Address: 1800 Montgomery Street, The Embarcadero, SF
Cuisine: Traditional and New American
Date Last Visited: November 12, 2007
Dining Partners: Ate Di, BanYo, and Miko
I love my friends. No, seriously. FRIENDS. How many of us have them? I am so lucky to have friends who like to eat good food like me. And they are Ate Di, BanYo and Miko. You probably know their names very well by now because they are in many of my posts, but I just wanted to pay homage to them because they are so great. I love dining out with them. Okay, onto the restaurant. It was Veteran’s Day Monday and we planned to go out and eat because, well, for no particular occasion really. We chose Houston’s because BanYo wanted to go somewhere close to the Embarcadero. I know I know. Houston’s is a chain restaurant, but there is only one in San Francisco, so it’s okay.
We didn’t have reservations and even though we got there at around 6, the place was still pretty quiet and we were seated quickly. I think most of the action was at the bar. I just loved the woodsy feeling of this place.
Everything was made of wood and the lighting was just dim enough and it created a romantic, yet rugged and outdoorsy ambiance, like you were dining at a cabin restaurant that sat on the banks of the Colorado River. The lighting fixtures resembled pinecones and figures of river otters and other animal and plant life rounded out the décor.
These were the Special Pork and Veggie Spring Rolls ($14). The ones on the left are the ones filled with pork, noodles, carrots, and julienne peppers. The ones on the right are the strictly veggie ones that were filled with everything in the other roll but without the pork. Three dips came with them: a mango chutney-like sauce, creamy ranch-like sauce, and the last one was like a thousand island/Russian dressing. Overall, I was not very impressed with these. Come on! 14 bucks for two spring rolls? If they were a buck each, then we’ll talk, but they weren’t unique and just too damned overpriced. I was very disappointed. I thought we would get at least four of each variety, but no. I wouldn’t recommend them just because of the price. I mean, would YOU pay $14 for what you see above? If money came out of you like sweat, I’d understand, but no. Not me. I’m sorry for rambling. I just can’t believe what a gyp these were. I was pretty upset. GAH! Okay, I’ll move on now.
Miko’s Ruebenesque Corned Beef, Baby Swiss on Griddled Rye ($16). Growing up, corned beef to me was that stuff that came out of the can. But real corned beef is sliced and totally different from what I ate as a kid with rice and ketchup. I LOOOOVED this sandwich. The meat was tender and I loved the cheese all melted over it. The rye bread was buttery and crispy from sitting on the griddle. The potatoes were bomb as well. Nice and crispy like those In-N-Out fries I love so much. So good!
BanYo’s Rutheirford Ribeye with Mashed Potatoes ($32). The regular menu said it came with thick slice tomato and bleu cheese, but BanYo substituted for the mashed taters. The meat was tender and had a nice sweet glaze on it which was very tasty.
Ate Di’s Special Swordfish with Herb Butter and Dirty Rice (A.Q.). The restaurant does a fish of the day and this day’s was swordfish. I never really had swordfish (from what remember), so I was excited. Man, I never knew swordfish was so meaty. It ate like a steak. Nice herbed butter on the top which added some richness. The dirty rice had corn and carrots in it. It looks like Chinese fried rice, but it was richer in flavor.
My Prime Rib Roasted on the Bone and Thick Cut with Dirty Rice ($27). Now let me tell you about MY dish. Doesn’t it look irresistible? If you had this sitting in front of you, you would probably swoon like I did. Coming into the restaurant, I was planning on the double-cut pork chops, but they were out on this night. (BOO!) So I ordered this instead. I was disappointed at first, but all that went away when I took my first bite.
I also substituted my side dish from a baked potato to the dirty rice (hey, I’m Pinay!). It comes with creamy horseradish sauce and au jus for dipping. Good Lord have mercy. The first bite was HEAVEN. Just the right amount of juiciness, fat and roasted flavor. Perfectly medium rare in the middle and the sauces were just perfect. Probably the best prime rib I’ve had. I think I had to stop myself from looking like a barbarian because I was about to gnaw on that bone like a dog, and we all know the bone is best part. That’s where all the fat is hiding. I liked how they let the meat shine. No goopy sauces or marinades. Damn. Good meat.
So happy I came here. I would always pass by here and wonder what was served. That outdoor fire pit and the smoke coming from the chimney intrigued me. They sure do know their meats here. I know that it’s a chain and all, but I hope that doesn’t scare you away because they serve some good entrees. I would get away from those spring rolls though because they are a friggin’ rip off if you ask me. Other than that, go for the meat. It’s worth it.