Prime Steakhouse

623 Courtney St tel 250-386-2010

Hugo's Grill was a kinda steak house, then it became Sanuk - Asian fusion; now, it's Prime Steakhouse - will it work? Maybe.

The clientele was overwhelmingly American and the server was surprised we weren't. Normally, it's a recipe for mediocrity - tonight, not so much.

The menu does not cater to Victoria's locovore infatuated fashion, but at the same has some style.  Despite the intense photos of the chef on the website (the photographer said, "pretend you're a steak!") there's a real chef in that kitchen. If you're into steaks, Prime will be a fairly interesting destination. The signature dish is a dry aged New York - bone in. What's that? I could imagine, but that's not a restaurant steak. A steak with big shrinkage and you need a bandsaw to cut it. That's cool...

The server was shockingly good. he knew the menu and the wine list and wasn't even slightly off put by a battery of questions. He was remarkably smooth, in the face of a transient clientele. As I gazed into the wine list, the server offered assistance. I explained what I was looking at, but suggested if he had any bright ideas I was all ears. He asked a questions or two, and offered his recommendation. A mid-priced California Zinfandel, it was better than what I would have picked without direction.

We started with the a half dozen oysters (Kushi) and the beef carpaccio. The oysters were clean with shaved horseradish and mignonette. My carpaccio was classically presented with arugula, aioli and crostini. Tasty, but with a distinguishing cap of fat - not characteristic of a tenderloin, the cut used in carpaccio. We asked the server about it. He was very concerned about our satisfaction with the dish. I explained that it was very tasty, but I was curious, because it's unusual to find a layer of fat ringing the tenderloin. He politely went to the kitchen to enquire. He returned with a candid explanation of  - yes, the chef noticed that too and thought it was unusual, but he didn't want to mess with the meat. Fair enough, I'm not one to complain about extra fat.

For our main courses Patty had the signature dry aged, bone in New York. Weighing in at 16 oz, this was a large, albeit not ludicrously so, portion. It was weird to have a bone in, but I like it - it's kinda of steakhouse classy. It's nice to go to a steakhouse and be offered an interesting steak. The steak was served with an array of a la carte accompaniments; Patty went for the risotto and bernaise sauce. The risotto was cooked to Patty's very personal standard, the Bearnaise was executed competently and the veggies were properly cooked.  A mountain of calories, but the leftovers make a great doggie bag and late night snack.

I had the lambchops and frites. Two chops, I, at first was off put by the lack of sauce on the plate. I swear by a shot of demi glace as a fundamental component of most meat dishes. I grumbled, ate a few bites and suddenly it reminded me of something - kissing a drunk man! The lamb, a gamey meat, had a powerful hit of red wine. Oh, the memories of my more single years -- smoochies after copious amount of steak and red wine. I'm not sure if I want to eat that all the time, but it was fun thinking about it and enhanced my appreciation of the dish. I would have liked the demi, but I value a dish that makes me feel something. My frites however, did desperately need a condiment,

No room for dessert, we finished our wine and took a doggie bag for a midnight picnic. I may not have the constitution for regular steak house visits, but this time, I was pleasantly surprised. 


August 2009