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A prime rib cart with a metal top and wooden body sits in the middle of a restaurant.

How a 1940s Carving Cart Became the Centerpiece at Landmark Prime Rib

Let’s make steak nostalgic again

The stunning prime rib cart at Landmark.
| Landmark Prime Rib
Courtney E. Smith is the editor of Eater Dallas. She's a journalist of 20 years who was born and raised in Texas, with bylines in Pitchfork, Wired, Esquire, Yahoo!, Salon, Refinery29, and more. When she's not writing about food, she co-hosts the podcast Songs My Ex Ruined.

It’s the first thing you see when you walk into the renovated dining room of the Landmark Prime Rib in the Warwick Melrose Hotel on Oak Lawn, right in the heart of Cedar Springs: a carving cart from the 1940s that has been refurbished. It has a curvy body, a complicated-looking silver lid, and a wood-lined body. That last part is what sets it apart — Googling prime rib carving carts from the midcentury modern era gets you a lot of items that look like the robot on Lost in Space.

Located inside a 100-year-old building that started as an apartment complex in 1924 and was fully renovated into a hotel in the 1980s, the latest interior and menu updates have been in the works for more than a year. The team, helmed by executive chef Patrick McElroy and the hotel’s director of food and beverage James Alexander, knew the Landmark was going to be a steakhouse — despite also knowing that, by Alexander’s count, there are over 30 steakhouses in a two-mile radius already.

An opulent dining room is dimly lit. Tables flank a prime rib cart on all sides.
A peek inside the newly renovated Landmark Prime Rib dining room
Landmark Prime Rib

That’s a number that puts the city’s love for steak into stark relief, but it also made it clear that to operate a successful Dallas chophouse, the Landmark would have to stand out. So, the team decided to focus on prime rib.

“What sets us apart from other steakhouses is our symphony of service,” Alexander says, revealing a phrase he’s coined to describe the intricate moves that accompany prime rib service. Unlike at Lawry’s, which will close its doors in Dallas this March after 40 years of service, this cart doesn’t travel to guests. Instead, it’s the focal point of the meal as well as the room. Guests who order the prime rib have the option to get up, pick the cut they want, and order it to their preferred doneness. The service staff will make sure that the cart is not overloaded with folks picking up orders, offer customers an Instagrammable service moment, and ensure entrees and enhancements to the meal are served at the same time. It’s a very tall order, but Alexander offers assurances that his seasoned staff can pull off a symphony that hits all the right notes.

A chef in whites and black pants serves a plate of prime rib with mashed potatoes and au jus.
Chef Patrick McElroy serves.
Courtney E. Smith

Chef McElroy’s enthusiasm for prime rib service is infectious, and on display as he demonstrates by slicing off a hearty piece of it onto a plate with mashed potatoes and au jus. There are several secrets to his cook, starting with his in-house rub, the ingredients of which he won’t divulge in full but include grated lemon rind and toasted peppercorns, among the expected salt, rosemary, and thyme. He shares that the cook for each piece of meat is rare, and then the au jus is used to raise the temperature and finish the cook per guest instructions. When pushed, he says that like steak, medium rare is the ideal cook but, of course, guests may request the cook of their preference.

“There were no restaurants with a prime rib focus,” outside of Lawry’s in Dallas, McElroy says. “There are wonderful dishes and accouterments associated with it — it’s not all heavy. We have a beautiful sea bass, a salmon, and colorful salads. But as far as [prime rib service goes], there’s a generation that’s never really seen it.”

The team at the Landmark hopes to take prime rib out of the ’80s and its place in holiday seasonal tradition and put it onto the plates of Dallasites as standard service. “We want to have this interaction,” McElroy says, gesturing to the space between us as he carves. “Not just with a ticket or a server.”

The Landmark Prime Rib will soft open on Wednesday, February 7. Diners can make reservations on OpenTable.

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