Lawry's is located on busy Restaurant Row on La Cienega Blvd. in Beverly Hills. The husband pulled up, and we left the car with the valet and went inside. The husband checked in with the hostess and told her that we had a reservation, and she asked us to wait in the lounge. The lounge area has a number of sofas, and there's beautiful wood paneling on the walls. They also had a station with some kind of hors d'oeuvres to munch on while you were waiting for your table. We didn't partake, but I think the husband said it was small meatballs and something else, based on what he saw someone else getting. Across the way, we saw the bar, which was also wood-paneled and elegant. Shortly thereafter, our table was ready, and we were led into the dining room.
After we sat down, the husband and I commented that it was odd coming into the dining room - it felt like we were going backwards. The dining room itself wasn't nearly as fancy or elegant as the waiting area. With lion heads on the stairs leading back to the waiting area, it felt like we were going the wrong direction, that we should now be in the more casual waiting area before heading through the lionhead-lined staircase to the more formal, wood-paneled, elegant dining room. I can't say exactly for what reason, but the dining room area actually reminded me a bit of the dining room for The Spaghetti Factory, which I happen to like, but I expected a bit more from a place like Lawry's.
The dining room had a number of booths, but they also had separate sections of tables with booth seating that were situated a bit oddly to me. This is a little hard to describe. We were at the end of one of the sections, and they pulled the table out to let the husband and me into our seats, and then they pushed the table back in front of us. For me to get out, the husband would have had to scoot out and I'd have to scoot over and out. The same would have been true for the couple who were later seated at the table at the other end of our section. But if they had sat anyone in the tables between us and the other couple, the only way for them to have gotten out was to pull their table entirely out, in the middle of the walkway, for them to get out. Or, I suppose they could have crawled under the table, but that would have been odd. In that section of seats, there was no seating on the aisle - everyone sat in booth space. The only aisle seating I saw was a young child in a high chair at a booth near us. We did notice regular tables in another section with regular single chairs.
After we'd been seated, our server came up and introduced herself. I don't remember her name, mostly because I was noticing other things about her: 1) Instead of "Mary" or "Jennifer" or "Christine", she introduced herself as "Miss [lastname]" and her nametag said the same thing. OK, that's different. I've never called a server that way before, and it might have made me think I was back in school except for the next thing I noticed. 2) Her uniform was very much and unmistakeably just like that of a nurse. The design and cut of the bodice, and then the little hat on top - it was definitely an old-style nurse look. OK, so our server was Nurse Ratched. And then later, we noticed that all the servers were women, in their little nurse uniforms, and all the bussers were men, dressed in what looked like orderly uniforms. OK, so when exactly did Lawry's turn into a hospital?
I looked at the menu to decide what to have for dinner. I knew that I'd have some kind of prime rib - I mean, why come to Lawry's and not have prime rib, unless you're a vegetarian or you don't eat red meat? The ordering process was a little weird, because if you ordered anything other than prime rib, then you ordered it with your server, who took the order to the kitchen, but if you wanted prime rib, you ordered that when the prime rib cart came around. And for certain sides, you had to order with the server because it came out of the kitchen, and other sides, they came with the prime rib cart. Both the husband and I ordered "The Lawry Cut - Our traditional and most popular cut" of prime rib and then we ordered a side of asparagus to share, which it turns out came from the kitchen.
Each prime rib meal came with certain accompaniments, including a starter salad, their "Famous Original Spinning Bowl Salad", which Nurse Ratched prepared at the table, and when she poured in the salad dressing, she held the container and raised it really high while pouring it. It just reminded me of old-time show, which I guess isn't my thing. Show is nice, as is presentation, but the food is really going to speak for itself. I thought the salad was ok, but I wasn't crazy about the dressing. It had similarities to Thousand Island dressing, which I would have loved back when I used to like Thousand Island dressing, but since I generally prefer Italian vinaigrette nowadays, the dressing was sweeter than I would have preferred.
The meal also came with Yorkshire Pudding - which I'll admit I didn't know what that was - turns out it was pretty much bread in a little pan. Also included with the meal was mashed potatoes, but I think you can substitute a baked potato for an additional charge. The husband and I both opted for the mashed potatoes. They also had regular horseradish and whipped cream horseradish for the prime rib.
There were a couple prime rib carts making the rounds of the restaurant, and when the closest one arrived at our table, Nurse Ratched came back. She introduced us to the chef with that particular cart, and then she asked me what cut of prime rib I wanted. I told her, and then she repeated it to the chef - who was standing right there and would have heard me, I would have presumed. He cut what I asked for, added the mashed potatoes and then I can't remember if he put the plate on the table in front of me or if she did. She then turned to the husband and did the same thing. I thought it was weird that we didn't really speak directly to the chef - it would have been just as easy to just tell him our order. I don't think the formality of having the server repeat our order to the chef was necessary - it just made it seem like he wasn't really there, or somehow, it wasn't proper for us to speak to him.
When my plate was put down, I was a surprised at how big a cut it was. It was then that I realized that the menu listed different cuts of prime rib, but not how many ounces each cut was. The prime rib was more than I would have ordered had I known the size - on any future visit, if I was to order prime rib, I'd probably get either "The California Cut - A smaller cut for lighter appetites" or "The English Cut - Three thin slices deftly carved to heighten the rich beef flavor".
After we'd started to enjoy our prime rib, Nurse Ratched came back to check on us, and she noticed there wasn't much au jus on my plate, so she asked if I wanted more. I said yes, and she came back with a gravy boat of jus, so that was very nice. The prime rib was indeed very good, and I actually had it with the horseradish, which I've never done elsewhere before. The mashed potatoes were kind of plain, and I actually quite liked the Yorkshire Pudding, and the asparagus was very good.
I ended up having about half my prime rib, and I took the rest home and had it for lunch a couple of days later. I really liked the prime rib, but I can't say that it was amazingly better than other prime rib or cut of beef that I've had. Maybe I'm just not a prime rib afficionado, or I've been lucky enough that I have a number of places to go if I want a nice cut of beef, but I was just not wowed by the meal itself.
For some reason, they don't seem to have the dessert menu on the website, so I'm going off memory here. Because they knew that we were celebrating the husband's birthday, they brought him a bit of the English trifle, and they even sang him a song. But with just the female voices, sung in a way that made me think they were trying to be soothing rather than festive, it kept making me think that the nurses were singing him a nice birthday song at the hospital to cheer him up, but they didn't want to wake the other patients. The husband ended up not eating his birthday gift since it had raspberries in it, which he seriously dislikes, so I ended up having that for dessert while he ordered a slice of banana creme pie or something like that, which he enjoyed.
My choice of moniker aside, Nurse Ratched was actually quite pleasant. She was attentive without hovering, and she actually had a nice little conversation with the husband about the glass of wine he chose as well as about other wines she liked.
Side note: I mentioned the little girl in a high-chair at a nearby table. She was the cutest thing and friendly too, which just won the hearts of the servers, a couple of whom came by and visited with her several times. I think the husband made some comment about how the pediatric ward is always popular with the nurses.
All in all, we had a good experience, but I think for me, it just didn't live up to the expectations I had for it. The food was good, but not outstanding, the service was good, though the uniforms were distracting, and the decor wasn't nearly as elegant as I had expected. It may also be that the meal was literally meat and potatoes, and I'm not really a strict "meat and potatoes" kind of person - I'm used to a little more variety. Even at Northwoods Inn, which I absolutely love, it's very much "meat and potatoes" there, but the meal just seems more interesting there. I don't regret having gone to Lawry's, and I'm glad that I had the experience. I wouldn't object to going back if friends had a special occasion and wanted to go there (and at least next time, I'll know what to expect), but it's not a restaurant that I would choose to visit again.
Lawry's The Prime Rib
100 N. La Cienega Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211