Looking for O.C.’s best prime rib? The Top 5 might surprise you. – Orange County Register

The perfect prime rib is more the result of a great butcher than a star chef, and I do not mean that as a jab at any of the chefs featured here.

What I mean is perfect prime rib doesn’t need a fancy recipe. It needs merely a generous rub of salt and pepper, and maybe a few herbs, coupled with a watchful eye and an understanding of temperature. A chef’s intuition is crucial. Do this right and, as long as the meat that went into the oven was good, the meat that eventually comes out should be even greater. It’s as simple as that. And there might not be a better, more satisfying way to enjoy a celebratory slab of beef.

The term “prime rib,” of course, refers to a sub-primal cut, not a qualifying grade such as USDA prime. Most restaurants that serve prime rib don’t actually serve USDA prime, although some do — and when they do, the difference can be dramatic. For the most part, because the quality of the meat dictates the end result, you almost always get what you pay for.

Usually, but not always. In search of the Top 5, I dined at more than a dozen restaurants across the county, including several very well-known places famous for prime rib. Shockingly, those so-called prime-rib specialists — some of which were very expensive — were at best decent. None of those places ranked among the top tier. Not surprisingly, I found a few of the best prime ribs at restaurants better known for steak.
Here are the Top 5 prime rib dinners in Orange County.

1. Del Frisco’s Grille
This is the best prime rib in Orange County, hands-down. This steakhouse at the Irvine Spectrum offers the roast on weekends only, Saturdays and Sundays starting around 4 p.m. On most holidays –Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter and such– they serve it for lunch or brunch as well. The meat is USDA Prime, and it is beautifully marbled, making it incredibly tender. It comes with buttery chive mashed potatoes. Cost: $38 for 12 ounces; $42 for 16 ounces. Irvine Spectrum, 620 Spectrum…

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