Restaurant Review: Lawry’s The Prime Rib at Mandarin Gallery in Singapore

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The American steakhouse celebrates its 19th anniversary in Singapore with a delish four-course menu

The iconic windowside location of Lawry’s The Prime Rib at Paragon Shopping Centre has found a cosy enclave in Mandarin Gallery. But apart from location, nothing much has changed. You’ll still enjoy a view of Singapore’s shopping belt, the same silver cart tableside service, and for those who’ve been patronising Lawry’s over the years, you’ll realise that the staff have become more like family members welcoming you to their home. In fact, one of its service staff has been with the brand for 17 years. That’s something to say given that the restaurant is turning 19 this July.

While most know of Lawry’s to have American roots, not many know of its expanding presence. The narrative is as such: The prime rib restaurant started in Beverly Hills in 1938, and despite being unsure of its reception outside the US — particularly in Asia — our little red dot became its first overseas outpost. Funnily enough, the restaurant has since gone on to cement its presence in Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan.

Celebrating its 19th anniversary in Singapore is no easy feat, given the coming and going of fads and food trends. To that, I say, rely on the classics and you’ll not go wrong. The restaurant has designed an Anniversary four-course menu, which includes a salad and a starter, after which you’re free to select one of three mains, and one of two desserts. And not that you’ll need any more reason to visit this family favourite, but Lawry’s is conducting a 19 Days of Giveaway on Facebook and Instagram, where diners can stand to win attractive prizes.

Spinning Bowl Salad

As our motoring editor once said of Morton’s salad, “It’s a salad in a steakhouse. Nothing much to see here, move along please." But all great movies involve a plot build up, and this is no different. It’s all the fireworks you’d expect of a salad show. It’s spun over a bowl of ice, the server tiptoes to pour dressing over the leaves, and you’re given a chilled fork for this dish. The salad wasn’t drowning in dressing, you get bits of shredded beetroot in it (I mistook it for bacon). Eh, I’m not a fan of the chilled metal fork, but I’ll have the salad again.

Lawry's The Prime Rib Singapore
Enjoy a trio of appetisers before your main arrives

Chicken Gyoza, Hokkaido Scallop with Tobiko and Mango Salsa and Foie Gras with Thyme Gelee

What, Japanese dishes in an American restaurant? No complaints there. The chef loves his Japanese food, and so did I. The gyoza had a great meat-to-skin ratio, was crisp on the outside, and juicy on the inside. I’d have liked the scallop to be seared a little more, but this went well with the zesty salsa. And foie gras is well, exactly what you expect it to be, but the thyme gelee paired beautifully, lifting the intense umami-buttery flavour.

Roasted Prime Rib of beef

Despite it being carved and served tableside on a silver cart, you can still order it to the doneness of your liking. You’re usually able to choose from four cuts (ranging from 160 to 450g) but here, the Anniversary cut is 150g. The meat is well marbled, with the slow roasted technique locking in moisture with every bite. There’s also barely any connective tissues that make the meat tough to chew through.

After the first bite, you’d wish the restaurant offered 200g instead. The sides do a great job in distracting you from the portion of meat though. Apart from the mashed potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, you’ll get a choice of creamy spinach with bacon bits, buttered peas or creamed corn. Special mention goes to the pudding, which has beef fat in it. Great for mopping up the gravy and jus.

In fact, I’m already looking forward to going back for the English cut (three slices of rib totalling 200g), or if I’d like a challenge, the signature Lawry’s cut (285g).

Herb Crusted Salmon and Truffle Rosemary Lamb Rack

These options are clearly for diners who don’t take beef, to which I’d say, the only thing you should show them is the way out the door. You can’t blame executive chef Sherwin Sim for trying to please everyone. Both dishes don’t blow your mind, but do well enough to make the meal satisfying. The salmon is juicy and topped with a medley of summer vegetables and squash, while the oven-roasted lamb was gamey enough, yet not overpowering.

But try as they are, both aren’t, and will never be stars of Lawry’s, As bluntly put by the staff, “Chef Sim always tries to do something a little different in the kitchen apart from the staple ribs, but it’s quite sad as they’re never as well received". Touche, but do you really need to wonder why? You’ve come to a steakhouse, and why would you order anything other than that? It’d be quite a pity (and a horror show for its marketing and comms team) should Lawry’s be known for anything other than its prime ribs.

Lobster Thermidor ($10++ with every anniversary set ordered)

I love lobster (to the dismay of a colleague who laments it as ‘food for the rich with poor tastebuds’), but I like it best grilled as that’s when you can tell when it’s fresh. Lobster Thermidor on the other hand, uses bechamel and thermidor sauces, masking whatever freshness there is. For some reason, why it’s a steakhouse staple boggles my mind. It’s almost always guaranteed to be disappointing. It’s not that the lobster thermidor here was executed badly, it’s just that exactly what one expects from a dish drowning in cream. Skip this, you came to Lawry’s for one reason (its prime rib), and you shouldn’t let other dishes distract you.

Lemon Meringue cake with yuzu sorbet and Seasalt Caramel Pecan Mousse with vanilla ice cream

Which would you pick after a heavy meal? Lemon meringue may seem like the lighter of both options, but the bitter-sweet mousse wins this time round for its airiness and crunch. That said, I’d gladly order a single serving of yuzu sorbet given the chance.

Lawry’s The Prime Rib
#04-01/31
Mandarin Gallery
33A Orchard Road
Singapore 238897
Tel: +65 6836 3333

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Published 19th June 2018
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