Ever since I was a kid, I have been an unabashed carnivore. From the chicken sticks I apparently devoured by the jarful as a child – my aunt swears I must still have a stockpile somewhere to this day – to the weekly (OK, twice weekly) fast food hamburgers I often succumb to as a late night meal, I just enjoy consuming meat (get your mind out of the gutter). If it had a mother, I’ll eat it.
This is not a popular sentiment these days, of course. And believe me, I do not announce my proclivity for dead animal flesh with pride. It is something I have been battling from the moment I so boldly declared myself a liberal and popped that chad for Al Gore in the election of my 18th year. How can I be (in theory) pro-environment while supporting an industry responsible for decimating the rain forest? How can I oppose the mistreatment of animals when I derive so much joy – indirectly – from their slaughter? These are the issues I struggle with every time I bite into a Famous Star, every time I sink my teeth into a hot dog, every time I shove seven chicken sticks in my mouth at the same time. Guess I am a Catholic after all.
But let me tell all you other beasts of prey out there something: There is no need to feel guilty about enjoying Prime Steakhouse.
Recently opened at the corner of Thompson Boulevard and Anacapa Street, the restaurant is the latest attempt to class-up a corridor long dominated by liquor stores and sleazebag motels. This place is fancy with an extra schmancy – the kind of place that charges $5.50 for water imported from the French Alps or whatever (since the glass they gave me was free, I’m assuming they serve regular ol’ tap water as well). Many native Venturans will point to this new establishment as another example of the Santa Barbara-ization of our once-humble little burgh, but in the case of Thompson, a bit of pretentious upper-crustiness can’t hurt a neighborhood which hosts a cheap motel known colloquially as the "Crystal Meth Lodge."
And besides, when it comes to the actual dining experience at Prime, there is nothing to complain about. Well, it is exorbitantly priced – the cheapest entrée is a $17 stuffed chicken breast – but you know what you’re getting your wallet into before you’re even seated. And the waiter kept calling me "buddy," which I found slightly annoying.
But the food. Oh, the food. My filet mignon was a vision in brown, grilled to perfection (as advertised on the menu), juicy and tender and altogether salacious. The side baked potato – though not, as the menu claimed, "The Best" – was still an explosion of deliciousness and bright orange cheese, which seemed to bubble over the edges like magma from Krakatoa, threatening to bury taste buds in an avalanche of salivatory goodness.
Hyperbole? Maybe. After all, I am a sucker for a good slab of meat. And with a place like Prime in town, I have no reservations shouting that from the rooftops – progressive liberal registration card be damned.
2009 E. Thompson Blvd.