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  • Writer's pictureDana

401 PRIME - Lancaster, PA

Originally posted 12/08/2022

If Alex and I had a food channel, we would have to call it “Two Hateful Cows”. I think that would work for us!

Tonight we went to the lounge at 401 PRIME. Admittedly, I was not hopeful right off the bat. I hear "high-end steakhouse" and I immediately think the 1980s have returned. In my not-so-humble opinion, Ruth’s Chris is overpriced and outdated, so I am definitely not a fan of that particular style of dining. Also, it’s been a bit of a rough week, so my fountain of positivity was running a little dry.

We got there just around 7 pm and were surprised to see the lounge was very busy. Always a good thing! On the other hand, I – at 53 – was one of the younger patrons. Alex definitely threw the whole demographic off. That did change as the hour grew later. We must have just hit at the sweet spot.

The start was rough. We kept in mind that 401 Prime has not been open long and they were definitely slammed. We were greeted and given a menu and water. The tap water smelled and tasted funky, though. We asked about it and were given other options, which was great (love me some San Pelligrino!), and we placed our drink order.

We decided to kind of graze through the starters, ordering two at a time. Before we started, our server brought out popovers that were fresh from the oven. They were warm, eggy, and delicious, served with a bacon and herb-scented butter that I wanted to slather over everything.

Our first two savory dishes were the King Crab Cocktail and a half dozen oysters. The oysters were solid. Nothing earth-shattering, but they were good. I will definitely order them again and enjoy them. The king crab “cocktail” was a single king crab leg (or most of it), split in half and charred. It was okay. Good, but nothing I would order again. The seasoning did not quite suit the crab meat and, at $ 36, it was very much overpriced for what it was.

On round two, we went with the steak tartare and the foie gras. These are dishes I normally adore. The first issue we both noted with the steak tartare was the color. It just looked off, almost like pork. We found out that was due to the Dijon that coated it. I missed the clean taste of the beef since it was muddied by the mustard. The oil and capers would have been more than enough to carry the tartare through.

The foie gras was just unattractive all the way around. Both Alex and I thought it had an unfortunate resemblance to cat food, just dumped out of the can onto a plate. This is going to seem petty, too, but the color of the plate the dish was served on detracted from the dish as well. There was an awesome marmalade that was served with the foie gras, but it was the same color as the plate. Overall, the dish had the look of someone having been sick, which really put me off. On top of that, it was served with long crouton-like things (definitely not the brioche the menu noted) that were just texturally wrong for the foie gras.

Not every dish can be a winner, though, so we continued on! The last round of savory dishes brought out miso-glazed bacon and smoked salmon toast. Incredible! The aroma of the bacon alone was enough to make mouths water. And it was that good. I may have made some inappropriate sounds as the bacon melted in my mouth. It was clean, it was simple, the flavors worked well together. It was simply amazing.

The smoked salmon toast was also a winner. While I wasn’t wildly in love with the somewhat greasy toast that the salmon sat on top of, the fish was great and the pickled radishes were the perfect counterpoint.

Of course, we had to have dessert. Alex asked about a drink that was on the menu that mentioned these amazing bleu cheese-encrusted caper berries. He decided not to order it with dessert because, well - no, that wouldn't work, but our server brought two of the caper berries out for us to try. They were so good! I will be ordering that drink the next time we go to 401 Prime.

For dessert, I opted for the praline crème brûlée and Alex had the bread pudding. Both were delicious. The crème brûlée had a Nutella-like finish - and there was a satisfying crack! - and the chocolate and butterscotch bread pudding was rich and dense. They were great ways to round off a good meal.

Our server, Kaitlyn, was absolutely fantastic. She was personable and knowledgeable about the menu. Her recommendations throughout the evening were spot on. It was nice to be back in familiar surroundings again, having spent many an evening in the lounge there when it was still Amorette. The faces and food were different, but we will definitely be back to sit in the restaurant proper and enjoy a meal. If all goes well, then we’ll have to look at doing 401 Prime’s chef table.

I’d certainly recommend the lounge for a nice relaxing evening out and look forward to going there again.

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