Yesterday was a long day. A very long day. But now Sister C is all done with college, and to celebrate that we went to Houston's in Pasadena. Houston's is one of the many restaurants owned by the Hillstone Restaurant Group. It's primarily an upscale bar and grill, with a few surprises here and there.
The atmosphere is a very important part of the Houston's experience. The architecture and design is stunning. Even their bathrooms are remarkable, with small television screens set in the urinal stalls. It kind of makes you not want to leave the bathroom. But there is one thing. It's dark. Really dark inside. Not so-dark-you're-dining-in-pitch-black dark, but more like so-dark-I-can't-tell-if-that's-a-man-or-a-woman dark. It's dark enough that mistakes can be made, so keep that in mind.
Their menu isn't particularly varied, but they do have some good options. Their artichoke and spinach dip (not on the menu) is always a good starter. They also have a very consistent prime rib there, in that it's consistently good. Even Lawry's in Beverly Hills can't make that claim. My only gripe is that the prime rib used to come with the option of either a baked potato or roasted garlic mashed potatoes, but sadly they no longer offer the mashed potatoes. They also have a barbecue pork rib rack that is as advertised—it literally falls off the bone.
But today I ordered what I usually order: the prime rib French dip sandwich. Somewhere along the line, after having eaten the prime rib, the barbecue pork ribs, and a double-cut pork chop so thick that I was barely able to finish it, I discovered the French dip and haven't wavered since. The sandwich is made with the very prime rib that gets served in the dinner plate. It comes piled high and served on a small French loaf. The au jus is served on the side along with the option of a creamy horseradish sauce. The meat is tender and full-flavored, with just the right amount of fat to round it all out. It is one of the best French dips I have ever had.
If had one complaint on this day, though, it seemed the sandwich was slightly smaller than the previous time I had it, perhaps as much as 10-15% smaller. However I still consider it a better deal than that of the prime rib which costs twice as much as the sandwich, but is only slightly more filling.
The sandwich also comes with a generous amount of shoestring fries, which was good and was about as much as I remembered having last time.
Some other notes on Houston's:
- prime rib French dip: 2 out of 7 on my mess-o-meter if eating without dipping (which is dumb), 5 out of 7 if using the au jus and horseradish. If you're an engineer, maybe 3 out of 7.
- 8 out of 10 on my darknessometer, meaning it's as dark as midnight with a half-full moon out.
- Houston's isn't cheap. The French dip will set you back about $18.
320 South Arroyo Parkway
Pasadena, CA 91105