmine rice and sauteed baby bok choy arrived next. While delectable slices of rich, rare, pink fish might not be standard steakhouse fare, they certainly do deserve their place on Prime’s menu. The tuna itself was tender and the accompanying ponzu dipping sauce provided a punch of flavor. Yet the rice, redolent of jasmine and tinted palest green by the wasabi, almost stole the show for me. Both it and the bok choy were executed perfectly, ideal companions for the peppercorn-crusted tuna.
Until I tasted the succulent half-rack of lamb at Prime, I was not a fan of lamb. Yet these delicate chops, with their light char, exquisitely tender meat and rich (but not gamey) flavor, converted me after one bite. This is the sort of food that causes you to forget your manners; hope no one was watching as I devoured chop after chop. The side dishes—a soft, creamy heap
of whipped garlic potatoes and a generous portion of asparagus—were delicious but simple enough to keep my attention focused on the amazing meat.
Prime’s most popular dish is the 8 oz. filet mignon. Here, the classic aspect of Strakal’s cooking reigns. The steak was plated straightforwardly, with only a ramekin of fresh, house-made bearnaise sauce and some of the cutest little baby veggies I’ve ever seen. Boasting the tenderness you expect from such an indulgent cut, this filet seemed to embody the steakhouse legacy.
Some of Prime’s desserts are provided by Leo’s Bakery, but the chocolate mousse is prepared on premises according to the standard Culinary Institute of America recipe. This results in rich, bittersweet chocolate taste, as well as a luxuriously velvety texture. Fresh fruit and whipped cream provided counterpoint–although fellow chocoholics might agree with me that adding anything to that mousse is just gilding the lily. I also tasted Prime’s cheesecake, another classic interpretation of a quintessential steakhouse offering.
Next time, I’d love to try Prime’s truffled mac-and-cheese, French onion soup, wedge salad with smoked blue cheese dressing, ricotta gnocchi, or the Wagyu burger with house-made french fries. Prime has a full bar and offers a selection of martinis, cocktails and fine wines to accompany their reinterpreted steakhouse classics.