I’m a fan of Prime, grass-fed, corn-finished, single-ranch, 28-day wet aged, mesquite wood, wonderfully crusted $75 steaks, with a crispy skinned baked potato (or better yet, truffled risotto), coddled duck eggs on my creamed spinach, white table cloths, curated wine lists, Riedel crystal, an amuse bouche and expensive cocktails. A hint of Bushwood snobbery? Perhaps. If what I described is your version of a steak house, don’t go to Richard’s Prime Rib.
However, if you remember, as I do, those “grown-up” dinners with your parents or grandparents, they would usually involve steak. Nicola’s on Maroa or The Early Dawn in Clovis (each have been gone for a long time from Fresno) both stick out as grown-up. Classic steakhouse magic is still alive in San Francisco at The House of Prime Rib or Alfred’s for instance.
If you are looking for the days of steakhouse yesteryear in Fresno, Richard’s is ABSOLUTELY the place to go. Time literally has stopped here. No windows. Subdued lights. A bartender who plays the spoons. Lots of wood. Bar to the left (if you’re lucky, you’ll eat there), Dining Room to the right. Naked women on the wall. Classic.
Within 3 minutes of being seated, Garlic Bread hits the table. Warm bread, maybe a couple edges of them were burnt, but no biggy. Glasses of tap water are filled at the same time.
Our server emerges quickly, after our garlic bread and water, to go over the specials and to take our order. Yes, there is an expectation that you’ll be ready to order after the specials are read. Don’t be fussy or sit and browse the menu, make a decision. It’s probably going to be steak anyway. In fairness, there are usually several fish specials. I have never ordered fish here and don’t know anyone else who has either.
Next up and ONLY after your server takes the dinner order is shrimp cocktail. I thought I was 7 years old again with those tiny shrimp (redundant) in the classic cocktail sauce. Technically, the shrimp cocktail is an amuse bouche, but I doubt they call it that. Don’t expect full-size U-12 prawns or a Pier 39 size cocktail. These are simply previously frozen bay shrimp in cocktail sauce, just like we all had back in 1976 and I loved every minute of it.
The choice one makes of soup or salad comes next, probably within 3 minutes of the shrimp cocktail being cleared. I ordered the Clam Chowder which tasted good, not pasty. The server said it was home-made. Good cup of chowder. As an aside, the salads presented are substantial, not a wimpy afterthought of side-salad with brown lettuce.
Main course time. Prime Rib, medium rare as requested, seasoned outside, moist inside. Not much more to say; it was done right.
Baked potato with all the fixins’. Sure it’s a smaller potato wrapped in foil and steamed (so the skin isn’t crispy), but it’s cooked through hot. And on cue, the fixins’ caddy of sour cream, chives, and bacon bits. I think I remember a steak house that had six toppings for a baked potato, but I think the three classics plus butter are all anyone needs. Of course, butter is already on the table.
Served with my steak are baked beans. They’re a solid offering and I like them better than choice two, green beans. I see the beans as a distant third to my baked potato. As many readers know, I’m a strict creamed spinach guy, but I didn’t want to mess with the classic program tonight. Are baked beans and green beans both considered “vegetables”? But I digress.
Horseradish cream is also served on the plate, but I didn’t need it with perfect Prime Rib.
$8 corkage (hell ya!) I’m a winemaker, so I often bring my own wine.
And here’s where the meal ends on a strict traditionalist note. When we declined dessert or coffee, the check is presented immediately by the server (am I with my grandparents or in a rush to go home and sleep; it’s only 8pm?!) The nostalgia, the tradition, the memories! Our start to finish meal lasted exactly 1 hour (again, am I with my grandparents?!)
If you want a quality prime rib and eat a well-prepared meal at a fair price, I don’t think you need to look any farther than Richard’s. Yes, it’s partially about the nostalgia of the place and less about the previously frozen bay shrimp cocktail, foil wrapped around a potato, or a naked woman on the wall. Richard’s Prime Rib is simply without pretention but certainly not without character and style.