Gulliver's Prime Ribs of Beef
18482 MacArthur Blvd.
Irvine, CA 92612
When the calendar turns the page from April to May, it means that we become very busy. Not only is this the time for Mother's Day, Father's Day, and graduations, but most of our family have birthdays and anniversaries in this section of the year. My mom had the great idea to combine all the birthdays and anniversaries into one meal, which I am totally fine with. It means more free time to, well catch up on writing this blog, and of course eating at more restaurants.
The restaurant my mom chose to celebrate at was Gulliver's, right across the street from John Wayne Airport. If it seems like this restaurant has been here forever, it almost has. They are celebrating their 46th year in business, which makes them real ancient in restaurant years. They are so old, that I can remember being left with a babysitter, so my parents could eat here sometimes, and I haven't had to have a babysitter for a couple of years now.
Gulliver's wants to transport its guests back in time to an 18th century English roadside inn. I wasn't around back then, and I haven't been to England, but I think they might have nailed it. The restaurant decor definitely seems dated for sure. Lots of pewter platters, pictures, and artwork featuring scenes from the novel Gulliver's Travels are plastered over every wall. Not that you will be able to make out much, with the restaurant being so dark. The floral printed furniture, which is comfortable, has definitely been around for awhile.
The menu here is pretty straight forward, and geared towards red meat eaters. The big draw is of course their prime rib, but they also offer other steaks, seafood, chicken, some pork and lamb dishes, and even a duck dish to complete the petting zoo feel the menu has. Just glancing at the menu, you can assume that the food here is prepared simply, and they do not take a lot of chances. There's not going to be any kale or quinoa served here, which is always a plus in my book. Let's see how everything turned out for us on this evening.
Right after ordering, we were brought this rather large basket of bread, which they were not shy about refilling. The bread was served warm, with the sourdough being my favorite. I enjoyed that the butter was softened, and easy to spread across the warmed bread.
Of course since Gulliver's is famous for their prime rib, we'll start off with Katie's selection, the Atlantic King Salmon ($27.95). This was prepared with a three mustard caper sauce, which judging from the picture, they used sparingly. Katie thought this fish was okay, but lacked a freshness that she has come to expect when dining out. She'd definitely forgo seafood on her next trip here. This lackluster plate also came with a scoop of mashed potatoes, green beans and two carrots.
Closer to what they are famous for was my sister's choice, the Aged Charbroiled Ribeye ($37.95). This 16 ounce ribeye had some good looking grill marks on it, and a seasoned herb butter topping it. My sister was across the table from me, so I did not get to try this, but she seemed to like it, calling it, "delish." It was way too much for her, so she ended up taking half of this home. It came with creamed spinach and a twice baked potato. Not sure if she got to choose these sides, or they just automatically came with her meal.
The rest of us got prime rib, but different sizes. My mom went with the smallest size, the Traditional English Cut ($34.95). With this one they thinly sliced the beef, and it came with three slices. She asked for this to be medium well, which is not how I would have gotten this, so I did not even bother taking a bite. This came with creamed spinach, Yorkshire pudding, and their famous creamed corn. No complaints from mom with this plate, and predictably, she took half of this home.
Here's a quick shot of my brother in laws prime rib, the Gulliver's Prime Cut ($35.95). My dad and him got the same sized portion, but my dad had his well done, which I did not even bother taking a picture of. At least my brother in law knows to order his beef medium rare.
Okay, let's get to my take on Gulliver's prime rib. I had the biggest, and supposedly best cut, their Brobdingnagian Cut ($45.95), which is served bone-in. I asked for this to be served medium rare, and that's how it came out. I've come to expect that with prime rib, there are going to be some bites that are great, some that are good, and some that are a little on the dry side. This cut had more mediocre bites than good ones. The outside areas of this slab of beef were flavored well, but not too tender. The inside portion was tender, but not much flavor to the meat. The au jus helped a bit, and using some of their creamed horseradish added some flavor to the inside portions. I probably should have just gone with the medium sized cut, and maybe it would have been a little more consistent. The sides here are pretty stellar. I love creamed spinach, and this was a good version of this classic. Not overly creamy, it still let the spinach be the star of the show. The creamed corn here gets raves, and it still is good. A very sweet creamed corn, you can make this at home, as they have their recipe for this on their website. The Yorkshire bread pudding might be liked by some, but I've never been a fan, and always leave this pretty much ignored.
Since we were celebrating all of our family celebrations on this evening, they brought us out a complimentary dessert, which just happened to be their English Trifle, This layered sponge cake comes with strawberries, raspberries, Bavarian cream, whipped cream, and sherry wine. This cake is okay, but nothing special. The cake portion is not very moist, and the whipped cream was kind of boring. If the menu did not alert me to the fact that there was Bavarian cream in this, I would have never known. Still this was a free dessert, so they get a little more leeway from me.
I'd sum up Gulliver's as a restaurant that has not changed with the times. Probably back when they first started in the 70's, there were not too many prime rib spots around, and it made this restaurant seem better than it was. Fast forward to the present, and there are a good number of restaurants that serve better prime rib than this, and Gulliver's is left with customers that come here for the nostalgic feel of this place, instead of having some great prime rib. Honestly, the food here is one step above what you would receive at a wedding, but at a higher price point. The dated decor makes Gulliver's seem drab and dingy, while the 65 plus crowd definitely does not liven up the joint. We did have some great service on this evening, but that's not enough to venture back here for our next family celebration.
Out of five ships, (because Gulliver's Travels is a novel about the journey of Lemuel Gulliver's trek around the world, which is made on numerous ships), five being best to zero being worst, Gulliver's Prime Ribs of Beef gets 2 ships.
For more information about Gulliver's Prime Ribs of Beef, head to their website here: http://www.gulliversrestaurant.com/Home_Page.html