June 1st, 2010

Laurenzo’s: Prime Rib Before Prime Time

In 6 Words: Prime, Contrasts, Goldilocks, Brunch, Rib, Jerseys

Restaurants are popping up all over Washington as it’s the hip place to be. While we all know that trendy doesn’t necessarily translate into good, as a resident of the area, it’s nice that I have more and more choices in the immediate vicinity when I’m looking for some chow. As they pop up, I put them on the big list in my head and systematically check them off as I try them. Laurenzo’s had been on my list for some time and I made the decision that I would hit up Laurenzo’s for brunch on Sunday.

Laurenzo’s is a study in contrasts. From the outside, it looks like a fancy, upscale restaurant with it’s deep blue and golden awning and exquisite wood work on the Washington side of the building. On the inside, the dark wood finish is reminiscent of an Irish pub/sportsbar, complete with framed sports jerseys. I can definitely get behind the sports theme, but I was a little confused as to wild array of jerseys that were hung above the kitchen. Astros, Broncos and Bears… oh my.

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As my girlfriend and I entered, we were momentarily blinded by the absolute contrast from brightness of the the 2PM sunlight and the darkness inside. We thankfully missed the rush and were immediately escorted to our table as we showed up at the tail end of the scheduled brunch. We sat next to a young family with two kids who were obviously well known to the wait staff. The late lunch and even later brunch crowd was a study in eclecticism. The young family, an elderly couple, two men in their fifties and a few randoms at the bar.

We started off with chips and queso, which came with thick homemade tortilla chips. The queso was good in the non-processed cheese way that is so prevalent in Houston. Hail to the south and our lack of reliance on Velveeta! We had ask for a second basket of the chips so we could scrape the bottom of the bowl while we scanned the menu for an inordinate amount of time while trying to figure out what we were going to order.

Laurenzo’s is self-billed as the place for prime rib, so naturally, I decided to try the flagship meal. It didn’t hurt that I had a hankering for a big juicy piece of meat. Prime rib is one of those things that I usually only eat at weddings. If I’m at a steak house, I’m going with a steak and most casual dining restaurants only offer it as a special, so while there were more than a few brunch entrees that looked appealing, my eyes kept going back to the Prime Rib. Laurenzo’s offers three sizes for each one of the three bears in your family. I, like Goldilocks, went with the medium, because that seemed to be just right.

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When it was set before me, I wasn’t as impressed as I had hoped to be. It was a good sized piece, but there was quite a bit of fat that I had to trim. I realize that fat equals flavor to some, but I’ve got enough fat and I don’t need to ingest any more. The meat itself was well seasoned and moist – and the side of au jus was “aw yeah.”

Since I’m so health conscious, I went with the side of fries, which where the thin shoestring style and were nicely salted. My girlfriend, favoring a more traditional brunch fare, went with the eggs. Served with Canadian Bacon and potatoes, it more than hit the spot. Which meant that I got to eat what she didn’t. Score one for me!

Set in a neighborhood that expanding and growing, I can see Laurenzo’s developing into a place for the locals, with something for everyone. While the food isn’t spectacular and it’s a little pricey for a family, it gives mom and dad an opportunity to get out on the town at a place where the kids can still get something they’ll eat. For a couple out on a date, it’s a cool place to have dinner before hitting some of the bars on Washington. For me it’s a place right in my neighborhood that serves better food than Chili’s. I can dig it.

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Where –4412 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX 77007 (View Map)
What – The Place for Prime Rib
Wear – Cassually Business Attire
How Much – Prices Fitting of the Area
When – Mon-Tue 11AM-9PM; Wed-Thu 11AM-10PM; Fri 11AM-11PM;
Sat 11:30AM-11PM; Sunday Brunch 10:30AM-2:30PM
WebHomepage; Facebook; Twitter

— Marc

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